Doorways

IMG_3882I had coffee with a Zen Buddhist last week.

When I asked him what he was thinking, he said, “nothing. Nothing at all.”

I liked that.

His eyes are dark brown. Simple with a twist of humor.

You know how they say the eyes are the window of the soul?

I was thinking that if the eyes are the windows, the body must be the house of the soul. And if the body’s the house, maybe the heart is the front door.

That’s why it’s sometimes dizzying to face to someone else, to meet eye to eye. Open eyes and open heart, we’re peering through the door jamb to another soul, enclosed in a mortal vessel of infinite possibility. No walls. No ceiling. No floor. You can get lost in that mansion the moment you baby-step through the door.

Here’s my current theory: Hollywood and time travelers are wrong about the nature of portals. They place them in geographic locations – wavering walls, burning bushes, a rip in the fabric of the atmosphere that opens just long enough for our hero or heroine to tumble through, away from imminent danger and into their old bedrooms, where they slam with alarming accuracy back into their safe and comfortable beds.

I think we’re the portals, the time travel machines, endless mazes through a compelling world we barely understand.

We’re not our own portals, of course. We’re portals for each other.

I bet if we set our minds to it, we can pry our rib cages open and invite another trusted soul to step onto our crafted paths and experience the universe in an entirely different way. We could offer rides on the ladder steps of the DNA of our unique lineages, all the way back to Genghis Khan and beyond. Through the deserts, woods, creeks, and battlefields. Through the dreams of our ancestors, etched into our cellular memory. Tens of thousands of opportunities to trip through time and space and human experiences.

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I had drinks with a frozen foods sales agent last week.

His eyes are crystal blue, his hair bright white, his smile, crooked, and his hands always gripping, grasping, searching for an anchor. He is devastatingly handsome and deeply unhappy.

He was three drinks in by the time I got to the bar, and ready for his fourth by the time we sat at the table.

I consider myself lost, but he resides even deeper in the jungle than me. Where I blindly push leaves and branches aside, stepping cautiously through the mud, looking for the path, he thrashes in one place, fighting back nature with a dull scythe. He doesn’t question how he got there or how to leave. He fights the ghosts and ghouls who find him. He stands his ground.

His is a world of alliances, intrigues, and ownership. Power plays and subtle manipulations. Strengths and weaknesses. Fight or flight. Social Darwinism. Survival of the fittest.

He likes me because I orbit a different solar system than he does. I sat before him, in the sidewalk table of a bustling Hell’s Kitchen cafe, a busted archetype of the most fraudulent design. Alluring and easy. No need to prove who I am, because in my world, I’m nobody.

We’re apples and oranges. Or chimps and bonobos.

“That world, my world,” I tell him, “is only a step away.” I mean that it’s just across the table from him, a short reach past the guacamole. It’s a flip of the switch, a change in perspective, the difference between walking sideways or skipping backwards.

By his own admission, he’s not attracted to me, he’s attracted to the portal that could sweep him away into the mystery of my universe.

It’s enough to give someone vertigo. Especially six drinks in.

Legend has it that we are all related to each other, humans, chimpanzees, bonobos, and the other apes. Somewhere down the line, most of our human ancestors stuck out their thumbs and hitched a ride out of the jungle and into the cities and suburbs of the world. We turned our backs on our brethren species. We walked, ran, rode, drove, sailed, and flew to the strangest corners of our round earth until we became veritable strangers tied together by the flimsiest strands of our common DNA.

My friend Michele, the one who clothes me with her hand-me-downs, scoffs at my dating strategies and adventures. She can’t understand why someone half way across the U.S. would want to spend the time to get to know me. Or how a frozen foods business man would want to date a Broadway hairdresser. Or why I would fly thousands of miles just to hear one person’s story, face to face. To be frank, I don’t understand, either. It’s just what I do.

When I step into an airport and leave the TSA behind, when the plane takes off and I fly with two hundred other people going in the same direction, but to different places, it feels like I’m jogging slowly through a land line, through the wires we had prior to the digital age, crisscrossed over the country like roots of a tree. And when I ‘m face to face with a stranger who wants to like me and wants me to like him, and there’s a mustard seed of vulnerability between us, we both can entertain in the possibility of jumping to an entirely new planetary system. If only for a moment, we can hit one of the infinite number of beginnings and endings in the universe.

I like that.

On another note, wouldn’t it be cool if food delivery guys wore capes that caught the wind while they were riding their bikes? They could shout onomatopoeic exclamations while delivering food.

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3 thoughts on “Doorways

  1. Such an intelligent way to highlight your dates. And, intriguing. Doorways – what a good descriptor. Thanks for sharing this one. I found it particularly intriguing.

  2. Hi! I found your other post through Freshly Pressed and read back since I found it to be entertaining and this one made me go; ok, I need to say it. I really love your writing, your sense of humour combined with honesty and insight. Your writing oozes an openness, a genuine interest in people. And I really loved your portal analogy!

    • Oh, cool. Thanks so much for reading.

      I’m convinced more and more that I’m right about the portal thing. It’s very strange!

      Thanks for touching base and your kind words. I really appreciate it!

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