The dream is a haze of ghosts, ocean waves and thundering skies. He can hardly discern one scene from the next as a whirl of ocean waves toss the ship about. It is almost as though his mind is the ship, tossed back and forth…And Roás’s face. A gentle kiss. Nokoma feels Roás against him, grasps him harder, falling into the passion…
“Leave me alone,” Roás groans. “Get off my ship.”
Nokoma tries to pull Roás closer, to show his determination, but Roás pushes him back with tremendous force. He falls down between some barrels and fish pour out. Roás looks down at him, pissed off and self satisfied.
Nokoma, seeing that he’s unwelcome, hisses, “Fine. Fuck you and your death ship.” He storms away toward the dock, only to realize they’re far out at sea. But he won’t beg and risk his pride.
Just as he jumps over the side, Roás releases an ear curdling banshee shriek: “Don’t Leave Me!”
Nokoma lands in the tumultuous water and Roás appears at the deck, extending a rope. “What’s that for?” Nokoma hisses. “Where are you going?”
Roás demands, tearful. “You’re just gonna leave me again? Where you going now? The equator?”
“You told me to leave!” Nokoma roars.
Frustrated, Roás jumps down to the sea and chases after Nokoma, who waits, confused. Once Roás finally reaches him, he holds him tight, hugging, clutching for dear life. After a long, desperate kiss, Roás pushes him underwater.
The two fight, push and splash, competing, wrestling, Nokoma wanting Roás but trying to survive, Roás alternately making out wildly and trying to kill him.
The tumult builds as the two push each other around, pushed to unfathomable heights and depths by passing waves. The ship fades into the distance and there is only the two of them, struggling against themselves and each other in an oceanic storm.
After a long, terrifying struggle, the two begin to lose energy. Realizing at once that they are lost at sea, bereft of any more fight, with no recourse, their eyes meet. They both understand, at once, that death is near and it is inevitable. Without discussion, they embrace, hold each other close and cry in each other’s arms. There is no doubt in either of their minds that they will cling together until the very end.
Roás looks at Nokoma, full of heart wrenching remorse. To Nokoma, Roás’s sad eyes are the most beautiful orbs in the world.
And off they float, bound together in the blissful embrace of eternal surrender. Nokoma cannot help but laugh. This was all there ever was, and all there ever could have been.
Nokoma awakens from a dream of passion and death. Roás, wanting him, pushing him away. The two fighting until they float off at sea, clinging to each other as they realize they are facing their inevitable end.
This is Eros, Nokoma thinks. Sex and death. The other side of Eros is Thanatos.
You can’t truly love, in the erotic sense, without losing yourself completely. And you never know what will be left afterwards. Your entire life could be in ruins. You can lose it all.
He looks around at the castle pillars surrounding him as the sun rises. The waterfall. The high ceilings. The marble floors. He pictures the lovers in the glorious room just behind him. The matron beside him, with her sisterly smirk. The artisan making noise in a nearby room as she tortures some innocent robot. The dreamer, humming in the lake before him. The dogs wrestling in the water.
My family, he thinks. My home. I have so much to lose.
His heart feels heavy as he sits with this realization. Up until now, he had nothing to lose. The wild man. The animal. He embodied Eros in its purest form. He was willing to die in his own fire if only to be closer to his lover’s embrace. A kiss with no poison is no kiss at all.
But now, just like every other uppity prig, he has a home. A family. Something to lose.
And with that realization, Nokoma wonders: Did I just lose myself? Did I trade Eros for the soft comfort of family and a life of endless labor? Can I still love so fully with so much at stake?
He stands up, exasperated. Time will tell, he thinks. But he can’t help wondering if he just sold his soul.
I was in some ocean city with a weird electromagnetic building and I kept having visions – or maybe watching previews – of this giant building which looked like a crystal lump from afar, lighting up electrically and sinking into the ocean.
I remember walking past the building with you on the bridge in the same place where I had seen the vision of something odd exuding weird light and blowing up. So one day I went into it. I seemed to know my way around. The decorations were amazing low yellowish light, bone made art, wooden bookshelves, combo between rustic and steampunk, but the steampunk vibe was not explicit. As I walked through the aisles, I saw Brady, my first love. It was still the same setting, but felt like a dimension somewhere had shifted. I was emotionally by myself, you weren’t in my heart yet.
