ne me quitte pas
“I’ll come back another day for the rest,” I said, piling up the boxes in the corner of the room.
You offered to help me with my 40-pound luggage. I pretended I could manage, declining your help until you took the suitcase from my hand, without asking a second time. You lifted the old red bag and walked downstairs with some difficulty, trying to avoid hitting the walls of the narrow staircase.
I stopped by a kiosk in Rue de Belleville to buy gum and a bottle of water, feeling your gaze on my back. From the many Asian restaurants on our street, I spotted our favorite Thai place and counted the number of goldfish in the window tank. I tried to catch every last detail of the area, creating a mental image of the working class Parisian neighborhood where we’d survived that cruel winter in 2009, along with some of my most manic episodes. A mental image as glowing as the one from the day I moved into your studio.
It was July 14th – I remember because it was Bastille Day. I brought six big boxes and two suitcases with me, which I got upstairs with the help of some friends. You’d left unexpectedly for Martinique with work, so I had the apartment to myself. That night, while having some drinks with my friends, I felt strangely lonely and wrote you a message. I am home. It feels odd without you.
It was in the narrow constraints of that studio I wrote some of my best poems. In the warm spring, I used to sit by the window, writing with the view of the chestnut trees in the garden. You would sleep or watch television and sometimes we’d get into an argument because the TV was so loud I couldn't focus. You didn't like wearing your hearing aid, so you couldn’t tell how noisy it was. You hated it, but I always reminded you to wear it – because of the way you looked. It gave you an innocent look that I found charming, I think.
Sometimes, when we argued or I just wanted to be alone, I would leave and buy some beers from the supermarket, hoping that my favorite spot in the park was free, under the magnolia tree. A few hours later I would see you appear in the distance, walking towards me. You’d offer me a flower you had plucked from somewhere and smile, putting your head on my lap.