There was a tiki torch in the garden in the house I grew up in. I remember looking at it thinking it looked strange beside the various palms and leaves, the birds of paradise. But my mother brought it home from one of her trips abroad and for sentimental reasons (screw aesthetics), it stayed there until we packed up that house and moved to the city.
And it’s funny how I remember that torch now as I lie in bed, my mind haplessly trying to wrap around fleeting memories of you. It’s been three weeks since I last saw you and I find that as each day passes, it takes more and more effort to remember what you look like. I remember the mole on your right cheek. I remember the lines around your mouth when you smile. I remember how your left eyebrow looked a little crooked. But these are all just parts of you, captured in a tight shot. Try as I might, it seems my heart won’t let my mind zoom out.
There are things that I struggle to remember but then there are things that I struggle to forget. These are the pictures I recall with painful clarity. The way your fingers fit perfectly into the spaces between mine. The feel of your hand clasped around mine. The way your breath tickles when you whisper in my ear. The sound of your voice as you were saying goodbye.
“I need time,” you said. Well, time is all I have these days. Time spent wondering what could have been or what I did wrong. Time spent worrying about how you are and who you’re with. Time spent scribbling fevered thoughts into this notebook. Time spent wishing you were still here with me.
And then there’s the time I spend trying to think of anything but you – the mundane things at work, the smiling lady at the deli where I got lunch, the tiki torch from my childhood. They’re all escape routes from your memory but these days, it’s not so easy. For I remember the messages you sent me while I was at work. How that made the time pass by more quickly. I remember the conversations we had when we ate at the deli, how we talked through closing time and they had to make us leave. I think of the way my love for you was like that heavy torch that stood alien in our garden. The fire burns brightly, fiercely through the night.
But whatever, right? Because you need time. And time is all I have.
Time spent wishing we never met. Time spent hoping I would get the old me back – the me I was before I met you. Time spent thinking about the future we’d planned but would never have. I think of our children, of the paintings, of the books we were going to write. I take all of this time and I put it in a box. I take the torch in my mother’s garden, put out the fire, and lay it down. In its place, I light a feeble candle. Some part of me hopes that when the last of the flame dies out, our love will die out too.
I learned that of all the things in life, it’s hope that’s most cruel. Now that you’re gone, it’s the one dagger in my chest I can’t seem to live without.
♫: Ingrid Michaelson | Slow The Rain (2005)
Original Posts: empake, dying / time
HBDSM! Happy birthday to the coolest barrio teacher in the howaywurrl, Mots of Teacher's Pwet. I’m sorry about our failed collaboration. I promise to find more time for it in the summer! :p
Check it out! This post has a twin. I am literally living the concept of Maps right now and so it means so much to see Mots' brilliance breathe new life into it with his art.