How the Kippah Falls

27 Aug

I was sitting in a plastic chair, waiting for the rabbi to start class. The chairs were set up in long rows outside the classroom, the Hasids sectioned off to one side. The kippah on my head kept slipping off. I wasn’t used to wearing one. I looked to my right and there he was. River Phoenix. I didn’t ask what he was doing there. Instead, I reached over and touch the skin of his torso, his chest, his shoulders.

I can do this because you’re dead, I said.

He laughed. True, he said.

He turned his back to me and I lifted his shirt and touched his back. His skin was tanned and smooth, just like my girlfriend’s skin. I started telling him the story about how I met his mom on a plane to Palm Springs. He listened without speaking, nodding his head, a smirky smile frozen on his face. I said:

My girlfriend and I were going to visit our friends in Joshua Tree. The plane couldn’t land in Palm Springs because of strong winds, so we had to make an emergency landing outside of L.A. until the winds subsided. We were in a row of three. The woman at the window seat had pulled out a huge Tupperware container full of fresh smelling salad at the start of the flight. I leaned over to my girlfriend and whispered my jealousy about the vegetables. Then, the woman pulled out an even bigger Tupperware with cantaloupe. The smell of sweet fruit and compost, disgusting and delicious. When the plane emergency landed, we all started talking. She said her name was Heart, the letters of the word earth rearranged. We loved her immediately. She told us about her environmental activism and how she was going to Palm Springs for a ten day colonics retreat. Her daughter also lived there. Then she told us about her healing center in Gainsville Florida, called, The River Phoenix Center for Peacebuilding. I said, why did you name it after the actor? That’s when she said, I’m his momma. We talked the rest of the stop and into the flight back to Palm Springs. When we landed, we helped her with her bags and wished her well in her colon cleansing experience.

As I told River the story, he nodded, then he leaned over and kissed me. I decided to skip the class with the rabbi and continue to make out with River Phoenix. My kippah fell to the floor. I ignored it.

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