I locked eyes with him and we moved through the shelves in the shared mindset (I could feel it) that we needed to work this out once and for all. So we talked in these dark kind of serious but nostalgic tones for a bit. Then some women saw us. They looked like they were part of the setting… their style was in line with the rustic steam punk vibe, and it felt as though they knew something about us on a level that we needed to be cautious of. So, we headed behind bookshelves quietly and then, as we rounded corners, I looked over and saw the woman following us and her two friends. She was black looking with long hair and gigantic heart lips, bold as fuck, with a small dark gold axe in her hand and leathers on her body that signaled me she was some kind of warrior.
She looked over at ….Salvador (my best friend). It was as though he had been the one sneaking through the shelves with me, and his outfit suggested familiarity with the place… he was either from there, or knew about it and dressed to match. But this was his full style, like his real heart was born in this outfit. There was bone and claw jewelry involved. The woman stared at him. She wanted him. He and I knew we needed to keep to ourselves and somehow, I knew he felt like he could not let her find something out. So I looked at him and he was staring at her, unflinching, but I know he also knew I was watching and was telling me he would take care of this and confuse her (not in words). But I looked at her. She looked like evil other-planet warrior leaders in her vibe and garb, confident, in charge and ready to have her way. I did not know fully what that meant but I guessed, as I watched her watching him, that it was at least partly sexual.
I looked back at…you. She was looking at you and you at her, but you looked more statuesque, more ..dangerous. You had an outfit similar to how that place was and how Salvador’s outfit suited it, but you were a darker evolution or perhaps something more base. The sense i got was “bone claws.” And bone necklaces with claws and another that had special power. And snake rings on your fingers. Blackness around your eyes like those photos we took, and you staring through it in a similar way. Destruction was near and it was inevitable, but you didn’t give a flying fuck..bring it on. That was your vibe.
As she stared at you and you at her, you glanced at me, met my eyes and had a smile in your eyes. It wasn’t obvious.. it was a kitty glare, with some sarcasm. But I knew, I knew you were going to lure her from afar but if she got too close… destroy.
She looked at me and said something. I forgot but something like, I will have him. None can resist me.
I knew.no other could resist her. But I had no shred of doubt.. I knew resistance would be a much better outcome for her than what was actually going to happen, but I didn’t know what it was. I said to her go ahead. Try . But I think I only said it with my eyes.
She said aloud, something like: are you sure. He will not resist.
I saw no point denying her the right to move in on you because I knew from how she stood that she did not see me as an obstacle. I could say no, he’s mine, but it would mean nothing. In her mind (the energy gathered from below the hips which was thinking for her, both about sex and conquering or destroying in a bigger way) you were already hers physically and she was doing me a courtesy by pretending I had the option to give you away. If I said no, it wouldn’t stop her, but would signal weakness or provoke a physical brawl that I could not win. She had that axe, and the look of a woman who could conquer cities in one night. Her friends would also do her demands, slim short haired sleek beauties with no soul.
I looked at you. You would not budge – your eyes said so.
I looked at her, signaling to go ahead, with a half smile like: how do you possibly think you can break through what we have? I was not worried; I found it amusing and absurd. I said either aloud or to myself , something like “i dare you.”
She approached you. As you stared at her coming towards you, your body language revealed she was going to lose. You were so solid it warmed my soul, but it was also unsettling. Salvador, when he was there, had the look of knowing he was in control (though I was not convinced, but at the very least that was his aim).. you had the look of, do whatever you want but if you cross this point and come too close… OBLITERATION.
But you did not think it was destructive. She deserved it, it was a dare, she could still have time to leave, and her friends would be stupid as fuck to not run away afterwards.
