know her as, sebastiani

Philip kobylarz


     Finally it rained in California and the promise of seasons made travel obsolete. A winter-ish fall had come and that is all anyone had wanted: difference. Enough of the constancy of sun and the wavy hair of palm trees undulating slow-mo in breezes of salt watery, sea smelling, warm and absolutely-unreal air. Wind that is like breathing. The peninsular mountains donning a mantle of resplendent green, decked out in swaths of Monterrey pine, bay trees, chaparral of multitudinous varieties posed like a hanging garden of Babylon against the white fluff mimicking snow, balancing like batting on a horizon-long ridgeline. Fog suggesting Japan.

     In paradise, I had found myself alone. She had left me. Finally. They always do in the end, or middle, or sometimes even the beginning. But I am the abandoned type, if I say so myself. A pariah to the concept of togetherness. Condemned to be alone, as we all, finally, are. It is the cross I daily bear, on which I nightly nail myself upon, a Yamaha speaker used as a stepladder to assist my bloody and none-too-easy task. The thoughts that come to me suffice quite well as a crown of thorns.

    The house she left me in has been bought. It sits upon a hillside in a cookie-cutter neighborhood in the East Bay of San Francisco. Let's face it; in a big, all-too-big, stupid America that, especially here, desperately tries to substitute itself for some version of Europe minus the authenticity, or a Latin America completely devoid of passion, or even an Asia without the values or hardcore ethics that bind people together. It's a place that continually tries to define itself as the memories of the places people have visited.

     The house we lived in has cardboard-thin walls and the lowest of the low quality Home Depot bathroom furnishings, suggesting the finesse of a rest stop. Cheapness pretending to be style. 1970s design not in a retro flare, but in a stolid, uninspired mandatory-ness that made little sense: wood beamed ceilings painted dark brown, a French door leading into the kitchen, tiled countertops, linoleum, a broken intercom system. A building without a vibe, or the vibe of a shipping container left on a hillside, the contents inside slowly becoming perishable.

     Having failed this life, as if life itself could promise anything, her departure came as another, small, notch in the proverbial lipstick case of how I have personally lost, am lost, am adept at losing, and, for the brief tenure of my life, have never really understood the meaning of being. If there was only one thing I knew, one thing at the core of my being, it was this and only this: she was my everything. A Gala to my illusory Dali-ness, my rock, my center, my beloved, why I was alive, my Wonderwall. Older than me and, yes, age does matter; she, in a way, a very real way, taught me exactly how not to be. But I had thought it was the way to be. Years of my life, a life, any life, lived backwards. In error. In her war. Battling daemons I could not see.

     When the eighth level of hell intersects with Shangri-la, what is one to do, the eternal question asks itself? Where and when is it that we turn, not the other cheek, but turn, mocking the dervishes that whirl, and spin, eyes closed, to find, upon opening them, the view to be a silent, four-bedroom box placed on a canyon side, an odd color of blue, in possession of an income as paltry as my lifelong investment in the materiality of existence, and this cardboard cutout mock-up, background to my crowning moment. A job as an online, hahaha, teacher. The king of nothing presiding over nothing in the realm of nothing surrounded by stunning views of nothing. Life had crystallized into a worst nightmare that had in turn metamorphosed into the greatest of all dreams. Life, you're funny that way.

     I would have to find her. All I ever wanted to do was love. All I ever needed was her. She is me. I needed a she. She needed a me. We needed a we. This is called belief.


Recent work of Philip Kobylarz's appears or will appear in Connecticut Review, Basalt, Barrow Street, New American Writing, Poetry Salzburg Review, and has appeared in Best American Poetry. His book, Rues, was published by Blue Light Press of San Francisco. Philip's collection of fiction, Now Leaving Nowheresville, has been recently published and his book-length essay, "Nearest Istanbul," is forthcoming.