Aside 16 Feb

It’s Saturday and a rare morning of sleeping in. I’ve just woken from a dream of you. I was sitting at a table in a parking lot with people – I don’t recall who I was with – and you emerged from a building, wearing that shirt I hated and carrying a small child. I couldn’t make out her face, but knew it was one of your granddaughters; the youngest one, M. I didn’t move from the table and you walked off into the distance.

I got your letter. Jason finally gave it to me. You picked a rotten afterlife ambassador – it seems in the wake of your death, he met your wife who is apparently playing the devastated grieving widow like her Oscar depended on it. True love never dies and all that jazz. If true love conquers all, why doesn’t it compel you to avoid leaving your depressed, dying husband alone in the hospital for three days at a time? Maybe true love, if it’s so powerful, might urge you to take his sudden persistent cough as something more serious than an attempt to return to using or…whatever the fuck she was accusing. (I think I was an amazingly respectful mistress when you were alive, but in death I’m much less gracious.)  Remember my cough drop joke? It was so good to be able to make you laugh that day. In the end, it was harder and harder to reach you.

I was more than a mistress, right? I was more than that?

From you back in the day:

June 18, 1997

Dear K,

Something happened to me last night. Something got into my heart – in a secret little room that I keep locked and shrouded – and I couldn’t stop CRYING for all the feelings I have for you. Not just the sex – although that is certainly phenomenal – but the love, and the respect, and the concern and appreciation. You are so damned fine, K! A jewel, I keep telling you, but something along the Star of India or the HOPE diamond. And for the first time last night in my entire 40 years I crossed some threshold. The pieces of me that I never give away were suddenly out of my grasp. You are in me so deeply there is no way back. I realize that and it made me joyous and wretched at the same time. I have lived so long, so protected, and I don’t really know how to function in the light – not this side me, love. I love you so deeply that I can’t seem to breathe without speaking your name, like some Hindu mystic performing bhakti yoga, chanting the names of god. I realized, too, that no matter what…not matter what happens from this point forward: I am changed by you. I have taken you inside me and there is no place I look without finding traces of you. I love you, K. Much more than I’d guessed possible – much more than I’ve ever let myself love someone. I love you and I worship your tattoo because I selfishly think I am in there –somewhere amid the moon and the stars – and you will carry that piece of me with you always. I love you, K. I love you.

K

My moon and stars tattoo. It’s a good reminder, because I’ve been lamenting our caution. Our avoidance of mementos and photos has left me with nothing to physically hold onto in the nights when your absence becomes this pounding in my chest and tightening of my throat. I felt like I had nothing tangible, no physical proof of us, but an old, old map of San Diego on which you’d written directions to PB and its bar scene (because I needed a way to pass the time when you had to go) and: “Beware – there be demons.” I’d forgotten that I carry you in the moon and stars. Perhaps that’s why I find the night sky such a source of peace and comfort?

So the letter. Jason. What a dick. He held on to it for almost a year before somehow finally concluding that he was probably doing himself some serious fucking karmic damage and then he emailed me. Oh…by the way, he’s just published a book and he’s named a character for you. Isn’t he just the best friend a dead guy could have?

A few nights ago I was home alone with just the dim glow from the lamp on the mantle and a glass of wine. Pandora was doing its thing and Santa Monica (Everclear – forever a guilty pleasure of mine) started playing. That song  was on a mix I made for you once. Did you think those mix CDs were silly? I can look back now and see how a gesture like that – with the custom decorated jewel case … I feel like I probably used glitter pens for my album art … and the first album’s name ,“KW2,” a reference to our matching initials –  I can see how made me seem pretty childish and could only have magnified our age difference, something about which you were super uncomfortable in the beginning. That was something I was definitely not used to: older men wary about fucking college girls.  I have memories of waiting for you to show at my room at Pacific Terrace Inn, playing CDs with songs like Santa Monica and thinking that I’d like nothing more than to disappear into the Pacific, which was just feet from my hotel room patio, with you. Would we be swimming or floating or on a boat or on some island…I don’t know. I just wanted to be out there with you.

The song got me thinking about the first time we reunited after having been apart for two months. We’d had our whirlwind days when we first met – hours and hours spent devouring each other; an insatiable need to know everything. And then I’d gone back east to pretend to be a college student for a few weeks. When I returned we met at the lit steps of the convention center. I remember sitting in the dark on a bench afraid that this was all just some sweet illusion. But when you appeared I remember feeling like I was spinning once in your arms. Like it was yesterday, I remember how your lips felt, how you smelled, how my feet left the ground as you pulled me against you. When I close my eyes I’m back on the convention center balcony, leaning back against the railing with the ocean breeze lifting my hair and you lifting my dress. It was like we were the only people in the entire fucking city. Or world. What was it about you? Me? Nothing so remarkable about either of us individually, but combined? My god…every soul mate cliché mashed together, doused in gasoline and set ablaze. But why?

Will I be mulling the last 15 years for the next 50? If you were here, I know you could lead me to the answer in that way you had: always guiding.

It’s a total bitch that the one person who could get me through your death…is you.

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