All My Bags Are Packed
Seven months ago I sat outside of 'our' house sobbing on the steering wheel. I knew I would walk in and your things would be gone. I stayed there for an hour. When I opened the door, your things were still there. I was so angry because I had felt like I had grieved over your absence, but your fixed gear and Bodhisstva charcoal drawings were propped against the door. There was the canti sketch of me with bound breasts and stuffed boxers. The grass-green pastel background of the gas-mask portrait gleamed at me from the dining room.
You moved a mile away. I had the house, the salary, the dogs. I was angry again because even though I wanted you to leave, I felt like you left me with everything. All the reminders. You took everything that was yours and left anything that was ours and I still had to look at everything...every...day...
We can argue over who was more toxic and self-destructive at the time.
We can argue because I felt too comfortable with you and wore sweat pants once out to dinner.
That I wasn't spontaneous enough and prefered the bookshelf to most people.
You left pieces everywhere. It took me four months to wash your scent out of my hair, for the linens to smell like me again, I didn't recognize my own scent.
You always said you would marry me, but I assured you of a few things:
1) It was illegal almost everywhere in the country we reside to marry.
2) I didn't believe in marriage.
3) If I ever happened to change my mind about believing in marriage, I would have had to know the person I would marry for ten years - ample time to see how they come and go out of my life, how stable they are, if they would be a good partner.
I still believe in all of those things.
I'm going to Oregon, you'll be in Afghanistan. I can't say it's easy for me to think of you wearing fatigues. I always have this image in my head of you as a cartoon character with shaggy hair and black-framed glasses, holding an easel under your arm, wearing ripped jeans with paint and pastel smears all over them, dirty charcoal fingers that smell like patchouli and eucalyptus.
Today I wanted to sing, "Leavin on a jet plane..." but I really don't know when you're coming back again and each word is like a hairline fracture in my throat when I try to sing it.
I forgive you - for everything, and myself. If you have taught me anything it is to keep my heart open, but also to protect myself. When you leave - be gently fierce, always. And I will be here writing poems about peace and walking the dogs when it monsoons.
I know this to be true - we hold on with everything we have when we let go. We had to let go in order to really be holding on. I know you wouldn't like it if I raised a glass of wine to toast, so I'll open a ginger ale and raise the bottle -
to the possibility of memory being sanctuary when we face the darkest sides of ourselves and the world we live in.
I was remembering the toxic truths of loving each other in order to build a safe house for myself. Once I got inside, your photos were everywhere and light shining on them, your smile took up an entire wall and your eyes were the ceiling. I don't think it ever ceased to amaze either of us that what we traveled so far from ourselves to find was always inside to begin with.
The moment will always be temporary and an open heart will always be receptive of that and let go to hold on.