She got to you and there was a stare down, very brief and fleeting, but it felt like time slowing down. Then she reached forward to choke you, probably only to induce a rush but not to kill you. One of the snakes on your fingers suddenly hissed and wrapped itself around her finger, then her neck. As the snake choked her and she tried to choke it, which lasted only seconds and happened so fast that I’m not sure what happened and who was hurting who, the world turned to.. light. A magnetic unnatural light that felt almost not there, like it sucked us into a void.
I watched you and you watched me but there was no time to move; everything was changing to another dimension where there was no form, even though perhaps it was temporary, and not like death. I knew though, in that last moment, that although you were in obliterating mode, you had no idea this would happen.
Then I was watching through the eyes of someone else, a middle aged male reporter watching the same building from across the water, and someone beside him took footage. It was the same crystal edged bizarre structure falling into the water while light came out of it everywhere that I had seen in my visions. And so many I loved were inside.. including myself.
The world was shaking, darkening. We have to stop it, a voice shouted. The world is ending! It finally happened! Etc. But while some panicked, some seemed to feel there was a way to stop it and things could change. Darkness swallowed the world as all of these sentiments floated around and I realized that was why Salvador was there. But his presence opened the path to something base, and you had somehow moved through it and materialized in that spot. No matter what Salvador or we had done, this would have found a way to happen. The electromagnetic dimension and time shifting energy of the place had a mind of its own and we were instruments to enact its will, you most of all, Salvador more of a messenger. And I was your reason to not go along with the flow of the place, to obliterate the forces that be, rather than to lose your soul. You changed the rhythm of life. Salvador and I both danced right along with it and you heard it best somehow. Your danger outfit, the black around your eyes… you were the destruction while also being the only one that did not play along. Or perhaps that is exactly what you did.
But now our only hope to be together or be the same again was out of our hands. And I don’t know what form we were in or how we could come out if we ever did. But I felt we would emerge and our souls would be charged with something very, very powerful that would require training and presence of soul to control. We would be the next force to set the other forces. Not gods but beings of energy that glowed from within us and could be so powerful that it was a responsibility to channel it. But that was only how i felt, if we emerged at all.
His hair is covering his sunglasses which are covering his eyes. He appears to be nursing a cigarette and a jack & coke but if we watch carefully he is replacing each repeatedly. His movements are so fluid we barely notice the cigarettes moving from pack to hand to mouth to ashtray. It just seems to rest in his mouth perpetually.
The conversation is pivoting and everyone at the table shifts position. Ruby remains still. Under his hair and sunglasses we can glean that he is not looking at anybody. He is not reacting. Everybody wonders whether he’s paying attention. We have all heard him recite a conversation word for word years after it occurred when we thought he wasn’t paying attention or was asleep. But we just don’t trust it. We have known from past experience that behind those dark glasses Ruby is present. Ruby is here, now. But he isn’t participating. For all of his silence his presence screams. He is thinking through a projector but his thoughts are made of emotions. There are no words.
There is some joking going on. Everyone cackles. Ruby doesn’t budge. Then a clever line. Under his hair Ruby’s lips dissolve into a grin. He is listening after all.
Realizing the reaction he has displayed, Ruby adjusts his position. He spreads his knees wide into a masculine territorial stance, claiming control, abandoning his previous distance and epicine posture.
He lights his next cigarette with enough deliberation to be noticed. Clearly he communicates angst. What did we say wrong? Is it that we managed to squeeze a grin out of him, or having too much fun while he is displeased? Ruby is not a man of many words but he is a man of many needs. His defense – what some refer to as his attitude – is “I don’t need anyone” “I don’t need anything.” And that stirs the silence.
But he is constantly filling needs. Smoking, drinking. Remaining still only to make a statement through the very shifting of his legs. Ruby doesn’t care. Ruby cares. Ruby doesn’t care. Ruby cares. Ruby is only at peace when he is doing something with his hands.
After the position shift he looks around the room. With his head still & hair down it’s hard to see his eyes shifting but I know he’s looking for something. I deliver. I can’t suggest a guitar. I can’t hand it to him. He will resist. “I don’t need this.” “I don’t need anything.” But his cigarettes are almost gone and his tension is almost cold. I know he needs it, and I know how to deliver it to him. I glance at the guitar on the wall behind him, subtly. Then I look away. Ruby doesn’t need to check for it. Now that I’ve looked in its direction, he remembers what is there, what he saw when he first walked in. He has everything memorized. With his back turned he knows what kind of guitar it is, what color, what type of strings, possibly what year it was made, and which rockstars have been most known for using that kind of guitar. He wants it, but he doesn’t want to make any requests. But the rest is up to him.
