going to the skins

by tobias crabtree

one time, when i couldn’t have been sadder, i went to a friends house. i felt like i had swallowed the ocean and someone had poked a couple holes in my face, right in the corners of my eyes, and all the ocean was coming out, just one tear at a time. for days i lost the ocean out of my face. tears are not unlike the salty sea, you know? there might not be any difference at all.

my friend told me to cry on. she said it was my choice to cry and i would choose when to stop. although i said nothing, i didn’t agree. i felt like i wanted to stop but there was no stopping. damn the tide. damn that tide. the funny thing is, she was right; we do choose to grieve. i am just less advanced and so i have to be told these things. not long after that i saw my buddy, a big, strong, lanky galoot, come in with a broken heart. he looked like what i imagined i had looked like–the tiredness of sorrow is an obvious pair of shoes–and i watched him. he cried and then he allowed himself to recover. i saw him decide to heal.

i’ve decided to learn to heal as well. i’m not super good at it, but i practice quite a bit. this heart of mine has 45 year old skin, so it’s not as quick to heal as it may have been when i was younger. the thing is, i walk around and eyeball the world for sorrows. it’s in my nature.

now, i can laugh real good, i mean, i can laugh loud and long. i can laugh till the tears roll…and i do. but i see the sad stuff. i’m so damn ready to put myself in the skin of another. it’s almost a problem.

i sat outside a coffee shop yesterday and watched some dude with two deformed legs hurry between cars at the light and collect cash. i’ve given him some cash here and there but i know it won’t fix that messed up set of wheels he has under him. he’s got that for life. on and on. as i sat there a little dove came flying in and tried to go through the window. there was a thump and he fell to the ground by the trash can. i saw some people look and furrow their brows at the grey lump on the sidewalk. i was drawing and i left the dove to try and recover. i realized his tiny neck was broken and that he was suffocating. someone tried to pick him up to move him from in front of the door, but when he fluttered they jumped back. as he went into his final fight to bring air into his lungs he flopped around and i saw people look away. i stood up and grabbed him, he was dying for sure now, and i walked across the street to where the palm trees are wild and the racoons hustle between the bushes. i set the dead little dove down on the dirt at the base of a tree and i was sad.

i don’t know what will happen. i guess life will happen to me. and maybe when i’m flopping around and trying to fight off the inevitable, someone will help me find a spot to lay down. that would be cool.

there’s an old saying in Chile that i learned from some rowdies in the far south. they said that an old way of saying you wanted to go to bed is, “me voy a ir a los pieles.”  the loose translation is, ” i go away to go to the skins.”  i love that. it is what we use to do. we use to sleep under the skins of animals that were done living in them. in that way the skins had life under them again. it is an old way, for sure. our skins are like blankets to our bones. we wear our blankets around for a lifetime and we lay on down and go back to the big whatever else. that’ll be good for me.