Tonight, I will lie on my floor, curled up in fetal position and crying. There will be music playing so that my neighbours do not hear the loud sobbing. I will, for a few moments, feel ready to die. The welling up of all those unnamed feelings and unuttered words which I have been storing up all this time will gush forth forceful and unrelenting. I will wish, in the deepest darkness of this episode, that I could undo the past year of my life. I will rewind and write over the tapes of all the good things you did and said with bad intentions. I will walk through all the memories awash with alarm bells which I attempted to ignore at first, and then address as if I were dealing with a rational human being. Then I will finish with the absolute worst day climaxing at exactly 25 days ago, but I will not allow my mind to dwell on the details. I will say your name and my lips will be numb to the taste
It’s always something with you, isn’t it?
I’m either not ready or I’m too eager to possibly know what I’m doing.
I’m too young,
You’re too old,
We’re no good at this,
The friendship matters more.
You want me to remain objective,
To see clearly,
To use my head to think.
Yet I cannot get past the calls that come from you daily. Or the random text messages about nothing in particular. I know you have not promised me anything, but you have asked about my dark secrets and deep fears. I barely know you myself, but I am known by you so well you can tell when I am holding something back.
I’m supposed to be myself here. You say you like that.
So you let me rant and rave,
While you listen,
And collect pieces of myself,
And store them in a box,
To pull out at your own time;
To remind me that you still recall what I said about this or that.
To show me just how good a friend you are.
I had a dream about you today. It was a long and winding stairwell of memories still stuck on my mind. Instead of waking up in a panic, I lay still and let the images float to the fore, holding on to the threads of what I could recall so I could make you stay a little longer. I walked into the shower and played back the image of you lying next to me, bleeding, dying. It’s the same dream, only less terrifying now. It no longer scares me to think of you, to picture you, this way. I let the hot water wash over my back as I rested my head against the wall and closed my eyes so I would see the new image I have made up of you. I do not picture your face, but I feel you more closely. I want to count this as progress, to mark it on my calendar, and call up my old counselor to tell her that I am finally cured. Yet I know how grief works
I don’t drink it anymore, but I still like the smell of coffee. Aromatic. I cannot describe it more precisely with any other words because ‘earthy’ makes me picture mud or dirt and ‘woody’ is more like the smell of a man’s cologne. Also, the smell of coffee relaxes me. I needed to be relaxed for this meeting. It was not the first of its kind, but there are things that one never really gets used to. Like tests and break-ups.
“How is work?”
“Still slow. But it’s not terrible. How are things on your end?”
“We’re busy. The cases have been piling from February and…”
So this started before I came into the picture. I start to smell his cologne. It can definitely be described as having a woody smell. Wood and citrus. He stops talking.
“You seem preoccupied.”
“I am. It’s raining?”
I panic the way a woman does when it starts to rain and she only has a light sweater on and her umbrella is by the door back home.
“I’ll drop you off.”
One day, while you stood picking kale at the grocery section of Nakumatt Supermarket, you sang along to an old blue grass hit. I watched you and wished that I’d listened to more old classics in my younger days; just so we could sing along to this particular song together. You did this silly dance in public whenever I started singing something, which would always make me stop singing so I could beg you to stop embarrassing yourself. You would say, “But I’m not embarrassed” so I would move away and act like we weren’t together.
You used to say random stuff like “The mind is a whiteboard, wipe it clean” when I couldn’t sleep. Or “Your head is a tea cup, if it’s empty or it’s turned upside down it cannot receive new knowledge”. My favourite was your response to the news of my admission to a campus overseas. I had put it off for so long, I was sure I could not get in at my age. Even though I would not be going because
I want to kiss you
Not simply for kissing’s sake
I want to kiss you –
Just to make you feel
As if you couldn’t be without me
Without the taste of me
I want to kiss you
So you will miss me
To feed you a little taste
Of the frenzy that is lust
Not so much as to set fire
To your loins
But just enough
Just enough to make you
Miss me dearly
I want to kiss you
So you will
Unlike the one before you
Stay here with me
And leave only so long
As to miss the press
Of our lips together
And return to remember
So you see
I really really do
Want to kiss you
“Am I allowed to ask?”
“How long it has been? Yes. sure.”
“How long has it been?”
“Do you remember the last time?”
“Easier than I remember the first.”
“It started off with me feeling so full of something special that I was floating, everything blurring into each other with no boundaries and no specifics. Except the memories, of course. Those are always vivid. And the mind edits infinitely, so depending on the experience this is either a great blessing or a great curse. It ended with me feeling stupid and hollow and sunken. That doesn’t leave you either.”
“How long did it take you to get out of that dark place?”
“I haven’t. I’m not there yet.”
“Celibacy doesn’t take away the insecurities or the emptiness. It doesn’t always bring you closure. But it stops you from experiencing the first blow over and over again, because you usually will. You will usually go to that dark place over and over again when you become intimate with someone, old or new.”
We had a deal at the beginning of this relationship. You would only come to my house when I invited you over and I would visit yours to watch movies. The actual agreement wasn’t uttered, but we were both capable of reading each other and knowing what the rules of association were. We would stay in and cook together or for each other, listen to and discover music, share favourite excerpts from each other’s current reads. On the occasional Sunday, we would go for a long run and freshen up in our own houses, then meet up afterwards if we were both feeling up to it and you didn’t have to work.
Before we had gotten to this stage, I had spent the night in your bed. I let you hold me while we watched an old crime series. It felt good. It felt so good to be held in a man’s arms again. I like how you lie on my bed and stare at your phone or shut your eyes while I cook; neither of us