I resume conversation. I don’t trust Ruby to know what he needs but once he figures that out I can trust he will find a way to get it.
As we talk, he casually fakes oblivion, and unassumingly stands up, stretches, focuses on the guitar. His fingers are aching for it and my nerves are preparing. He might just noodle and practice scales. He might plug in and rip our hearts out. One never knows. But my heart is of no concern to me. If Ruby is satisfied momentarily – I will be at peace. I will have the chance to let my emotions wander. My emotions, my thoughts, my body language, will be in tune with the music but it will not be slavery. I will volunteer myself to the will of the music before it begins and as it moves me, controls and enslaves me, I will know that it’s a choice I made. I may feel I lack the power to unmake that choice at any time. I could leave the room, but that might hurt Ruby, confuse him. And I would never want to cause him any unnecessary confusion. But I know I have made the choice to let the music take me.
The only thing that enslaves me, erodes my will to refuse, captures me with force I can’t resist and never had the choice to resist, is Ruby’s body. His hair. His jeans. His lips. These enslave me, but the music allows me to abandon the idea of resistance. It offers a purpose, a focus for my vulnerability. A motion that everyone in the room shares. Ruby’s body has many women in a fix but at that moment, I was the only one in the room and it enslaved me, and I had to bear the brunt of its power alone.
Tell me something so I can release myself from this LIMBO.
Pervert me or cleanse me.
Erosia has locked the gates and will never let us back in
but you carry on as though one day everyone will be judged at the gates of Erosia
you uphold a standard of behaviour for everyone as though someone else’s manner will be absorbed into you and poison you or detract from your quest to make it back to a place that cast you out.
Erosia cast you out, Ruby.
Erosia cast you out because of what you did and who you were
And who you are.
You have not changed since Erosia cast you out except to pile on the traits that Erosia rejected
You do all the things Erosia cast you out for and you do them twice as hard, with vengeance and defiance
As though one day Erosia will see how well it worked for you and welcome you back in with all your bad behavior, your mistakes and your flaws.
But it doesn’t work that way Ruby.
Erosia will always be there for those who can love. In Erosia every day is Valentine’s Day. You are Ruby Valentine, you were like a prince there. You were more loved than anyone there.
Every day was your day to be loved and to love. But you could not love and you could not accept love so Erosia cast you out. The love of the people of Erosia had to go to someone or something that could give it back, that could appreciate it, that could grow with it and help it grow.
Love is not a commodity to vie for, or an accomplishment to praise yourself for, or a reward to collect and display on a shelf among other rewards, other items you have collected in the past. Love is not territory to conquer and love is not a conquest to keep you motivated. Maybe you think love was Love in Erosia, and out here in Dystopia, love is twisted. Love lost its meaning, or disintegrated. Love is corrupt and therefore you pursue it in the manner of seeking instant gratification, symbols of love, collections suggesting having been loved, conquests demonstrating your ability to win love… but it is not love you are displaying, earning and it is not love you are gaining. It is this thing we see all over Dystopia, this ideal nobody can reach. Those few of us who attain it are welcome in Erosia, but outside the gates of Erosia there are only seekers, conquerers, faithless objectifiers. But the problem is we all give in to it.
Don’t give in to it Ruby.
You don’t have to give in to it.
I am out here in Dystopia because I found myself unable to love in Erosia when you were not there to be loved. I found myself unable to accept love from other people like I did from you. Obviously I thought I could love and be loved but I was wrong.
Erosia cast me out because in my mind I embodied the idea, the concept of love, in your image. You, Ruby Valentine, were the figure, the external force, the bearer of all that I could understand of love. Without you I was unable to feel that within myself or to extract or share it with other people. But I realize now that perhaps I did not love you either. I wanted you to be the best you could be; I put your needs and desires before my own. I called this Love because it felt bigger and greater than I was. But the kind of love people feel in Erosia is even beyond that. It does not entail feeling rejected and disappointed by a loved one’s shortcomings.
