Tuesday night, I trot from city to city, show to show, to spy photos documenting In the Face of War or to watch a pirate ship sail across a flat screen in the womb-dark or to hug a boy hello on my way away, a skinny Vietnamese boy who laughs generously, with his head flung back, like the cousin who used to electrocute mice until their tiny toothpick feet fell off.
After devouring a taco on porch-steps before knocking on Niva's door, I slide under white pillow and white sheet, to dream off the Glenlivet sipped while writing furiously in bar.
In the morning I pace up and down a hall I haven't paced in months, followed by feline noses. Oliver the Lover and Orlando the Cynic have grown sleek and elegant, no longer the rolypoly balls of short fur and teeth they were only six months before. However, they still possess that raw-ther inconvenient habit of snacking on misplaced sweaters; they devour nubby scarves, in grey, red or black, with the calculated poise of a seasoned gourmet. And they still watch while you pee, cocking head before putting paw on knee, topaz eyes squinting with a strange and certain pleasure.
Quite odd, really, to see photos of you in a house that is not your own. Or your parents'. Photos that you have never seen. Photos that show what the loved one believes is you, only you.
See, she exclaims, That's you. You can tell by the shoulders. The way the arms hold the torso. Me, I see only the chin, the stubborn chin. Or the brows inherited from my father, brows that never express what you want to express, but what other people think you express - mostly anger or disdain. If not attended by a vigilant tweezer, these unruly brows would arch like Jack Nicholson's brows arch, as if planning trickster's mischief, like baiting witches or dancing in the pale moonlight above the city at night, a beautiful woman trembling in madman's arms.
Sometimes I want another body, a new body. A puppet body, like John Malkovich in Being John Malkovich, only it wouldn't look like John Malkovich because I like hair and tits. A puppet body without scars and a history of (minor) trauma, a body that does not flinch when people raise their hands, a body that does not remember the heartbreak inflicted by the lover who abandons or destroys. A body whose story I could control, telling (or inflicting) its story the way I would have wanted it told, by myself and only myself.