January 10, 2012

Letters I'll Never Send: #1

I would like to join the Peace Corps in my sixties or fifties or whenever it is that the days begin to feel routine and comfortable. Too comfortable. I don't know if I mentioned this already. Or if you mentioned it and I closed my mouth - wondering how it would sound if I said "me too." Desperate; decided all at once. So I didn't say a word.

Again and again. I didn't say a word. I, too, had already built myself a future life in that borough, before it tumbled out of your mouth. Yours conditional on achieving cool status and mine already unconditional. Built-in self-conscious, uneasy days walking to the subway and hot summer nights undressed in front of the fridge, door ajar, my air conditioning. I am not, do not have, enough. But it was already unconditional. And yet, I didn't say a word.

The questions I swallowed. I asked a thousand but kept the ones I ached to release.  What song are you listening to on repeat? How do you define yourself? Could you love me even if I am leaving? Will you leave with me?

Months later, I remembered I want to travel to India. South Africa. Siberia. Israel. I am not Jewish. I once wanted to live on a Kibbutz. I still might. "You paint, right?" It took me a minute to translate that question. Watercolor chalk on canvas, I had mentioned as a maybe-hobby. "Yes, kind of..." I stammered. I write. That is what I should have said. The first time and the second time and every time. I write. Even though I wasn't writing at that time. Months later, I started to write again. It doesn't matter. I write.

I am ridiculous and silly and accidentally funny. You can't possibly know this. I held my posture and I thought before I spoke. I weighed every word. I wanted nothing more than for the sky to open up and for snow to fall and to challenge you to a snowball fight. Fort walls, flying powder, and flakes melting down my back. Ice and heat.

Anything other than this formality.

Someday I will learn to snowboard.

I have somedays that I think you would like. Perhaps. I won't pretend to know. But I do know that I don't need, I don't want, five o'clock dinners and Saturday evening dates. I'll eat ice cream with you at 7am after a long night and open Christmas presents two days later on a sunny afternoon. I'll climb into bed with you for a nap mid-afternoon. We'll make brownies at midnight. I like life better this way. I know this because I have built a life, too. At the end of the day, you'll find me curled up with a book, or stacks of research, my own notes scribbled, typed, recorded, in the corner of our library. Writing. Lens caps left in the back pockets of my jeans. I spew updates of friends and legislation and real estate in a single breath, my feet tucked into my own wicked good slippers. Awake but not waiting.

I let go. I let go like I have before and I will again. I have forgotten names and stood an arm's length away without reaching out. "Yes, that is fine," I replied, and I let go. I had lost too much of myself to hold on to you; I could see that more clearly than I could see you. I didn't hate law school as much as, as many times as, I repeated that phrase over and over again. It turns out it doesn't matter. In the best possible way. It turns out I didn't lose any of myself. I was all there the whole time, I had just failed to give the majority of myself a voice. Yet it all held on even when I didn't. As does the pull I feel towards you. Do you feel it too?

I thought, for so long, too long, that I most regretted sitting down across from you in broken pieces. I see now that I sat there whole, even when I saw my reflection as shatter. Even when I couldn't see anything more of myself than that reflection. I know now, from now on, that I most regret everything I didn't say. The times I closed my mouth. The questions I swallowed.

So now I ask. Will you

Meet me on the walk to the subway. Meet me in front of the fridge, the door ajar.

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