Ruby – neither of us belong in Erosia. I used to believe that if we were together we would make it back to Erosia. We would heal and forgive one another and overcome everything. But now I wonder. If I loved you I might cry only for the emotion that stirs within me when we hug like I used to. I might cry because your guitar solo tears at the gut of my piano melody. Like I so often did in Erosia. But now I am crying because you are not here. You are not here because you don’t care about me enough to find ways to see me. You didn’t even see me for more than a few minutes when I came to see you. You walked away. I am crying because you don’t love me anymore. Because you are not the Ruby I remember or fell in love with, and I wonder if you ever were. I wonder if I fell in love with the best parts of myself that were magnified in your music and reflected in your image. I wonder if you – Ruby Valentine – were like a God to me. Music was the God that we both shared, and for so long we shared our music and brought one another’s – and the collective whole – of music to the divine levels that could be shared by our elevated consciousness and an entire elevated audience; the people of Erosia. But now it is not music I am lacking. Music pours forth from me but all of the music is inspired or driven by the lack of you, your love, your smile, your guitar solo. I have to pluck out the solos myself over a recorded track. You are not there with me. The music and lyrics beg for you Ruby.
And the force that runs through my body as the music spills out of my fingers is only divine because it fills the space that you left. I am filling that space in myself but I am crying because I wish it felt whole. I wish there were not a space fo fill; a riff needing a guitar solo, a picture needing another musician. I pick myself apart wondering why I need you. How I lost you. What I did wrong. Why you are not excited and yearning to see me like you used to. Why you treat me and your other friends like we are undeserving of your affection. You used to display affection towards all of your admirers and lovers. Now there is a standard no one can meet, and by pushing everyone away, you stay alone and you fail to meet that standard yourself.
But I am doing the same thing.
I am pushing everybody else away because they can’t measure up to you. Ruby Valentine. I push you away because you can’t measure up to my memory of you. I am at fault here and I expect you to fix it. I cry because you won’t change, but I am doing the same thing. That is why I cannot see you anymore. I can’t see you. I want to see you and be next to you or even watch you from afar – more than anything. But I seek you out and I see something else, something other than the Ruby I remember, and I feel disappointed. I can keep focusing on how you don’t measure up to the memory or no one else measures up to you, or I can remove myself and try to find out why I feel unsatisfied. I refuse to do what you are doing; to try to get back to Erosia when the only way to get back is to love where you are, and who you are, whatever and wherever that may be. But I am doing that anyway by trying to love you, or wishing you loved me. I am trying to regain something that I lost, or something that extracted me and rejected me. And I can’t anymore. I need to be here. In Dystopia. I can’t help wishing you were with me, but I know it’s an empty and self destructive wish because I feel the most distance between us when you are right next to me.
I want to see you more than I want anything in this world, and I know where to look for you, but it’s ‘fata morgana,’ a hopeless quest, because I never feel that you were fully there.
Please understand Ruby – I once loved you but now you have become a path, a symbol, a lost truth to obtain, a goal, a failure. I don’t want to objectify you anymore and I am going to try to stay away from you until I can fill that space myself and need you less.
My past letters have focused on you and us, but this letter is all about me, so I really don’t need to send it to you. It will not benefit you in any way. I just had to write it. This is where it ends. There may be more letters and feelings but I am redirecting them at myself rather than you, and that is why I address them to Ruby, not you.
“Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?”
The question was a whisper in a tornado of agendas, desires, and fears. The same question had been repeated countless times, by infinite voices, passing through lips on faces that would all look identical once the flesh disintegrated. The rhythm of the words was so familiar that their meaning was only a melody carrying the song of our culture from one century to the next.
I knew truth was relative. I knew it was a battle of perception. Yet I did not defend my beliefs. I made no attempt to argue that this entire procedure was nothing more than a social game, drawing distinctions and framing motives for the sake of analysis itself. Instead, I followed protocol. I swore to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.