Tuesday, June 26, 2007



The curtain is still up at the recital and thank god none of the props have tumbled over!!! The orchestra has finished tuning and a dual-tailed conductor is ticking his orchestral antenae sharply on the top of a music stand. Pattered palms have transitioned from golf-claps into complete silence. There is the moment before the thick tonal chords foam and brush over foreheads and in this moment, somehow, on the stage, there is a picture of a female being formed, almost as if in the womb, she is turning like her whole entire body is a neon ferris wheel. Music licks earlobes swifter than lips, quicker than sight and a photograph of Jasna Snrdic apporpiates both mind and heart. Her hair is snipped short, sliced autumal red, and she walks on corduroy stilts, lanky ivory appendages, the back of her pants slightly sagging, bangs drooping into her vision. This is Jasna Srndic...she is an artist, a survivor, a pixie, a sprite. She grew up in war-tattered Yugoslavia. Her father was exiled for political purposes. She has been speaking english for less than a half-decade and she is a semester shy of graduating college. She is male and female, yin and yang, exiled and invited. And everytime she says my name it sounds like this: " DAVEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED"

Jasna spotted me several times before I had ever seen her. I was in the process of writing my first book, dropping out of college and having a few beers while I'm at it. Instead of studiously laboring over homework, I spent hours slapping out cheap sentences into microsoft word, trying to engender charcters and express a crazy verisimilitude. I had read too many "erudite" ugly books (Ulysses, Gravity's Rainbow, The Recognitions) and emulated their pedantic writing styles to the point of nauseation. I was dating a prof. ten years older than me back home who it turned out had an estranged husband and called me up sozzled one night,informing me that she had know found someone new, someone who looked just like me (long hair) but was her age.

I was merely a docile Pompeii to her capricious, unforgiving Vesuvius.

Jasna found me, in the computer lab, sawing off horribly shaped sentences for my book. She had her hair cut short and wore a thick sweaters so that her sex was by no means readily discerned. I was pounding out homerow mantras and she was laughing, a duclet laugh, hiccuping across the room, landing sideways on my shoulder. She was smiling at me, telling me that she had seen me from across the quad. She had seen me lugging books into my room, she had seen me here in the computer lab, flicking out sounds of snapped plastic and looking serious, oh, did I ever look so serious was I a writer? She asked. Could I be Herman Hesse she asked.

She kept laughing. Her smile sprinkled with cosmic glitter.

"I see you all time and never you seem to see me." She said, talking in beautiful curled; heavily twisted sentences void of articles. I looked at her (still trying to discern her sex--she looked like Peter Pan!) and offered her serious blather about aesthetics; collegiate bosh.

"You are serious. You look so serious everytime you I see." She ascertained, looking at the inside of my hands, as if perusing an interstate map. Then she began to laugh. "You crazy. Daveeeeeed is crazy." She said. Although I still couldn't tell what 'she' was.

Her name was Jasna (Yahz-nuh)and she was an artist. We would go on walks and she would pick up scattered leaves and hold them up into the orange patches of dusk. She would collect acorns and milkweeds. The grayish-taupe of a midwesteren autumn seemed to melt into her art. She was a painter. She had a painting at the MCA in Chicago! She was also a photographer. She had pictures of a Wilmette centered papal-hatted shaped building in her room. Both of us had no clue what the building was used for.

Her hair was trimmed exceedingly military short when I met her. She talked with torched nostalgia of Yugoslavia, of her grandparents who were left there, alone, spending the last years of their lives together. She talked about ethnic-cleansing. Her father was Islam. Her mother was christian. Neither of them were practicing. She talked of her sister who liked boys, of her sister who was a pharmacist in Vienna, she talked of her art teacher in Yugoslavia who she hadn't heard form in a long time because communication lines had somehow been severed....

....over the years there have been friends, lovers, associates, e-mail affinities, ersatz crushes, blogging buddies, townies, hippies, indulgent artists, anarchists, single-minded philosophers, material-driven yuppies and there has been Jasna, a friend I took for granted for a long time. She would slip elfish-slovanian writing on little slips of brown paper beneath the door in my dorm. She would leave me delicately wrapped sandwhiches. She would compare me to Demian in Hesse's novel. She would stare at the pictures of Ganesh and Shiva on my wall as if they were a branch steming off the same genealogical trunk.

She would also create art.

Three years younger and she was already three times the artist I'll ever be. At her request (reluctantly) I severed thick tressed of my hair and she tied them together, placed them in her apartment.

"Look, Daveeeeeeed." She said, pointing at thinly hair stalactites.

"What," I said, hardly noticing.

"No," She said. "Look past hair. Look at shadow hair creates. Look how it moves slightly, delicately."

