“It’s okay,” Sailor said, “it’s going to be intense.”
How did she know? How did she know what was coming?
Things flashed back to me, at a terrific pace, tearing through my mind and body, memories rocketing through me like a river charging down a rapid.
I remembered a relationship I’d had, there in New York, but years before. I’d lived in one of the last cheap apartments on the West Side, way up where there were those Chinese-Cuban restaurants on Amsterdam; we’d shared the space, a skilled concert pianist from Armenia and some other musicians, a percussionist from Portland, Oregon, another pianist from Mexico, and my roommate, whose closest male friend was a pool shark, and would come back early in the morning, his pockets lined with hundred dollar bills.
The relationship I’d been in was hot, insular, toxic, paradoxical… Because we loved each other so deeply it was magical.
And we fucked. Oh lord we fucked. We fucked on the floor, against the dresser, in the toilet, the shower, against the frosted glass in the dead of winter, wherever; we were in our twenties, and never got tired, and came everywhere. It was a time when we were fucking with an urge, and an anger, and a hunger, and a need. We were exorcising ourselves through our fuck. We didn’t know what was wrong with us, and we were trying with every cell in our body to get rid of the thing we couldn’t find.
During this time I was a heavy smoker; it was bad for a dancer: 20 cigarettes a day, maybe more.
Often when I was down on the street smoking I would encounter Malakian, the pianist, whom we always called by his last name. He was often gone concertizing, but when he was around, I listened to him. He spoke either not at all, or in a complete paragraph, before falling into silence.
Once Malakian said to me, “Hey, it’s okay that you are enjoying her. And I don’t want to impose myself. Please just let me say this. A little noise…okay, you know, when the feeling is so good, and you want to cry out during sex…okay. But the crazy shrieking and all this, that I heard a couple of days ago. Man, it’s too much. Good sex is one thing, but it’s not the holocaust. Please.”
I nodded my head in deep embarrassment. Malakian touched my shoulder, and finished his cigarette. She and I were quieter after that.
The memory was gone.
It was inevitable: I was coming to what I had to say to Sailor.
“I love you,” I said. I blurted it out. It didn’t feel right, but I’d had to say it.
She looked disappointed…as if this were exactly what she’d been expecting me to say.