Wednesday, August 28, 2013

You were a dream

We met once, in a dream I had – or dreamt I had.  I recognized you instantly.  You were all my best ideas, all my wildest, saddest fears.  I stood naked before you – or I felt naked before you.  And it was night but there was something that felt like sunshine on my back.  And then you kissed me and we melted into sweat and hope and time. 

I wouldn’t recognize you now.  You wouldn’t know me.  The dream is not the same.  When we melted, we merged and when I woke you were no longer all my best ideas, all my wildest saddest fears.  You changed.  Or I did.  Or we did.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Does love go to heaven?

You told me you would probably always love me.  But you probably won’t.  Forsaken love dies because if it didn’t we would.  
I asked you if you think love goes to heaven.  Is the you I loved dancing with the me you loved somewhere between the blackness and the stars?  Is my best memory of you sleeping next to your best memory of me on a summer sunset bed?  Do they have the real ever-after, the promise we didn’t keep?
You told me that you think loves goes to heaven.  I'm agnostic, at best.

So, tell me, was that taxi our hearse?  Was that bed our wake?  Is that what death feels like?  Or does the end come later, in some other bed at someone else's hands?

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Measure of Time

It was a year ago today that I awoke alone in a hotel room by the airport in Chicago.  (Maybe I had never really fallen asleep.)  I cried on the airplane.  In New York, I had only two suitcases of belongings and no friends.  And the weather was much the same as it is today, temperate and overcast.  I was stubbornly sad, stubbornly hopeful.  That too is much the same.  And I’m sorry about that.  I didn’t know you then.  I don’t know you now.  But I could measure the year in notebook pages I’ve filled, in kisses, in tears, or in taxi rides.  And it all amounts to the two small, almost imperceptible wrinkles that have formed between my eyebrows – something about the way I chose to look at things and how I now look back.

Friday, August 16, 2013

From the Beginning

In the beginning, dating you was difficult.  Grocery shopping was difficult.  Getting to class on time was difficult.  Not crying on the subway was difficult.  In grocery stores, I had to remember that I didn’t have a stove or even any dishes in my new home so I had better stick to buying things that I could eat right out of the package – or, better yet, I should leave the grocery store and go to Starbucks and just stick to coffee.  And my classes were in the West Village. (Or was it the East Village? I still can’t figure that out.)  And every time I got off the subway I always managed to walk in a new wrong direction and get very lost – though it would take me a while to realize that I was lost because nothing was familiar so wrong turns looked right to me.  This would happen to me whenever you asked me to meet you somewhere for a date.  It was always somewhere I had never been and I always walked all the wrong ways so I was always late and overwhelmed and almost crying. 
In the beginning, you were dating me and I was a tourist with a very enamored guide.  The first time I went to Central Park was with you, on our second date.  Within my first month in New York and our first month together, you took me to The Met, The Highline, The Cloisters, the Lower East Side, The Museum of the City of New York, Brooklyn and Queens.  And you would drive me places in your car.  That’s how I learned the names of the rivers and the FDR and some of the bridges. 
In the beginning, I missed everything.  I missed everywhere I have ever lived or been before moving to New York.  I missed my friends, my brothers, and the idea I used to have of the person I would be.  And I cried almost every night.  But you didn’t know that, then.  That’s what went wrong, in the very beginning.  I was so lost inside the thick fog of loneliness, that sometimes I could barely see you.
After the beginning, I got worse.  You started taking me to your friends’ parties and I would find myself feeling like a tourist of their lives – their inside jokes and college memories, everything that they still had and that I had left behind before moving to New York.  I felt like an uninvited guest at the proverbial party, a resident outsider.  And I would end up alone, maybe in a corner, probably drinking too much.

In the end, I gave up grocery shopping, I learned my way around the city, and I stopped crying --for the most part.  I began to find a life for myself in New York, but I couldn’t find an invitation into the life that you already had before you met me.  In the end, you called me a contrarian.  You said you couldn’t be with me because I liked being different and I didn’t mind being alone.  But I minded.  That was the problem from the very beginning.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


