To the one who called me Gori. Because this doesn’t hurt anymore.
When we were younger and much more in love, we'd often lose ourselves in pointless conversations. I love you, I’d whisper in your ear. I love you more, you’d say. No, I love you more, I’d say, stressing every word. We’d do this again and again, neither of us predicting that who loves who more was not the right question to ask. It’s who’s letting go first?
This isn’t the hardest decision to make. If anything, I think I’m doing both of us a favor. There is a strange need to leave this place as it was when I first got here. I close my eyes and in my mind’s eye, I picture the apartment from three years ago. There is furniture to be moved, walls to be painted and curtains to be changed. The sofa would prove to be challenging. I remember our combined strengths couldn’t life the damn thing. I shook off this thought. That sofa is moving if it kills me, I said to you even though you weren’t around. Everything has to be exactly the way it was. It should be like I was never here at all.
We were artists convinced that our little paintings could somehow change the world. I wanted to do nothing but paint your face, the crook of your elbow, the small of your back, the stray strands of hair that peaked from your boxer shorts. We bought tons and tons of canvasses, locked ourselves in separate worlds so we could be in our respective elements. We shared an immense desire to capture our love in watercolor (yours) and oil-based paint (mine). I chose the kitchen so I could be close to the fridge. You, the den so you could be close to the books.
The easel couldn’t hold you, or at least how I thought of you. It was too small, too frail to capture the strength in your eyes or the calm in your voice. One by one, I took the spices off the cupboard. I unhinged the racks and the hooks that held the pans until I had a free wall to myself. For days, I ate nothing but dumplings, pausing only to shit, smoke or both. In about a week, I had your face on the biggest wall of the house. I remember thinking I had never been as happy, so filled to the brim with contentment.
You often locked yourself in the den. You didn’t want me to see what you came up with. My mind was brewing with anticipation. But then hours turned into days, days into weeks and I saw nothing. One day, I realized the ochre I used to color your cheeks had turned a dirty shade of brown. My mural was fading and I still hadn’t seen a single painting of yours.
While you were sleeping, I crept up the narrow hallway to the den. I had to see it. I had to meet the child you birthed and reared in that room for several months. The lock resisted at first but with a little more effort, it finally gave way. It was pitch dark. Outside, the moon shone like a lover’s secret wish. I groped in the darkness for the switch. Nothing could have prepared me for that moment. I had to look away from the easel that stood lonely in the center of the room. It was empty. All your canvasses were empty. Your brushes sat dusty on top of a pile of books.
In the middle of the canvas, in clumsy red paint, I wrote you my first and only letter. They say expectations are premeditated resentments. I’m sorry I resented too much.
The sofa would prove to be challenging. On the radio, a woman sings me a song. It’ll be just as quiet when I leave as it was when I first got here, she promised. I push the gargantuan set, leaving large, ugly scratches on the wooden floor.
Photo Credit: the empty canvas