Chandra was born on July 4, 1974, at 7.55pm, in Mexico, near San Diego. Her name means crescent moon in hindi. Not that her parents are of indian extraction, they are european, but at the time, they were hippies.
As an experiment, I made a morph of our two faces. Check it out - it turned out pretty weird.
Chandra and I met at Swarthmore sometime during my first semester, freshman year. It was a birthday party for someone I didn't know, an upperclassmen, so I was the odd man out. I remember being glad when we spoke, because not too many other folks were conversant that night. Unfortunately, we never made it past her third question - "When's your birthday?"
I was later to discover that I had been assimilated into her astrological consciousness - she had pegged me Sagittarius.
Long about April, the next semester, I notice her around my neck of the woods a lot more often. Some friends of hers lived across the hall, so we ended up hanging out their together quite a bit.
At first, I liked her alright, she was funny, and smart, and pretty. I was doing my own thing then (mostly the web), I didn't really chase her down too much.
Then she had my friend Raina tell me clandestinely that Chandra was interested in me. That turned me on, she radiated possibility. Our time together took on a greater charge. One time, we were hanging out across the hall together, sitting next to each other on a bed, under a blanket. Our hands met, we groped and held hands secretly.
A few nights later, Sunday April 10, we were in the student lounge together, and finally alone. We spent a few hours talking - introduction stuff, fun, taken, she was stimulating as hell, just entrancing. We went up to the radio station to watch some friends do a radio show, and went back to her house for more talking on her massive green couch. It was about four hours before we began fooling around, fifteen minutes before we were having sex.
From there on in, she was on my mind constantly. I relished any opportunity to visit her, to cuddle, to engage her incisive analytical mind. She had an uncanny presence, distinctive moves, like water. She appeared as an elfin princess, with a funky ass wardrobe. She liked to wear a full-body red pajama suit, with one of those buttflaps. She was especially proud of her full length green astroturf overcoat.
In those days, at Swarthmore in May, we spent most of our time together in her apartment. She would teach me about astrology, I would eat her wonderful cooking, and we would talk for hours.
Throughout our relationship, she was always baking, preparing food. When we first started hanging out, she was constantly chopping. A lot of cucumbers, carrots. She said it was theraputic. Baking too, every day was a new loaf of ginger bread, banana muffins, corn cake, quiche, anything. She didn't plan it or use a recipie. It was an instinctive ritual. I was glad to enjoy the fruits of her labour.
In the first week, I remember going back to my room, after pining over her and deciding against visiting her, for fear of fostering obsession. I felt sad, climbed into bed and went to sleep. I was woken up when she knocked on my door, came in, and climbed into bed with me.
As the relationship matured, things soured. The longer we went out, the less we had sex.
As it turned out, we were both headed to San Francisco for the summer. I was working at Wired, and we ended up living with Jonathan Steuer. My work was more important than it ever had been, fantastic things were happening. She was not interested in sharing them, she was rather alienated by the entire Wired experience. She lead a distinctly non-wired life, and found the tech talk stifling, the work politics tiring.
I had found her boundaries, begun to discover her depression. Most people vacillate between happiness and sadness. Chandra was accelerated, extreme. She was the most sensitive person I had ever been around. She was constantly absorbing group energy, interpriting it, and wincing under its weight. My fearlessness became insensitivity.Chandra loved the Velvet Underground with a passion. Lou Reed's voice was synonymous with sexuality.We agreed that she was an old soul; she was fond of saying I was young.
During our summer together, we listened to an enormous amount of Ice Cube. Her favourite song was the scathing Cave Bitch, Ice Cube's invective against siren white women.
It was her twentieth birthday on July fourth. Her mom and I, at my suggestion, and against mom's slight protestations, planned a surprise party at a Thai restaurant in Berkeley. Chandra doesn't have a broad circle of friends, but we found a few from her past that were around, and coupled with relatives and family friends, we had a decent showing for a mellow surprise soiree.
She had told me she didn't like parties, and resented me for putting that one together. I thought I was vindicated because she seemed to have a good time. She felt trapped, completely betrayed. She hated it.
August was worse trepidation, ambiguity - always a feeling of not being close enough, of being distant and disturbed. I wanted to lift her out of her depression, she felt she wasn't close to me in all the right ways. The more we talked about it, the farther we grew from eachother. There were occasional high points, but the relationship was draining the both of us.
We took a trip up the coast of California in August, before she left for Swarthmore. Through Napa Valley, the Ferrari-Cerrano estate, where we sampled wine and skipped out, cuz we weren't prepared to foot a tasting bill. Up north, toward Mendocino, we camped out together, and spent a few hours sitting on coastal rocks under moonlight. In Sebastopol, we stopped at her aunt Gizelle's, where we took an outdoor shower together, overlooking a valley lined with apple orchards. Her aunt spent most of the time selling us on Rocky the Range chickens, organic fattened prime roasters requiring minimal setup for juicy meat. She was really into these chickens, they'd just made such a positive difference in her life. I mean you can come home, throw a chicken in the oven, and forty minutes later you have a good meal. See that meat? Tender. Juicy. I didn't have to do a thing! Just throw the chicken in the oven when you get home, and forty minutes later...