When I moved to New York, I took a taxi from LaGuardia to my new home in downtown Manhattan.  I remember looking out the window as the taxi sped down the FDR (though, at that time, I didn’t know it was called the FDR) and seeing a billboard that read NYC: Tolerant of your religious beliefs, judgmental of your shoes.  Three days later, I was wearing a brand new pair of patent black leather high heels and I was watching them make small, pained, drunk steps down Second Avenue.  That’s when we met, when my high heels stopped on the sidewalk beside your dirty white sneakers. 
On our fourth date we went to see a movie on a Sunday evening.  You wore brown leather loafers and I wore pink Birkenstock sandals.  I told you that your shoes made me feel under-dressed.  On our next date, I wore high heels and you decided that we should walk over the Brooklyn Bridge.  I only agreed because I am afraid of heights and bridges and I wanted you to hold my hand.  When we got to the other side of the bridge, you were holding my hand and my toes were bleeding inside my shoes, so I decided to walk barefoot.   I don’t remember what shoes I was wearing the night you told me you loved me.  

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Summer Ghosts

That summer the air was humid, hot and heavy but the rain just wasn’t coming.  Its god-like, invisible presence was palpable in the breeze that ruffled the dry Midwestern grasses out on the front lawn and in the agnostic, doubtful glances that we were all casting up at the ceaselessly blue sky.  I was still dreaming in French then, passing afternoons in the local coffee shop and nights drinking wine at my writing desk in my childhood bedroom.  Nothing was happening, everything was looming like the storm that we all hoped break.  In August I would move to New York, but it was still June and Time was a holy ghost.
On a Saturday afternoon, after attending the funeral of a man we hardly knew, my brother and I drove down to Chicago.  It seemed like the only thing to do.  His car’s air-conditioner was broken so we rolled the windows down to let the highway’s dusty air cool us.  We bought Mexican Cokes at a gas station.  And we played all our favorite songs; we sang to the dashboard, the wind and the passing cars.  And every song was “Hallelujah” because we were both searching for the same kind of grace. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Last Sleep

I remember lying beside you in bed while you watched sports recaps and answered emails on your laptop.  It was a Sunday night in June and I had just returned from a friend’s going away party where I had drank and danced off most of what I had drank and left early to come home to you because I thought maybe that would be the night when the two months of you ignoring me in bed would end.  I thought you would see how happy I was, how well I was finally doing at establishing myself a life in the city.  I hoped that if I could be happy, then maybe you would be happy to be with me.  I remember I tried to kiss you but you said you wanted to finish what you were watching first.  I wrote in my notebook: We are beautiful, broken things.
That’s how we were then.  If we were in bed, you were on your laptop.  Sometimes I was on mine, sometimes I just sat there wishing you would close the screen and kiss me.  But each time you finally closed the laptop, you went to sleep and I would lay beside you in the dark, my body just barely touching yours. 
When those nights first began to occur and then reoccur, I would align my body with the back of yours and wrap my arm around you, laying my hand over yours, just the way I knew you liked and I would hope that you loved it. 
I remember the last night we slept in the same bed.  We met for dinner after work at what had become our go-to place that we went to almost every night.  And then we walked home in the pouring rain.  Inside your bedroom, I set my bag down and changed into one of your t-shirts that had become mine.  I remember that you kissed me, really kissed me for the first time in over two months.  And I thought that everything was going to get better.  You fell asleep first, with your head on my chest.  I watched you for a while; the way you looked when you slept like that had never ceased to mesmerize me.  There had been so many times when I had awoken in the middle of the night to find that you had moved in your sleep, trying to get closer to me, and I would smile at you and kiss your bare shoulder.  And sometimes I would whisper, “I love you.” And you would mumble it back, even though you were still deep inside your dreams.  That last  night I woke up a couple hours after we first fell asleep.   You were sitting up and your laptop was open and your headphones were on.  Suddenly I was up and fumbling in the dark for my clothes and my bag, trying to pack and leave right then in the middle of the night.  And then I was throwing my clothes at you and crying. 
In the end, I didn’t leave because it was late and it was raining, but mostly because I loved you and I wanted that to be enough.  I wanted me loving you to remind you of how you had loved me in the beginning, of how you couldn’t wait to get into a taxi together so you could kiss me and then get home and into bed so you could really kiss me. 
The last morning we woke up together, you slid closer to me, aligned your body with mine, wrapped your arm around me and lay your hand over mine.  We lay like that for a little while, but eventually I got up and kissed you on the forehead the way I had done every other morning that I had woken up next to you and then I got ready for work.  You got breakfast, as usual.  Coffee and a cheese Danish for me.  Coffee and a bagel for you.  And you held my hand when I walked to the door.  I still thought things were going to get better.