These are not suitcases. They are my stories. I carry them with me, yes, and at times – at 2ams and altitudes – my shoulders slump with their heft. The weight of past mistakes and all of the leaving. I spin the world backward, these times. Searching with my finger across the whirring, blurring globe for home. Are you nostalgic? she asked me once, and I said yes, as I understand it. I think writers, necessarily retrieve. I meant to say that memory matters. The past matters. But those words belong to another, so I left the thought behind.
I do – at times – have to turn myself around.
But these are not suitcases. I do not come with burdens, see. I arrive lush with autobiography. Stories spilling, swimming. I had a farm in Africa. I stood trembling at the door. There was a moment, just before. I sobbed and smiled. Here. And here. And here. I thought-. He was-. She was-. They were-. I was-. He sang in my ear. I shouldn’t have. I did. I came twice as he-. I saw the most-. I travelled to-. It made me feel. This is the … happiest I’ve ever been. Yes! I remember everything.
I remember every thing. I carry it all, swinging, dancing. Hands out, even to my sorrows. I never wanted a calm waters life. Though I waded through his once or twice. Just to see what it is to be light. And I found it heavier than I’d ever imagined, to carry no one thing at all.
Here, let me open for you now. These are not suitcases. They are my stories …
(Remember: Don’t believe a word I say. Just the way I say it)
♥ HAPPY NEW YEAR, dear readers! Here’s to all the stories in 2018 … ♥
never could resist a landscape metaphor …
You know what else is funny? How the ache is so strong, you think it will never go away, that something set so deep couldn’t possibly fade. Then later comes along. At some point – later – you no longer feel what you used to feel. And when you think about what you came through, you can’t remember just when that ache went away. It didn’t feel gradual; it certainly didn’t get easier one specific day or time. Two months in, you were just as likely to be sobbing on a Friday night as you were when your heart was first split open. Still. At some point it wasn’t there anymore. At some unidentifiable moment, it all slid off you. You were no longer sad. It … he .. was gone. What was the formula? What was the exact equation of distance and time to take you where he wasn’t?
I need to know this. Because I’ve carried this bright, new sadness across the ocean with me. I’ve put the distance between us, once again. So how long before time meets that distance? When? How long before I stop feeling like there are strings playing under my skin, a mournful dirge that pulls me down?
Back when it ended, I listened to that music on repeat, it was my constant refrain.
Am I really back there now?
~ El, What We Have Left
A realisation: I don’t want to write about you anymore.
(and just like that, the fever broke)
I used to try so hard to find the right words to reach you, Mack. Always searching out the perfect metaphor. So many love letters typed out, all of the things I couldn’t say directly. My mouth used to fill up with everything unspoken, sometimes there were so many words crowding my tongue that the only way not to choke was to spit them out, to siphon them through my fingers, and down through the computer keys toward you.
What did you do with all of those midnight emails I sent you? Did you print them out, did you return to them when you came close to forgetting? Did you ever slide my confessions between the pages of your favourite book, keeping my words with other words, too? Did you ever do that, Mack – to keep me close to you?
M, your Valentine.
My sign-off, always. When I wrote out all of the things I couldn’t say. When I tried to resurrect streets and temples for you. Trying so hard to make it all rise up around you after you went back to that other world. Words as breadcrumbs, leading you back to the bars and parks, and hotel rooms that were our altars. Those places of worship and exaltation, covered in cigarette burns and red velvet, and so much better in the dark.
The myth of us, Mack. I laid it out for you as if it were historical fact.
You said once – You write beautiful stories, Maggie.
History is written by the victors, I replied, too softly for you to hear.
~ Maggie Valentine , Loved
… and then comes the hangover …
The other woman, too many birthdays, opportunities closing one after the other around me. I have to admit that none of these would have been enough to keep me away. The desire to be good would not have won out – I would have come back to that twice next month. Eventually. In the end, we were always going to survive a metaphor.
It was only ever going to be reality. In the end.
The last time I ever saw you – turns out, I lied to us both. This is what I have learned since then, what I now know better: the body has been much maligned by the idea that words are more honest than a beating heart. My body always knew better. Every confession it ever made, those trembling revelations in your arms – that was the most honest I’ve ever been.
Ignore my words, Mack. I was afraid of sticks and stones back then. But I once wrote the truth across your skin, and I need to believe you can feel it now. I need to believe that even when we re-write the story, our bodies remember. That leap of faith made when hands reach across the widest of chasms.
And how sometimes, Mack, we nearly make it.
We can dress up in someone else’s clothes, we can recite lines fashioned from other mouths, and decorate our promises with beads and silk, but these offerings only last until the candles burn down. Love is what the body remembers.
(Oh, how I loved you)
Now the words are memories too. Embellished, redacted, turned about. Which is more real? Knowing what to say, or how to say it? Was the story better then, or now? All I know is it never really ends … #Loved
I’ve been here. Shoulders squared, bag slung. Do you know how many times I’ve walked away.
Often, when I wanted to stay.
I left you, once. When I wanted to stay. I’ll leave anyone or anything, don’t you know? It won’t ever be that I love you more. Than Sunday mornings and 4pms. Than sinking in and settling down.
The familiar can only go so far.
After leaving so much more than you. I can always, always walk away.