Home (a love letter)

Home. You think home is the view of water and the three steps down, and those plans to be approved by council. It’s the fence of white little spears and the manicured lawn that doesn’t stain your knees, and you’ll pass it all on one day, this version of home, the same way you inherited it from your dad and his dad before him. You are natives of this land and home to you is a fortress that is at risk from natural disasters like me. It could ignite on a scorching day, or the earth could shift and break apart one 3am to reveal all the dirt hidden under that carefully managed lawn. (I crawled on my belly through that grass once, just to get to you. I know that domesticity can be a minefield).

Because home for me? Well darling I’ve crossed the globe, I’ve taken trips with your ghost in my suitcase for years, and every time I cross borders, or enter new oceans, or lie beneath another man I am reminded that there is no place like you. Your body is my hearth, and my homecoming is announced in the knock-knocking at your hotel door and how I get to launch in to your arms on the other side. Home is the broken bone I can still feel under your skin, the grooves of life changing course felt under my fingers. Home is your funny, flat front teeth and my hands under your shirt, and the way your eyes go to my shoulders before you slip my straps down. Home is one headphone each and the way you drop your bottom lip when you kiss me. Home is your nervous laugh and your slight tremble on the surface cause the seismic waves are deep, deep down. Home is the following each other from room to room, and that place I fit under your arm when you are sleeping and I am wide awake.

Home is this, and you. You are the only home I’ve ever wanted. I click my heels every day and the truth is this:

You are the point I was always oriented toward, and the place I am always trying to get back to. There is no place like you.

It’s not the flags she has planted

If he is honest there has been a relief in letting her go. It is surprising in fact just how quickly he has gotten over her. Her absence has not been felt as a loss so much as a return to an equilibrium he missed desperately when she was around. All of that veering left and right, the constant stain of regret on his fingers, where everything he touched was somehow marred by her presence – this perpetual state of agitation mercifully disappeared when she did.

He has his life back. It is a life he loves, his friends, his family, everything he’s worked so hard for. He did the right thing, he told her from the start didn’t he, that he was happy and fulfilled and here is the proof that he wasn’t lying. There is no doubt that life has always been better without her.

And if there are times just before sleep when an uneasy feeling settles over him, when he wonders if this is all he will ever have, well it’s just habit, isn’t it. It’s just a little trick of the mind as she weaves in to these suspended moments before sleep, when the last thing he sees in the drifting is her eyes, and how they flash at him. It’s nothing more than a glitch in his system. A temporary tangle of his nerves. She was never permanent after-all, there is no emotional connection he needs to sever. Just a glitch and even good men have glitches from time to time.

As for his friend, the only one who knows – well it’s better that they haven’t seen each other in a while. That singular confession might have been misunderstood. It might have seemed that he was unhappy, that he didn’t love his wife the way he was supposed to. When it all tumbled out he might have suggested that he loved the girl – and he didn’t love the girl. He has never loved the girl. He doesn’t want to have to explain, he doesn’t want to protest too much and so he leaves it all unsaid and it isn’t his problem if there is suddenly nothing left to say.

And so what if her book is still on his bedside table, the one she dog-eared with her little guideposts. The book that raised his wife’s eyebrows and how he said oh you know the books you pick up at airports because it’s foreign, this book. It suggests something unfamiliar and dangerous, and if that still gives him a thrill well he’s only human. He doesn’t remove those dog-ears because they’re good pages, irrespective. It isn’t her. It’s not the flags she has planted. It is just a good book. Irrespective.

He can’t help it either, if others bring her up from time to time. Like his mate who knew her first, his email and that photo last week. The message innocuous – look what she’s up to these days – cause yeah, she was always her own little planet, and she is still pulling people in to her orbit. But he’s far enough away now, he has his own centre of gravity that has kept him on the ground, and if he did stare at that picture just a little too long it was only curiosity. It wasn’t longing for the careless and constant touch. It wasn’t a desire to be pulled back in. He had never, ever liked the dizziness.

If he is honest with himself, and it isn’t that time before sleep when her eyes flash and he wonders if this is all he will ever have, without her.