She wanted to send us off with some, we promised to buy one on our way home.Chandra was unusually close to her mother, Pamela Lenaro. I remember finding her curled up in bed with her mom on several occasions. At other times she found her mother frustratingly detatched. Chandra spoke of deep subconscious bonding - sharing pain as twins. She changed her middle name from Marie to Zell, taking on her mother's maiden name.I took a semester off to stay for the launch of HotWired. She went back to Swarthmore. We did not forget about each other, we kept up with intermittent packages and e-mail. We were not connected across the continent though, when I was not there, she was in her world alone. I had work and San Francisco to keep me busy.
Her mom is a Montessori school owner/administrator, having been a tofu burger saleswoman and an artist. At one point, Pam worked as a maid so her daughter could go to a posh Palo Alto all-girls boarding school.
All this resulted in Chandra graduating from high school at 15 years old.
Her mother's sacrifices and Chandra's incessant cooking and maternal leanings helped me recognize what my mother had provided for me, and forgive her for what she did not.
A grave misunderstanding precipitated by mutual restlessness and dissatisfaction lead to a screaming telephone fight one day in November, when we both exposed the length and breadth of our infidelities. I was crushed, she had fucked her ex-boyfriend one hour before having sex with me over the summer, and again in October. It felt like revenge for something I hadn't even done yet. She was angry that I was spending my evenings in intimacy with another woman - I thought it was cool because we hadn't slept together or even fooled around much.
We fought on the phone, too often from my desk at work. We broke up, she broke me up, she was moving on. And then somehow repair, she returned in December, and it, she was beautiful. Things were as new again, no doubts or fears or recriminations.Kissing her was like kissing a vagina - she used only her lips, brushing, enveloping. She complained that I used my toungue too much, penetrating her mouth.We had a fight one night. I told her I could stand her anger. She didn't believe me. I prodded her to release it, to expose me, that I could take it; I wanted to know all sides of her. She looked at me, squinted her eyes and spat "you caused your father's suicide. You drove him to kill himself."
She was often sick those days. We took a roadtrip to Los Angeles. I stayed with my brother, she stayed with her Aunt. She was ill, severe fever, when we left, and became worse immediately upon arrival. The last night there I stayed with her at her aunt's house. I looked after her a bit, she was on the mend. We both went to sleep. In the middle of the night, I awoke to her touch, light groping, stroking, so sensual caressing me. No words were spoken, I didn't touch her. She worked the both of us into a frenzy, and we had terrific healing sex.
When we arrived back at Swarthmore, our perspective shifted. I was feeling strange, dropping in midyear. I spent a lot of time with her, right off the bat. In the middle of January she recommended we spend more time apart, we spent the rest of the semester breaking up.
April we had our harshest fight. She was stuffing bagel in her mouth while I was trying to tell her why I was angry she hadn't waited for me. I threw the bagel down on the floor. She slammed me across the face. I slammed her back. She attacked me, I bear hugged her to stop the fight. She called the operator and protested domestic violence.
April 14, our first anniversary, we share halibut dinner, I read her a poem. Things are tense, she puts me on conversational autopilot, I'm pissed - she doesn't have the energy for me anymore, we finally called it quits.
We tried to be friends, her stipulations were that I share none of my poems with her, and we share none of the details of our personal lives.
Chandra liked to fight in public, or maybe we just saved our most dramatic moments for outside the dorm. First of May, we had a twenty-five minute clash on the lawn of Swarthmore, people walking by and furtively avoiding glances at Chandra's tear-streaming face. She told me I was deluded and sick, that she knew I was going to die before I turned twenty-eight, and that I was repugnant to her.What bothered her then about me was my insensitivity - insistence on pursuing my vision, when it might impinge on other people's space. One basis for her argument was the time I djed pub nite - if I am performing a service for people, I have to respond to their needs, or else it sucks. She went out of her way to tell me how shitty everyone thought it was. Over and over again, everyone hated it. Everyone thought it was horrible (they didn't, or else some were just being nice to me). What are you trying to prove? So that's who I am, I can say nothing more than I have to do what I want, if I am djing, or else there is no pleasing anyone.Chandra was prescribing administration of other people's needs such that self-assertion came across as insensitivity. It was a debate between art and service. Play your vision, or for the crowd?
In a year of going out, I wrote over 75 poems about her. She didn't care to read them, just as she has turned down my offers to show her this web page. On one occasion a few months later, I did describe these contents, step by step in detail to her, and she granted me leave to post this.
There was one piece I wrote that she dug alright, a sort of fairy tale: Marked by the Moon, Strengthened by Saturn.
Some of my most potent writing is about her.
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