Af­ter Au­tumn

ne me quitte pas

Hello Mr. Magazine - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - Text & Pho­tog­ra­phy by JUAN RAMIREZ

“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.

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