On One Hand

February 23, 2006

The Camera

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 5:12 pm
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He holds the camera in front of his stomach like a basketball as he walks. He says that’s easiest way to keep it steady. I don’t understand how that can be true but I tell him “whatever works.” He’s often had to run with a camera during riots or a bombing so he should know.

He just got back from Iraq, where he filmed bloodstained teenage girls chanting God will avenge us America over the mangled corpses of their mothers and aunts. It is 2004 and the war is only a year old, but he is already calling it a lost cause. In bed he sometimes sits up shaking, gunfire rattling in his brain and I rub his back until he kisses me and lays down again.

I wish I could begin to understand what he has seen. I’ve watched his videos and they shake me up but to know that reality day after day and to keep going back is beyond comprehension. It is like a hunger for him and it scares me but makes me love him more. He has a scar on his cheek from concrete that fell from the mangled ceiling of a two-story house after a bomb. It’s new and still pink; soon it will be white like the others. It happened right before he quit working for the news agency, when they threatened to fire him because he kept putting himself in too much danger and his footage drew the military’s ire.

Now he’s making a documentary about wealthy American teenagers and their drug habits, which he spliced with material he got years ago filming poor coca farmers in Columbia. I tell him he’s making it too political but he doesn’t care.

The scar doesn’t look awful. He has tanned skin and a dark, angular chin and dark stubble, and light brown eyes and thick brown hair and I tease him saying now that his good looks are ruined we finally match. He hates when I say that, but I say it anyway, because I like holding him up. I know I am not unattractive but I like holding him above me because I love him and he needs it more, and because it makes me feel a way about him that is hard to hang on to.

I stay home when he goes on his trips. I’ve gone with him on the shorter ones; I went to Mexico and I helped with prepare interviews with the teenagers who do coke. He says I’m good at thinking of ‘poignant questions,’ and I say, well, I am younger and they’re more my age. But really it is because I don’t share his disdain for their privilege.

I don’t go on trips with him; when I do he works too hard to shelter me from everything and it distracts him and annoys me. Now I stay home when he’s gone and look after the garden, and write poems.

I want him to know how much I care, how proud I am of his work, but we don’t have that kind of relationship. We talk professionally about our professional lives. We just do our own things during the day and chat and fuck at night. We try to go on romantic dates and dinners and maybe it works for him, but for me, I don’t know, it’s just not real. We are not the kind to live in the moment, even we have been awake together all night. We talk about having children but we never will. When he’s away we both see other people, and I connect more to them than to the one I’ve lived with for – what – going on five years. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just the way he is, the way we are.

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3 Comments »

  1. yea…well good luck with all that.

    Comment by lackingquality — February 24, 2006 @ 3:00 am | Reply

  2. The only part of this I didn’t like was the use of the word “fuck”. Fuck seemed to throw off the narrative rhythm, abrupt a bit and it doesn’t seem like this personality would be so banal. Otherwise this is awesome. I like the speaker. He/she has definate character. I want to tell her/him not to be so passive when you write: “Now I stay home when he’s gone and look after the houseplants, and write poems.” It’s almost as if you’ve capture the true mechanism of this persons thought, except with the use of “fuck”.

    Comment by psycho_active — February 24, 2006 @ 7:12 am | Reply

  3. That was great. The word “fuck” was contextually exquisite. You should marry me right away.

    Comment by thefrescakid — February 25, 2006 @ 9:13 am | Reply


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