4/9/15 Three Days Ago

Do you love me–really?

or are we both afraid to be alone?

 

Three days ago I thought I knew you.

Now when you call I don’t know what to say.

 

After work today, you called to tell me something

weird. Your old co-workers from LA were

in your restaurant. It was unlikely,

but my mind was blank.

 

All I said was, “huh?”

 

Then we talked about nothing until you 

said,

“I’m going to concentrate on walking.”

I’m going to concentrate on walking

What does that mean?

 

Three days ago we told each other

we loved one another.

 

When we hung up today we both said,

“bye.”

because, I think, saying, “I miss you.” or

“I love you.” would taste stale in my mouth.

 

Because for the last two day you have

not said it but when I said it.

 

Three days ago you said it so often,

so much. and when I said it back I meant

every word every time and I think you did

also.

 

Now when I say it you say it without a

smile. or without looking at me.

 

And when you do look at me, I see none

of that excitment I once saw in those

eyes–only fear–or worry–or

a distracted gaze.

 

Three days ago you told me you

had a lot to figure out. You told me

you had so much to do–so little time.

I said if you needed to be along then

you should be alone.

 

You said I was right.

 

Three days ago you said you wanted me

to stay the whole week.

Now I wonder if you want me to stay another

day. And when you said you’d be house

sitting for some time I wondered, for a

moment, if you’d be inviting me. Then that moment

stretched into silence and I understood that

you wouldn’t and I wasn’t.

 

See, it comes back to such little time.

It comes back to that single “bye.”

It’s the time we have spent when everything

has been perfect.

But like you said three days ago–

“It feels like the honeymoon is over.”

And now I feel as though I’m waiting for

you

to make up your mind.

2/14/15

I sit on the bed of the small room. The bed is just a futon mattress set on plywood set on plastic wood crates I’d stolen from behind a grocery store when I was in college. The room is so small there is only a thin space between the bed and the wall. Further up the wall are three wooden shelves supported by upsidedown L brackets. On the shelves are books that smell like when I was a kid (glue and nerdom), books that smell like my father (musty wisdom), and books that smell like my ex-girlfriend (minty shampoo and sex). On the walls are abstract drawings my friend Kyle and I did a long time ago when we were drunk. Also on the wall is a banner of Gondor my ex-girlfriend gave me when we were in love and thought we were it together.

In front of me is the open door and my ex-girlfriend. The door leads into the entry where we hang our jackets and kick off our shoes. Inside my  ex-girlfriend is a bunch of hurt and hopes and want.

I look up at her with a sad, giddy, coldness. My heart still leaps when I see her and when I was hugging her just moments ago. But I know it can’t last, or it wasn’t meant to, or I don’t want it to continue. And I know how to make sure there aren’t any mistakes made that would lead to us getting back together.

“So,” I say. And she looks at me, her eyes are expectant and ready and wanting me to say what she wants me to say and not what I feel like I must say. “So, I got you some things, some brussel sprouts and eggs and Dave’s Killer Bread. There’s also so homemade kombucha in the fridge.”

“Thanks,” she says. She is wearing a white, translucent blouse and she’s never been one for bras. This is the first hint I have that we are probably not on the same page.

“So I’m going to stay at Aaron’s tonight,” I tell her. “We’re going to a poetry slam in about an hour and then I’m going to go stay at his place.”

“But Alex,” she says. “I thought we could talk and maybe watch a movie tonight.”

“We’re breaking up. This is what a breakup is. I’m going to delete you from my Facebook, I just can’t always be looking at what you’re doing. And I’m going to spend the night at Aaron’s place. You can grab your stuff and by the time I get back tomorrow you can have gone.”

Outside the sun is dipping somewhere below the trees and soon will be behind the far distant Olympics. It is a summer night of a grasshopper symphony and back by the choir of frogs that have made the swamp in the ravine their home. Even inside I can hear it.

Rachel sits next to me. Maybe too close for people who were strangers, but not too close for people who, just weeks ago, were lovers. Our shoulders touch. Mine is taller than hers.

“I know we’re breaking up,” she says. “But never thought that meant going cold turkey.”

“I think that’s best,” I say.

She closes her eyes and crinkles up her face as though it’s made of paper. “I hate this,” she says.

“Me too,” I say.