She was right. The focus was the shadow, created by the light, shifted gravitationally throughout the day. We would hold each other in winter, in her apartment, her body smelled like nutmag and chestnuts, we would hold each other in a platonic bite and we would watch the shadow. Diaphnous ledger lines on sheet music, altered by the slight tug of a planet; a planet interfacing with a giant thermonuclear hearth, 93 million miles away.

Jasna also had charcoal pictures of trees in her room. All over her room. Black and white photographs of friends and smeared charcoal branches of trees.

"Tree's name is AVA," she said, offering the world her crooked ply-wood smile. "It is tree we walked under first day we met, remember?" It was the tree I used to read her stories underneath. Whenever I read her a story, even a menial paragraph, she would pogo noth and south smile and clap, like a observant mother watching her newborn crawl for the first time. Even the bad stories, which, even today, sprout nocturnally like whiskers.

"Ava," I said, musing.

"She never told you her name. But her name Ava. She tree from Yugoslavia." Jasna says.
Sometimes we would walk and Jasna would take off sprinting, for no reason, Yugoslovian sunset smile still soaked into her face. Sometimes, she would whisper things to me, as we would cuddle, saying the same vexing Amercain phrase over and over again in almost a scraped whisper.

"There no more time Daveeeeed." She said, quietly.

"Shut up." I would say, drowsed in sleep, her hiccuping into a whisper again.

"There time no more Daveeeeeeed."


But Jasna has been there. Poor herself, the summer I took off to write she sent me money for food and RENT, even though I didn't ask for it. She listened when I blathered about my romantic histrionics. When I phoned the saturday after my father's funeral she melted the airwaves with tears, tears for a man she had never met, but had perhaps, like Shive and Ganesh, she had somehow known.

Jasna and I have a friendship where we slip into each other and out---like strands on a DNA fiber, we find each other, weave out, circle a set of microscopic rungs called life, and until our individual strands sew into each other again. The last time I saw her I fulfilled a vow and took her dancing, at a gay bar no less.

"They not care here Daveeeeed. They are open."

"I don't want to dance." I said, under the kaledioscopic gash of lights.

"It's easy." Said Jasna. As she set aside her drink and began to pogo up and down, as if she were on a matress, twelve years younger, and her americain parents were away for the weekend.

"Here, Daveeeeeeed." She said, groping my hand, and we danced. We swirled, crashed into each other, apologized to a Queen whose Zima had slipped away form her like a glass scepter, but still, under the stuttering electronic lights of the dance floor, we lost track of our shadows, we lost track of time and we would again arrive back to her apartment and hold each other--simply hold each other, the moment the strand is unionized.

And the last time I saw her, when I said goodbye, the bus that I was suppose to be on was late. We would say goodbye, kiss each others cheeks, I would grapple my luggage and the bus driver would apologize, say that the bus that was suppose to be was behind schedule and would arrive in fiftten. Fifteen minutes later, at the sight of the aluminum hyphen we would embrace again, seed kisses into each others cheeks again, and I would grip the leather lobes of my suitcase to once again be informed that the bus I needed was still running late.

"Here," Jasna said, reeling a scrolled-telescopic shaped cylinder form her own bag.

"What's this?" I inquired.

"Open," She said, her beaded eyes averted, as if looking for the bus I was to take home. WHen I spread open the scroll it was a charcoal rendering of what I perceived to be a tree.

"Ava?" I asked, looking at the portly trunk flaring off into desoalte autumnal branches.

"No Daveeeeeeeed." Jasna said, " Daveeeeeeeeeed so silly."

"What is it then?" I asked, just as another bus the bus I was to take home, the bus that would charter me back to my home, back to my 80 work week, back to the pain and perils of commerce and civilization.

"Your bus," Jasna said, as we embraced once again, only quickly this time.

"Jasna," I said, inquring about the origins. The bus driver was sliding luggage beneath the steel guts of the bus. He was shouting tickets.

"It's you Daveeeeeeeed." Jasna said again. "It's your hands."

I looked again but she pushed and I fell upward, somehow, on to the bus. Knowing that I had just broken away (although only momentarily) form that friend whom I shared something inexplicable and sacred with. That person who I loved, only not in a way I loved say Swissy-Missy or the prof. who lauded me with compliments and then smiled duplicitously into foreign shadows.

The next thing I know I was on the bus and I was looking out, looking out past the dual-tint of my own shadow, out at Jasna, waving at me as the bus mechanically spurted and droned and lumbered towards the thick curve of the interstate. A scrolled charcoal rendering of my hands curved in my fist; and Jasna, the elusive adrogynous sprite who found me one day, a day when I was being too serious; the creature who stretches out the vowels in the center of my name, the person who planted my calloused palms and made stringed marionetted shadows with my own hair; I saw that person waving at me, an acorn smile gnawed at her lips, and looked at her waving until she became a button and then she became no more.

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