Henry and June at body, remember

Fight or Flight (I want to run to you)

I started running when we met. In the heart of winter I started to run, when the sun hung out with the moon, and the black gave way to blue reluctantly. I started running when you blazed in to my life and altered my direction, and in those early mornings as my feet marked time on the gravel I never ever knew if I was running toward you – or trying to run away.

Some days I would be chest out, pounding the ground proud, having my own little revival – I can do this, look at me go – I can be strong alone.

Other days, head down, I would feel the soft sadness like a new morning rain, and I would be running through it and in it, so slow as to almost stand still.

And one morning a few years in I just wanted to stop. Right there on the river I wanted to let my knees buckle from the weight of my decisions, and I wanted to lie down amongst the rotting leaves and yellowed grass and put my cheek against the dirt. The desire was sudden and complete. I was tired of running and when every road that I’d taken kept leading to my regret I had nothing left. And I nearly did it on that early morning but for one last defence that rose as suddenly as the desire. I understood the choice:

If you do this you will never get up again. You will lay down but the world will keep going, it will not adjust its pace just because you have stopped. People will run over the top of you, they have so many places to go that eventually they will not even notice you are under their feet. The day will give way to a  week, a month, a year, and you will not have moved from this spot. Everything around you will be in constant motion. And you will be left behind. If you do this you will never get up again.

I kept going. I got up the next morning and I ran with a little more certainty, and the next morning, and the next. I kept going. Chest out, pounding the ground proud, I kept going. Even in the soft sadness, I kept going.

(I did want to run to you my love)

(Whitney Houston was my soundtrack on so many of those mornings, she fought back right when I felt like sinking under and every time I heard “I look to you” I felt just a little bit less alone with my struggles. I will carry her with me always)

Definitions

You call it a dalliance. You think I will like the word. The way you have to curl your tongue against your teeth to make the sound, the way you can slide right off the ending. You think this word will please me, that its poetry will distract me from the question I have asked you.

But it creates the smallest of fissures in my heart, this word. This pretty, empty word and what it really means:

I have asked you if you understand that this is an affair, and in your answer you have accidently and honestly defined our relationship. This is recreation, this is the sport you play on Thursday nights. I am a diversion from the terrible importance of your everyday life and you are content with this definition.

I have been too light across your skin to leave the impression I desire. You think only of how this breaks you out of your life. You never consider that in finding you, I might finally break in to my own.

I do not miss you more

I do not miss you more on Valentine’s Day. In the profusion of reds and intact hearts you are no more absent than you ever were.

(I do not miss you in the language of calendars and clocks – in the birthdays and the Christmas mornings and the ten-nine-eights of New Years Eve)

I miss you when it rains. That is all, and when.

(I do not miss you more than when it rains)

The fatal flaw

The thing about death – in fact the thing about life – is that we know this is finite, we know it all ends, but we are floored just the same because we don’t know how to believe it. We are all living with the fatal flaw of optimism, we’re all considering our maybe next times and our second chances, our opportunities to change things. We plot and plan – redemption, revenge, renewal – because we never truly accept that something can be lost to us. We tell ourselves that we live in a world of infinite possibility, that time heals everything, that tomorrow is another day. We waste so much time believing in the benign nature of time itself, in the idea that it will somehow expand to contain everything we want of this world if we just keep going. If we never, ever give up.

But when someone you love dies, that which you once considered endless is suddenly contained. The ending has been written, and though you can travel backward through all of what came before, you will one day arrive at the point where the beginning resides, where there is nothing new to discover. Here is where the real loss lies. Because once you have exhausted your memories you begin to miss all of the things you never knew. There will be no new words to decipher, no new clumsy mistakes to ponder, no new arguments on which to stake your silence. No new white-flag smiles, and no new resolutions. No new landscape awaits your exploration. You will have mapped your love.

The truth is all we really have is right here, right now. Your enduring faith in tomorrow means you never have both feet planted in today. I cannot come with you anymore.

(RIP Whitney – you sang it like I felt it x)