Due to the highly Google-able nature of her unique name, this post is listed as simply from K. I think that counts as an open letter without her potential clients reading all of this one day. :)
I’d thought about you, but I wasn’t holding my breath and I wasn’t holding my life. I may have said a prayer or two, asked the universe to let you be ok, maybe slipped in a little does he think about me? does he know I’m here? But I wasn’t holding back my life waiting to see you again. California was calling, not you. I knew where you were, and it wasn’t somewhere I was willing to go. Remember? I washed dished, you dried, she put your daughter to bed. …sometimes things don’t turn out the way we want as you brushed your lips past my neck.
i’ll move away and ignore the letters you write. painstakingly perfect penmanship, words carefully chosen, eloquently expressed. thirteen year-old boys aren’t often good with words. they don’t always say exactly what they’re thinking, mostly because they don’t know what they’re thinking . . . your words will tell me exactly how you feel.
Twenty-one days to go and California was calling. I knew that morning I’d see you. A conscious thought, a feeling right between my ribs. An early visit to the cemetery, my mom and I. It’s been thirty-nine years, the first one gone. A hot, lazy, summer afternoon, mid-week in a quiet restaurant in a small Southern town. I actually watched you walk in, your head down, unrecognizable, and take a seat at the bar. I’m screaming inside where no one else can hear, he isn’t coming. he’s not here. California was calling.
when life is sailing along where i want it to be, you’re going to hold out your hand, and i’m going to reach for someone who isn’t there. late at night, needing water for your radiator so you can get home . . . you don’t live near me. fingers intertwined, laughing, pulling me down the street on your skateboard under the gaze of a dark summer sky, the streetlamp and my mother’s “five more minutes.” one quick kiss in the front seat of your old andy griffth car. a midnight call from a phone booth on the bay, a cancelled fishing trip, dialing my number, talking about nothing, inviting me to dinner. i’ll wash dishes, you’ll dry.
I looked up from my plate and locked eyes with the guy at the bar, and life stopped as slow recognition and an almost imperceptible smile spread across your face. The smile that makes your eyes shine. The smile that says to me 15 years, and there you are. We somehow met in the middle of a crowded restaurant but only two people were there, and you picked me up off my feet and you held me and you whispered in my ear, as your lips graced my neck, sometimes things don’t turn out the way we want.
Sometimes things happen once in a lifetime. Sitting on your bar with a glass of white wine, another hot summer day coming to an end, listening to Kid Rock sing All Summer Long. We both know there are only two days. Small talk, catching up the years, apologies for things I don’t remember, the way you guys treated us back then, all jokes and meanness. It wasn’t that bad. Me so sure I have every memory in place, every detail correct, you were confident, popular, fickle, indifferent. Our hands touch . . . and unexpected tears begin to flow for so many things I didn’t know, and I look out the window to the sun setting on the lake and realize everything I was back then and thought you were is cracking under the weight of what really was. I hold you, let you cry. Its not my turn. I’ll leave on Sunday, drive a mile or so, stop the car and let this out, cry with you for the guy I thought you were, the kid you should have been allowed to be. I’ll cry for the girl who didn’t see it for what it was, wrapped in her own selfish desires, that girl who’s hand kept missing yours. The funny thing is, as you stand in front of me, looking up at my face, your hands on my waist, that smile in your eyes, I apologize for calling you a dog. . . . and you don’t remember.
sometimes things don’t turn out the way we want.
But that doesn’t make the way they were any less precious, and sitting on your porch as the night wrapped itself around what would once again be too soon gone, I felt something I hadn’t felt in years . . . home.
backyard paths as openings through forests
trees green with the summer evening sun setting behind them.
darkness closing in but safety and belonging whisper their touch through the leaves
through the trunks
through the years
through the memories that turn out not to be quite what they seemed.
in the passage of time true feeling resonates
much stronger than the illusion we have come to know
and carried like letters of unfulfilled dreams.
now those pages hold more than words spoken by a boy longing for what he did not have.
they hold his heart, and in them too is mine.