Sixty minutes before my date is set to arrive and I begin doing crunches on the pink area rug in my office. Jhona brings his ball upstairs and plunks it down a few feet away from me. He stares with huge eyes in the dark hallway. I’m feeling calm and a little uncertain as I prepare for the night ahead. I’m listening to music the new man has recommended, Colter Wall.
I love the dark country jangle and boot stomping sounds that float out of my phone. The singer tells of a Devil who wears a suit and tie and how he saw him on the highway last July. I think of the time my mom told me that she saw the Devil. Hers also wore a suit, grey in color, and he hissed at her from a windowsill. It was when she was a lot younger and given what she’s been through, I believe her.
There’s so much out there.
As the soulful music twangs away, my fingers trace the contours of my left foot. I throw Jhona’s ball over the banister and hear him scramble on the hardwood floors. The furnace hums on and softly fills the air with warmth. I always forget about my feet. The skin glistens when I apply the body balm, greedily absorbing the oil. This feels like an act of kindness.
The night feels right, it’s slow and safe.
It’s early November and pitch-black by 5pm. Whatever time it is, it always feels later. I’m in this small room wondering what will happen. I do a few more crunches and feel my shaved body bits rub up against the unshaved, naturally soft parts. I wonder what it’s like for these two parts of me to meet. Do they already know each other?
Given the teeth-clenching, heart-deflating frustrations I’ve encountered over the past few months, I’ve learned to not get too excited about a date. Sometimes this makes me sad, and I wonder if good love or the kind of things I want from a man will ever come to me. I remain curious though. Will he smile wide at me from across the table and hang on my everything? Maybe he won’t be enthralled.
Will I rush home after dinner to let him touch me? Will he discover the stuffed animal lodged between my pillows? Sometimes I take it out before a date so that if the sheets do get pulled back and my white buffalo stuffie is discovered, they won’t think I’m weird for sleeping with a toy. I leave the faux animal tucked into its spot, like a secret for me to ponder.
Well, who will bring back my Johnny Boy’s bones
To lay ‘neath the trees of his Tennessee home
A box, a box made of sturdy white oak
With his arms folded up and his blue eyes all closed
The South is so mournful, but we never really bury it.
It keeps getting resurrected through song, food, politics, ghosts, and tourism. I imagine the singer, a young Prairie man of just 26 years, laying down this track in a Nashville studio. A young man in a cowboy hat, with pocketfulls of pain that line each growly note. I add one of the new songs to my PLAY playlist.