"When you went, how was it you carried with you
My missal book of fine, flamboyant hours?"-D.H. Lawrence

I saw Rasputin the other night. He chose to appear while I was sitting outside my coffee place chatting on a cell phone with a dear friend of mine ( she is the one who feeds me poetry and conversation on fridays and wednesdays). I looked awful. I hadn't slept in three days. My hair was a mess. My make up was all worn off. I was wearing a drab outfit since I only had one class (one of my father's old sweaters coupled with an old pair of J Crew corduroys). I'm slouched outside on this bench snarking away about something ridiculous and girly as I didn't have the mental capacity to say something truly interesting, and I looked up and he was walking by with his son.

Actually he hadn't walked by yet, I saw him long before he passed in front of me. I felt someone watching me, and I looked up to meet his gaze. It had been so long I had forgotten what he looked like. He had become more of a concept, a collection of sensations, the surprise of soft male skin under my hand, a few sung phrases from operas, a soft rolling r, a few phrases, a screen name, an ugly electric green binder holding his novel that has remained untouched under my coffee table for a month. I remembered his clothes, how he dressed, his gold crucifix, his "Rudolfo" scarf, his blue jeans and worn grey sweaters, his black boots ( which reminded me rather of Vampire Hunter D's) but not his face. I forgot that he has brown eyes. ( I remembered his lips however.)

I didn't know quite what to do. He waved at me, and I waved back. I kept chatting on the phone. It would have been impossible for me to extricate myself that quickly from the conversation, and I didn't want him to know that I had been missing him, missing his conversation, his strange perspective on things. ( The only man to ever say that my problem is that I am not a teacher, but really a researcher, which explains my constant issues with my job.) I kept chatting on the phone, worried that he think I was shallow and silly, cursing that I hadn't re-applied my lipstick or spent more time on my outfit, upset I was slouching, but unable to straighten up.

After the wave, I looked away. I gave him an out. He could ignore me. I wasn't going to let myself be rejected. He hadn't made contact, and I have no shortage of male attention. But he kept looking at me. Not at his son, but at me. He looked at me over his son's head as he took a drag on his cigarette. ( Oh lord how I have wanted a smoke this week. How much I wanted to run up and take it from him.) Not sure what to do, unable to end the conversation, unwilling to be the first to initiate contact, I waved again, which he returned. And then he was too far gone.

I went inside to Rohr's after finishing my call. I tried to focus on grading exams. I kept trying to analyze what had happened. "He waved, in fact, he waved twice. He could have ignored me. He could have kept going without even a nod. But he waved. Which is a good thing. But then he only waved. He didn't speak. He could have stopped and waited to say 'Hi.' He could have said hello without stopping. Maybe he was just being polite. He didn't have to wave. Maybe he was waiting to see my re-action. Maybe he wanted me to talk first. Wanted to see if I was mad at him...." I woke up this morning, and my mind was still rattling on this course.

What makes this encounter truly odd is I had been thinking about him for the last three days. Sunday night when I couldn't sleep Neil Jordan's In the Company of Wolves was on IFC, and I watched it. I have always thought of Rasputin as "the Big Bad Wolf", and in this film retelling of the tale the accented aristocratic werewolf made me think of Rasputin even more. The following night, "The Musketeer" was on TNT ( maybe USA). Dumas was R's favorite writer, and he once spent quite some time explaining to me the plot of the final Musketeer novel. So I watched part of it ( again, I couldn't sleep). My poetry friend dropped off a poem today that made me think of him ( began this post with an excerpt from it). So many signs and portends how could he fail to appear?

And then, I was thinking of writing him a letter (I wouldn't send it. I have a whole collection of unsent letters in my desk-going all the way back to eric and spanning up to Israel) he shows up. He thinks serendipity is a "made up word" (as compared to what I don't know-I think of serendipity as a more legitimate word than say "feministical") but I can't think of another way to describe it.

I hate to admit it, but I miss him. I looked down on him, on his creationism, on his total lack of shame, on his arrogance. I thought it would protect me. I thought it would keep me from missing him. But he surprised me, not in what he did, but the re-action he provoked in me. I miss talking to him about authors and poetry that rhymes and Opera and female writers. I sit in R's for hours, and although I would never admit it, there is a part of me that is always waiting for him. Hoping with every kiss of wind on the back of my neck that he has come in. David wants to ship me off to Paris because he claims, "There will be dozens of Rasputins walking the street, clamoring for your attention...And they will actually HAVE talent."

"And so I sit and scan the book of grey,
Feeling the shadows like a blind man reading,
All fearful lest I find the last words bleeding
With wounds of sunset and the dying day." -D.H. Lawrence

I guess the good news is at least he doesn't make me think of bad poetry.

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