The only thing that I still know

Not too long ago, I returned home, greeted by familiar smells and not-so familiar sights. Now and then, when the air wasn’t thick with the sound of the crowd and swarm of honking cars, music would play, taking me to a quiet table near the house of my youth, sitting next to you 25 too-long years ago.

We drove to the bay to see the fireworks. It left like a stop-and-start pilgrimage to a place where the sea used to break, making me think of how men have changed the geography of that part of the world. And now they have a place where they can paint the sky like gods. And I thought, why can’t they instead find a way to stop time, or turn it back some. So I can be with you again and my world can once again feel right.

I miss you. I dialed your number a few times, the only number I knew. Another man’s voice answered the call. Four years is a long time, an eternity when you think of how life can change in an instant. I drove to your usual haunts, only to find new structures in their place, and it felt like slowly and irrevocably, every bit of our history was being erased.

I don’t know where you are. Or even if you still are. But I want you to know I’m here. My love for you still is. And I still sing my songs and write my poems for you, imagining you will maybe one day read my words out loud and tell someone—anyone—that I was writing about us.



All the love that this heart can stand

A haunting recording of John Mayer playing “Gravity” plays through my tinny speakers as I sit in front of this screen. I have a blurred photo of you on my desktop, stolen by our friend in the middle of a poker game. You look terribly pixelated, thanks to the dim lighting and the unsteady hand of someone trying to steal a shot of you, knowing how much you hate being photographed.

But it’s still you. Your likeness. For once, I feel like I can watch you, memorize your features. My screen is smudged in the lower right corner, where your photo is displayed. It’s almost embarrassing to admit, but yes, I sometimes half-consciously run my fingers over that precious square inch of smooth glass, as if to caress your face, your cheek, that soft part of your neck just above the collar. I know it’s lame, but what can I do? I miss being with you.