whatever that was
Making peace with a prewritten ending.
The books you gave me are still in my bedroom. Markus Zusak’s I Am the Messenger. Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture. Neil Gaiman’s
Fragile Things. My best friend offered to take them out of my hands, but they fill the gaps in my shelf perfectly. They get to stay.
The Tupperwares you used to send me homemade cookies in are stacked neatly in my pantry. Your mom’s probably wondering where they went. Hindsight is slapping my wrist. I should have known there was a reason you didn’t introduce me to her, or anybody. Or why we never went out during the day. Or why you tiptoed around the word “us.”
The roses you gave me on our first date are brown and brittle now. I was cleaning my room one day and found them under my bed. “What the hell is that?” asked my sister, not looking up from her laptop. “Office Christmas party,” I lied, as the aftertaste of that first kiss came rushing back. Remember that? You cutting me off mid-sentence? It was so long ago, it’s like it never happened. You, the girl everybody had a crush on, and me, the girl whose name everybody mispronounced. Who’d have thought?
I still listen to recordings of you reading me poetry. You liked the beatniks—ginsberg, Kerouac, Burroughs—your voice was like a knife running along their lines to slice them open, methodically, surgically. “We are great writers on the same dreadful type- writer,” you began. “In my dreams you walk dripping from a sea-journey in tears to the door of my cottage...”
You live in my favorite city in the world, but where I have never been. Last year, a box filled with Broadway merchandise came in the mail. I remember bursting into tears in front of the fedex guy. “You are ridiculous and I’m sending these back!” I said over the phone. “Happy graduation, sweetheart,” you replied.
All that’s left of you are things, Lesley. But only one of us got to start over. While you stroke a brush across a clean Manhattan canvas, I wrap Manila around me like a blanket I’ve had for years. I’ve outgrown it, so the chill comes through and keeps me from falling asleep. I wonder if your bed is warm.
There’s only a finite amount of time you get to talk about getting your heart broken before your friends begin to tune you out. There’s only so much you can say about somebody before you catch yourself reprising old words. That’s your signal to get on with it. “I wish we had more pages to write this story on. I still have paragraphs left in me for you,” were the last words you said before you left. But I woke up one morning and realized I no longer wanted to write about you. How do you catch up to somebody who’s already three chapters ahead? so here’s where I make peace with our prewritten ending. When we see each other again, I hope we’re friendly and familiar. But I also hope enough time has passed that we can embrace and then, in different directions, go on walking.
Part 4 of 4.