There is a wall in my house that tells a story. If you press your ear against it and silence your heart, you’ll hear it whispering well through the night.The landlord said we couldn’t hang anything on the walls but that didn’t stop us. We were young. We were hasty. We had just moved into our first apartment. Nothing was going to stop us. For weeks, we snuck in frame after frame after frame. One day, we set the alarm for 3AM. With sleep in our eyes, we pounded in hooks and nails to hold our memories. There were cracks in the concrete from a few misguided strikes of the hammer. There were bits of wall scattered on the ground. There was hell to reckon with, that was for sure. But that wouldn’t be for a while. At that moment, we could just revel at the wall that was just us in the house that was just ours. I held your hand as we went back to bed. And while we were sleeping, my hands traveled through the sheets to find yours. Hands clasped, I knew that we were finally home.
I told the landlord you were leaving. He didn’t ask much questions. He just signed the gate pass and that was it. That last week was tense. We were ghosts wandering around the life we built, watching as it all crumbled down. I pretended not to notice how you were slowly packing your things. Records were divided, books were packed in balikbayan boxes, shirts were folded and packed into old suitcases. It would be a full week before the moving trucks would come and take you away from here, from the home we built together. But we both know you’d been gone long before that last box was packed, ported, and shipped away.I combed through thousands of photos – some of me, some of you, there was even one of you when you were a little boy. I had nine spaces for photos so I had to choose wisely. I rushed to the photo shop one Saturday while you were out. I held the envelope close to my chest as I walked home. I took down each frame from the wall and carefully slipped in our pictures. When I was finished, I stepped back to look at my handiwork. This must be it. This is how you make a life. My heart was full.
Our photos together were the first to go. I practically ripped them out of the frames. After that, I ripped out anything that had your face in it, anything that would remind me of you. I stood in the middle of the living room, a circus of torn photos and memories on my feet, in a fevered rush to erase all that you left behind. For days, I tried to walk past that wall without looking. And when that charade became too difficult to maintain, I took my photos off too. Suddenly, there were just empty frames, haphazardly put back together. When I couldn’t handle that either, I took down each frame and pulled out each nail from the wall. There were holes where the hooks were. I took a bit of putty and with the craftsmanship of a five-year-old who has just discovered play doh, or the craftsmanship of a thirty-year-old who had just gotten his heart broken, I sealed the hole shut. I sealed all the holes shut.As soon as I heard your footsteps, I put on some speed. I turned out all the lights. I hid behind the sofa. I stifled my breath as I tried desperately to catch it. You opened the door, confused by all the darkness. Your fingers groped in the darkness for the switch. Flick. I wished I had a camera. I hoped I had thought of capturing the moment you saw our wall for the first time. Because right at that moment, I saw all the messes of the day drain away. I saw all the bad things that keep you up at night give you temporary respite. There was nothing on your face at that moment but pure joy, pure love. You looked around. Heavy breathing. You were looking for me. I jumped up from my hiding place. Surprise! I yelled and you ran towards me, dropped your things on the floor, and held me like it had been years since you last felt love.
In the morning, you can’t see it. The light tricks you that way. But at night if you draw the curtains and look real closely, you can see the putty on the wall. I run my hands through them, the same way you’d run your fingers over an old scar. I see us meeting. I see us falling in love. I see us moving in together. I see the home we made. I see us fighting. That was tough. I see us falling apart. And finally, I see the life we were going to live together – the future we thought we could count on – like an overexposing photograph, I see it all fade away.And I wrote all this today because for the first time in months, I have come to realize that I’m not angry anymore. I don’t blame you anymore. You were just a boy who loved me for as long as he could. I did my best to hold on to you. I thought you’d be safe under my wing but people change their minds, lovers change their hearts, and fickle is the future we rely on. We shared a lot of good years together, scenes like broken shards of colored glass I will forever cherish in my heart. My hands still crawl through sheets at night but they now find a different hand, a different heart, a different home. My love, I have found another home.
♫: Rachael Yamagata | Over (2016)