There, in California, in his room. He peeked under the sheet and began to laugh hysterically.
“Oh my god!” He cried.
“What? Stop laughing! What is it?” I said, my voice rising with each syllable.
“Oh my GOD!”
He ducked under the sheet again and then popped back out to say “Your body is ridiculous! Seriously!”
I was mortified for a moment and drew away from him. But he wasn’t finished.
“It’s PERFECT! I mean, look at it!” he said, lifting the sheet up into a tent above us. I squirmed and laughed and pulled the sheet back down so that I could roll myself up in it. Our eyes were filled with worship and we were happy, all awash in the chemical bath that is new love.
In New York I hung off of his arm, knocked nearly off of my feet by the fact that I was in New York City with him. My life seemed a grand adventure then, every turn promising something new, every moment carrying me further from all the mistakes I had made up until then.
Happiness, carelessness, stumbling…
So much daily life stuff that I began to feel overwhelmed by the need to DO, and by my inability to do things to his satisfaction.
The inevitable arguments developed and suddenly foolish grievances burst into being. Verbal knives were thrown with deadly accuracy, though they struck at fear more than truth. I pulled back, hurt and utterly bewildered.
We soldiered on.
On an old blog I posted a sketch of mine titled ‘The Boy On The Train’. It was a drawing of a guy in a coat, with a scarf wrapped around his neck.
“Yes, but who is he?” He demanded in an injured voice.
“A boy I saw on the train.” I said impatiently, angered by the absurdity of his apparent jealousy.
He went off to California for a visit, without me, and I went about my business. It seemed neither of us knew what to say to the other. He came back soon enough, and handed me flowers as he came through the door. I didn’t know what to feel about the flowers or his apologetic mood. Why flowers? More importantly, why now?
The arguments came again and I realized that I had laid myself bare to a person who could use that nakedness against me without shame, without regret. I was defeated, finally, cut down by a profound sense of betrayal.
Awkward struggling through each day. I pulled back and back until one day the bond snapped, leaving me alone. Free.
I found the letter shortly after that. He had put it on top of the dresser, sure that I would see it, and I had piled things on top of it, unaware. It was a heartbreaking plea to save us. It was hope and confession and Him laying himself bare, this time.
I saw symmetry there, and opted not to let sadness move my hand to disturb a finished thing. He packed his things and quietly left.
Years later while digging through a box I found the pictures and pressed between them the napkin. He’d written a note on it and slipped it to me one night forever ago:
I can hear you laughing in the other room and it’s making me happy.
I had since been cut down by him again, for the most asinine of reasons, so I felt nothing but amazement that time could be so revealing, the past so changeable in the mind. I have no room for regret in my life but I cling to the lessons learned.
The cost was too great to just let them go.