Lo, way back when I was young-ish, I had a lover of the ‘show up at 3 in the morning’ kind. He worked in the service industry, so he’d end his shift, have a few drinks, and then cab over, half drunk, to knock gently on my door. We’d stand there, he and I, for a moment or two upon his arrival, not embracing, really, but more leaning on one another. I’d rest my head on his shoulder, swaying slightly. He’d put one hand on my hip and breathe me in. Eventually, he’d say “Hey, you.”, and I’d take him by the hand and take him to bed.

He was, during a very bleak time, my only source of delight.

We parted ways after about a year because he was never going to be any kind of main course, but what I learned from loving him, and letting him love me *despite* knowing he was never going to truly arrive in my life, was that its okay to eat the breadsticks while you’re waiting for the main course.

“Breadsticks” feels minimizing, like a bit of a throwaway – just a thing to tide you over – and that doesn’t do justice to the impact that relationship had on me. Through his eyes, I saw myself as beautiful, desirable, intelligent, worthy…

He was a stop on my way to other things, and I was a stop on his way to other things, but still. It’s 17 or so years later, and he wrote to me a couple of days ago to say “Whenever 9/11 comes around, I think of you. I think of getting up that morning and kissing you goodbye and heading home to get ready for work.”

I remember, too.

***

I was pretty much full of angst back then. I was waiting for someone to arrive, to sweep me off my feet, to claim me and make me their family. This guy was definitely not cut out for that, so I’m grateful he cut me loose, but still…the tears I shed! The unrequited love and longing! It’s the stuff poetry is made of.

He has in his possession a little book I filled with poems for him before I finally got fed up with his shenanigans (and oh, there were shenanigans). It was one of those relationships you let go of with laughter and tears co-mingling. It wasn’t a traumatic ending, not a thing that ended with a bang. It ended with our two heads together, him breathing me in, saying good bye with love and love and love, and then an exchange of gifts to remember one another by. The little volume of poems was hand written, dedicated to him, and entitled “Coveting Memory”.

Once in a while, to this day, he takes it out, reads it, caresses the cover, and puts it away again. He told me, so I know.

I’m something he can think about when he is old. He’s something I can think about when I am old. We get to have that.

That’s not tragic.

***

I completely underestimated my impact on him at the time. I thought I was just a plaything, his version of ‘breadsticks’. A thing to tide him over. But I wasn’t. I was a love of his. Not the last love, but a love – a love he still remembers with that soft look that so rarely passes over his face.

I matter a great deal to him. I occupy his thoughts. I am a memory, nailed to the wall of his mind.

That’s not tragic.

***

The Push
For J

There is a moment
when I birth,
when all the forces
of heaven and earth
move to move
the life in me,

when all the pressure
it takes to make diamonds
all the pain it takes
to create
bears down
on this one body
and something new slips free.

Love is on the tip of
the tongue that takes you,
right there
on the tip.

I slip it between my teeth
and try to bite it back
but oh, god
the urge!

Fear is the silent womb
this morning
fear of what birthing
these words will mean
but like birthing
it’s gone too far now
and I must, I must, oh god

I must move with
heaven and earth,
must move to move
these words
from my mouth
to your ears,

ready or not.

©2001

xo
Effy

Today’s Nudge: Reminisce.

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