Saturday, June 23, 2007

Absence (Los Angeles, 2007)

This was thefirstbirthdayhedidn'tcallme. He has called every birthday for ten years since we split up. Sometimes I didn't answer, but usually I did. He called me from the airport to say goodbye the first time he left. I was home alone just curled into a ball on the floor. For nights I dreamed of glass walls separating us, saw red crab claws tearing at flesh, woke to screams.

When he called me on our first anniversary date after we had separated, we both cried. We said goodbye too many times. For three years longer he would come back sometimes, and every time we’d eat rice and then we’d end up in each other’s arms and it’d be so comfortable and terrible to hold on like that. I still think howhowhow could he do that, but also with time understand why. And I had a chance to experience another life which I feared but which turned out to make me fearless and fulfilled.

He called a month before my birthday to say he would like to see me again just to see what my face looks like now. That we’d be shocked to see how each other looked after seven years. We talk like siblings, except certain turns of his voice still make me shudder, and he still tries to hear me say how much I miss him. I can feel how special I still am to him, as well as how little our relationship really mattered even though once we thought it did. We talk about growing older, his white hairs too numerous to pluck any more, how bald he's gotten, how important it is to be able to have good conversation with a partner. I don’t know this man at all, and I know him so well, even as we both grow and change with different people and in different latitudes. In parallel, with sundered lives, we grow old together.

I know the answer to the question of howlongwillittaketogetoverthis.

It was a good decision, I tell him.

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