Her name was Tarbok, and my memories of her never seem to fade. With every passing year of our separation, my thoughts and fantasies begin to mix with what I have left of her: just memories. Every year, the corruption of the validity of these memories seems to deepen. I remembered her on the night I had to leave, and I remembered how she touched my face and walked away. Whenever I go back to that night, I can't remember if the buildings were made of stone, brick, or wood. I don't remember if it was concrete or asphalt that I was standing on. It is a blur when I try to think about the lighting of street lamps and private housing. But I do remember her face, I do remember her movements, I do remember her smile. Sometimes, though, I think I might be forgetting even that, and all I am left with is just a fleeting memory of how good I felt when I was with her and what she meant to me. I can only pray that this won't ever leave me. But today, I know I remember her face, and today, I know how good it was to be in her presence. Thinking of those days past, I loved her company. And thinking of those nights past, I loved her touch. It was under that Houston sky that we met. But, like a squatter, I had to keep on the move, I had to leave those stark streets and go back to where I came. I asked her to come, but she couldn't. She had obligations. So, I traded my lover for my love, and went on, following the Northern Star, little more than a real slave to this mad world of ours.
Finally, a year would pass and I would be living permanently with a friend of mine. Yet, nothing was ever permanent with a squatter. Unless you're also squatting, don't ever fall in love with a squatter. They'll break your heart.
I kept in touch with Tarbok through normal mail. Those days I would wake up at 2:00 P.M., first take a piss because of all the beer I drank the previous night, and then run out to the mail box to look for mail. It didn't come regularly, but it came nonetheless. To read that greeting, "To the lovable Vicnor." That was what my days consisted of.
Finally, I had managed to find a friend who had a van, and he was planning to go out to Los Angeles. "Hey, why the fuck not?" I said, and I asked if I could tag along. He said he had no problem at all with me coming. When Tarbok wrote me back, she told me she was heading to California. This excited me greatly. Finally, I would be able to see her again, and love her for the person I remember her as. I immediately wrote back and told her that I was going to Los Angeles, and that we should meet each other there.
And that night, I thought... Fantasizing about being on the West Coast, nothing but the ocean breeze caressing my face, on the ocean at 5:30 in the morning, as the sun begins to rise. I was on the other side of the country, in this dank apartment in New York City, and I was already in California. Just laying on the floor of the apartment with a pillow and blanket, looking to the ceiling, sleep slowly grasping me and holding me... Already walking across the beach in 14 eyelet, steel toe boots, the window wreaking havoc on my clothes... I was already there, on the West Coast, next to my lover. I am holding her, kissing her neck, licking her nose, pulling her tighter to me, as we fuck on the beach. I am already there.
Several days passed, and I finally convinced my friend to get the van on the road so we could get the fuck out of this terrible city. "I don't see why you're in such a rush," he said, "Los Angeles ain't going no fucking where." We were already several miles out of New York City. But then, the van started making some bumping noises from the inside, so we pulled over and my friend opened the hood. "Shit," he said, as he examined some obviously damage motor parts.
"So?" I asked, wanting to know.
Wiping his hands on a white towel he had, he shrugged, and said, "What can I tell ya'?"
I grabbed him by his jacket and said, "What the fuck do you mean, 'what can I tell you'?!"
"Hey, man, lay off," he said, and he pushed me off. But I let him push me off, and I turned away, because I didn't want him to see the tears welling up in my eyes. A few seconds passed, my back to him, and I just started walking back to the city, thumb outstretched. I knew he was watching me walk back. I didn't see him, but I could feel him. By around seven o'clock, I had finally gotten a ride back to the city. It was nine o'clock when I walked back in to my friend's apartment.
"What happened, Vicnor?" he said, "Aren't you supposed to be in Los Angeles?"
"No, I'm not," I said, trying not to think about the issue.
"Here," he said, "You have a letter." He held it out and looked me in the eyes, and I didn't turn away from him but just gazed back. "Well, take it," he said. I looked at the letter, then at him, and I took it. With letter in hand, I walked out of the apartment.
I searched for the perfect spot, and I found it. I laid down on the sidewalk, feeling the coarse pavement on my palms as I sat, and I leaned against a building. There were a few people around, just walking. There were also a few other homeless people. For one last time before going on, I looked up at the stars.
I looked down, and opened the envelope addressed to me. I read the words, "To the lovable Vicnor..." And I read on... I had to read it. I had to read what she said we would do together, where she said she would kiss me, where she said she would take me... I had to read her words, as she said that she couldn't wait to see me.
I had to read her words...