May 20, 2012

Those Ugly Green Couches

How we met. A decade ago, more. I counted myself lucky, even then. The towers fell. We start our stories there. One, three of us braided together, beginning. One beginning on a Tuesday morning, green couches, the television before it was stolen. The smoke could have been billowing out of the antenna, we sat so still those first hours. I perched on top of the cabinet in early December, you both called me Buddha before I took Buddhism. We wiped the finger paint off our hands, walked among snowflakes down roads we didn't know, aced tests we didn't know how to take. We snuck into the bar that night, through the back door, across the stage, and danced until we sweat, walked out the front door, said goodbye to the bouncer. I pulled on the green sweatshirt in the spring night chill, while we waited counting the drunken lacrosse players for you to arrive back. Protest season, it was earthquake weather. It all runs together. We do. One. Two. Three.

You. Two. You wore the green sweatshirt that fall, while we made cotton candy, chased cats out of that room. Six windows, the heat didn't work. That fight we had at one am on Friday night, pushing the beds across the wooden floor, not now, not tonight. She left to sit on the old Victorian couch and you and I. Cried in the middle of the room. The florescent lights glaring, we both hated. And went to bed with clenched teeth. We walked that hill to retrieve you, "he's an ass" and hated him for making you cry and loved him for setting you free. You and you and I. You two. We three. We pulled him off the roof, through the window, he carried you home over wet snowy ground, she sat outside the bathroom door, wouldn't let you close it, and I put you in my bed. The room spun. Over and around and over again. I knew it was time, you believed me, believed in me.

You ended it. I fell hard and fast. Didn't trust him, you and you and sometimes I. But he held my hand. Leukemia, he had you said. I crawled into bed with you and cried. More than once but never enough. Never enough, it was it is sharp regret. Confused, we were, with endings and beginnings. His guitar transferred out of state. On occasion, we forgot how to sing. That lake, so deep. How much we each wanted to throw ourselves into the cold water. Wash away our mistakes, start again. We walked down the snowy sidewalk together, to dinner, every night. Hysterically laughing. Silent company. Each night. Every night. Us. We were.

We ate at home the year after that. Across the kitchen table, across campus. Across the country, across the world. Too often, rare is too often, always too often, silent absence.

The years after only play on fast-forward. Cowboy hats, the nights we stayed at your apartment when you weren't there. Four large pizzas, Sideshow drinks, trips away, the lyrics belting from our lungs, one-match campfires, you asked me but I never told you he kissed me you know, I know you know, months and then the phone rings, soccer goals, that hot sticky morning and we promised. Twice I drove away and had no idea. One and one, one and one, I knew. One and one and one, I didn't.

We see photos now. Uploaded, tagged. A wedding dress. A park bench with a memorial inscription. 28 likes. I wish again, years later, years too late. For beds across the room. Harsh florescent lights. The lake so deep, it can wash it all away.

Those ugly green couches. The boys upstairs stole them, but who threw them out?


  1. This is absolutely beautiful. So feeling. . . it brings tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat. I can feel your loss and your sadness like a melancholy blanket stretched around my shoulders. So stunning, I want to cry (for? with?) you.

    It makes me want to reach out and grab my own college moments and squeeze them tighter between my fingers before they slide out like quicksand. Hold my friends before their fingers are memories.

    1. Thank you, Lela. Yes, yes, hold onto the college moments. They pass by so quickly and it's hard to get them back. Thank you for your sweet comment!