By IagoThursday, May 03, 2001
Circe told me to write about break ups. I told her no. I told her that there are so many things to write about, why would I spend my time reliving painful memories. Don't get me started, I told her, And besides, what kind of sadomasochist do you think I am? The kind that we all are, she said. You've fallen in love, and you'll fall in love again, she said. That makes you a masochist. And it's only a matter of a few fights into the relationship that you'll become a sadist.
I told her no. I wanted to write about the love of my life, and I wanted to make it happy. Did it end happy, Circe asked. No relationship ends happy if it ends, I replied. Uh-huh, she said, then go ahead and try to make it happy.
And so this last week, as I finished packing my boxes before I leave this weekend for the States, I went slowly over an old box of photos and letters that I never bothered to throw out. It was one of the last boxes I was going to pack for storage, and there was a reason I was putting it off for the last. It was full of things: papers, pictures, souvenirs, a little green book of poetry – so stuffed with memories that it couldn't shut properly. After I went through it and tried to unsuccessfully put everything back in, I realized it was a metaphor for closure.
Damn that Circe for being right. Damn Circe for getting me started. She made me remember the Love of My Life:
In the history of my life, she was the Pearl Harbor and the invention of the wheel.
After six years I still could never take my eyes off her. Few things could do that. The sky is one of them. She and I would get drunk on Steely Dan and darkness. "Did you know that Steely Dan was named after a dildo?" she said. She smiled crooked, like a careful cat. The days she let me love her were the only days I never looked at anyone else. "I want for nothing," I'd tell her. Steely Dan's Hey Nineteen would fade out, the disk would change, and Gershwin's winds would come in, and she'd kiss me, and cymbals would crash, then drums, then drums.
"Everyday is like a holiday with you," she'd tell me. We'd declare holidays for any reason whatsoever - because it was Thursday, or because she'd gotten a bonus, or because it was hot outside, or because we deserved it damn it. We'd hide like children under the blankets, and I'd be the back spoon when she'd call her secretary to say she wouldn't be coming in she was feeling ill, and I'd smell sugar behind her ear and nuzzle her neck. She'd try not to giggle, and it felt like we were skipping school.
Picture this, a cello in my bed. In the morning we'd awaken, she'd sit up, raise her arms crossed above her head and stretch, her back long to me, her hair long down her back, the white sheets fallen away from her like Christmas wrapper from an expensive jewelry store. Beyond her, through the floor to ceiling windows, the city soared with the rising sun, steel buildings tall in the distance, and the blue sky, and she, stretching, long as the skyscrapers, framed by the view of the morning emerging. A cello in my bed. That was the music I'd wake up to.
In the beginning it was difficult to say I love you. There is no such commitment as those three words. So I never said it. I mean, I never spoke them aloud, not while she could hear. Sometimes when we'd talk on the phone and after she'd hang up, I'd tell her; or sometimes when she was fast asleep and snoring gently I'd tell her. I told her often, even if she didn't know it. I guess I couldn't help myself from feeling it, so I'd say it without her knowing. One time after making love, she lay on top of me. "Heavy?" she asked quietly, which I heard wrong, and responded to what she said, earnestly, with my heart overflowing. "I love you too!" I'd said. How she laughed at catching me! Later on, Heavy was what we'd say when we wanted to express our love. Quite fitting, I think. Towards the end, we couldn't help but express our love. I love you with all of my heart, I'd say. And I'd never meant it more in my life.
She set the standard to which every other woman in my life was measured. They never measured up.
Contentedness sitting on the rug having breakfast on the coffee table while watching telly with the love of your life. Sure, there's the passion of the nuclear fusion of two people, and there's the happiness of pastimes shared, and the excitement of discovery or rediscovery. But to be content is where it's truly at. It's like a cup of hot chocolate. With marshmallows. Yeah.
I'd miss her even while I was with her. The enormity of her absence was like a pin prick through my eye. Her leaving me dashed me on the rocks like so much scotch. I drowned my sorrows in my sorrows. That's how I feel, until now. That's why I sound like a bad romance novel.
I spoke "Don't go," like a mantra, varying my delivery like it would make a difference – trying to be witty and dashing, trying to be stern and strong, trying to gentle and earnest. She was like a combination lock that wouldn't open. Does Fabio ever have this problem?
It's been years, I think. Seems that way. "I want for nothing," I'd tell her, and I meant it. Now, I want for nothing but her.
The tragedy of break ups is hinged on a single definitive point, the moment that presents itself, and echoes in your head while you sit in darkness and wonder what happened, knowing full well what happened but wondering how you could have let it happen. In the darkness you try to figure out how you can fix it, but some things can never be fixed. And that knowledge is sharp and cold as mornings alone.
There is no greater motivation for humanity's fantasies of time machines as love lost. Regret is the worst thing to have, but sometimes it is undeniable. What if I took a deep breath and kept my mouth shut what if I communicated more what if I controlled my temper what if I listened what if I lowered my pride what if I told her how I feel what if what if what if. My heart's worn out with what ifs. These are my ghosts.
I had it all one time, and then I don't know what happened.
When she left I grew old.
There's no such thing as a good break up.