The following “memoir” was published online elsewhere, only the website has since disappeared. Thus, I resurrect my creative attempt at remembrance here.
I started this letter many times. And many times I’ve ripped the paper from my notebook, crumpled it into a tight ball and tossed it into the wicker waste basket. The last time, the crushed paper ball ricocheted off the mountain of other paper balls and rolled under my bed.
The night you left, that last night where we stood outside my apartment, I told you I loved you. The sight of me had surprised you. You didn’t expect me to throw on my thin blue bathrobe and race down the stairs after you. The night sky was clear. The air was cold. You knew I was naked underneath. I said, “I love you.” You said, “Don’t say that. I might run away to another country.”
But you were leaving for another country. You would be gone for two years, and we had only been dating a few weeks. But I loved you already.
I’ve been writing this letter every night since you left. At first, I just wanted to get the pain out and on paper, hoping that I might at best numb myself. I thought you were perfect; yet, you weren’t at all what I expected or had ever loved before. I had, until you, loved tall, dark, lanky men. Men made of wire, whose hair and eyes were black and unsettling. Men who were artists and slightly insane.
You are nothing like them. Fair skin, fair hair, blue eyes. Thighs like rocks from all your years of long-distance cycling. A chest with soft hair that I love to rub my cheek against. You are made of muscle and sinew, and I disappear in your arms. You are analytical. An engineer. Your sanity is so sharp that I’m almost driven insane.
Except that I love you. And this is the one letter I haven’t yet sent. I’ve written other letters to you. Boring letters about the people we both know, the places we’ve both been, the movies you are missing. I send you news clippings, magazine articles. You send me stories about the water tank you’re building, the village you live in, the bartering you have to do for supplies, the language you barely know. You beg for letters. You are lonely.
You don’t say you love me. And I haven’t said it since that night outside in the cold, dark parking lot. You held me tight then as you kissed me one last time. And then, in that coolly sane way of yours, you turned away. I stood and watched you go and then realized that I was barefoot. Did you ever wonder how long I stood out there? Did you look for me in your rear-view mirror as you drove away?
In your last letter, you wrote that you would come back. Not to me, you didn’t write that you would come back to me. Only that you would come back.
And so I’m trying one last time to write this letter. To say again what I haven’t said in two years. I love you. But as soon as I write these words, the fear comes over me. Will those words drive you away? Should I toss this letter with all the others I’ve never sent, never finished? Should I wait? Should I wait for that moment when I’ve disappeared into your arms, my fingers tangled in the soft hair of your chest, my lips near your ear? And then say, I love you.
Marie A Bailey
Writer, blogger, knitter, cat lover, and introvert.