Seeing That Horned Man in That Raucous Cavalcade.
“Don’t leave me.”
He said it puckishly, a slight smirk flicking his stubbled upper lip up and making his liquid eyes gleam. It was almost closing time at Beauty Bar, that nostalgia-bedecked alcove of SF hipster nighttime antics.
Some people were headed to a warehouse party in SoMa, and as people made furtive plans, he grabbed the sleeve of my leather jacket: “Don’t leave me.”
He said it so brazenly, so directly, I was flummoxed. Blushing, I acquiesced.
I rode to the after-party on the back of his Vespa, he seemingly rode some electric nighttime wave as the flickering city undulated like a toothed lullaby and he rocked like a solid ship through the glinting surf.
My thighs wrapped around him, one hand cradling his helmet in boastful insouciance, the other my beer that sloshed a frothy wake behind us.
He had given me a sip of his beer at the bar, in my excitement I drank it too fast and created a geyser that splashed my face, cool froth on my embarrassment-heated cheeks and lips.
“It’s cool, man, it was actually pretty hot.”
He said it like he said everything, a non-committal joviality that conveyed either relaxed earnestness or complete winking jest.
That’s how we started, funny encounters that evolved into an odd friendship.
We’d hook up between his girlfriends, I never dated.
I can still remember the flecks of Sapporo on his mint green Vespa reflecting the refracted world of nocturnal San Francisco.
“What will this become?” I reflected to my refracted self.
Over a decade later, and I know, it ended on the steps of the Capitol.
When I saw that horned man bellowing in bestial fury, a self-described shaman, I realized how easily realms of transgression, novelty, spiritual dabbling and rebellious freedom can become corrupted and infiltrated.
Something in that image fit together the missing piece of the mosaic, it shone like the trembling droplets skittering off the smooth paint of the Vespa that night to fleck the light-spattered night with its sticky effluvia.
So much of what I loved about him is why he’s fallen for the snares of warped thinking that led a motley band of would-be patriots to storm the Capitol and lay siege to the democratic process.
His child-like ability to suspend disbelief mirrored mine; we could hide out in his Sunset house, sipping beer, watching Ray Harryhausen creature features, smoke pot, and make out.
It was his rapturous freedom of thought, the untethered free-wheeling that I related to and loved to join him in, that has now been enmeshed simply because it is unable to rein itself in.
Never before had I felt discomfort with his ranging ideas, like his swerving Vespa as I squeezed him python-like with my legs, laughing as street lines blurred into stammering suggestions, his fingers that roved where they would after so many Sapporos.
The man I love to talk about other civilizations or beings or dimensions with is now frozen in one, as wildly populated with mythology as any fantasy flick, but this time he’s trapped inside.
For a man who spends his days surfing waves, the liquidity of his thinking has now washed up and been stranded on strange shores.
Watching Godzilla with him one night as the juggernaut reptile laid waste to Chinatown under a doom-lit sky, he said to me that we’d just go into the tunnels if we were there.
My head on his massive shoulder, my face hidden from his searching lapis eyes, he couldn’t see my tears.
Tears of happiness because I had a friend that took trips, in cinema, in thought, in life, like me.
A friend that was always running through odysseys in reality or imagining, and he had brought me with him, we were on a quest together.
“Don’t leave me.”
His eyes seemed to implore this of me last time I saw him, pleading with me after we had dinner and I stirred in my seat, preparing to depart.
And I never thought I would leave him, not really, my strange, transgressive, wave-riding Viking of a man.
A man who saw the liminal spaces in life and wanted to bleed through them, seeping his essence through portals of thought, into other realms.
Seeing that horned man in that raucous cavalcade ransack the seat of the republic, trying to stop the democratic process, it allowed me to witness that those who had the ability to suspend disbelief could be found in their mental travels, twisted and perverted in their freedom.
In this moment, one needs the ballast of critical thinking to counter a sail full of wild maybes.
Perhaps seeing the feral bellow of that self-described energy worker as he descended into that dystopian fever dream, that roiling attempted coup, finally brought me to this dimension.
To look at my own free-thinking wild man, my friend, lover, adventurer, and realize that I had to leave him.
His wildness always excited me, sleeping next to me I could still smell the ocean in his thick blonde locks beneath the saccharine scent of his shampoo.
I could still sense the oceanic matrix of teeming life hidden in the dark gold of his coils, as if the primeval depths were conspiring with his dreams.
I loved how he looked asleep, this large yet sinewy man, always asleep on his back, like a beast so great it had nothing to fear, no need to curl into a crescent of somnolent security as I always did.
I’d pet his head and think of Circe on her remote island, stroking a savage beast transformed into a docile companion for her delight.
But now, after seeing the country I live in riven into two dimensions that seem to be irreconcilable, I see that it’s time to go.
I can’t pretend to be on an enchanted isle with my wild creature asleep beside me as our world burns around us.
As the mad machinations of this other reality began to intrude more and more into our conversations, spitting their strange miasma at me just as the gleaming droplets of beer painted the wind on our first ride together, I started to feel the distance.
When I saw The Shining City On The Hill fall, I knew I had to leave our hidden island.
I have to leave him.
Maren Zweifler enjoys teaching Yoga with a focus on free movement and intrinsic shapes, emphasizing spinal fluidity and innate, primal posture. Deeply inspired by movement systems that embrace nature like Sridaiva and Continuum Movement. He completed a 500-hour certification in SF and has taught both there and in Austin where he honed his skills teaching private classes tailored to the individual needs of his clients. He created a wellness/yoga program at a non-profit. These experiences allowed him to explore both the unique individuation of the physical experience in one-on-one sessions, and the commonalities of the human form that can be witnessed in large groups. You could connect with Maren on Instagram.