I only tell bad stories, as if I need to prove how rightly you’ve gone. But I forget to say: we were good to each other.
We hiked a glacier and chomped pizza and harvested raspberries from the yard to make pancakes on a white night.
We had a picnic in March with oreo pie and blindfolds turned fireman’s carry.
You made me a turkey sandwich and watch back to the future on the overstuffed velvet green couch. I always sprayed your sweatshirt with lovespell before I gave it back.
You grabbed trail mix and a canoe and my hand to pull me up the palisades, and we made out and paddled out before night fell.
The lost boy did a handstand on the pontoon when he found out. You made me soup with too little broth and a free bay leaf and a fire and s’mores in the borrowed yard.
I got to hike while you threw yourself off of mountains. You drove and you cooked and you played me songs. You brought me a different way because I hadn’t seen this canyon yet and asked to see my drawings from the day.
We drove around all night, idling in that car, solving everything we couldn’t change. We weren’t afraid.
I told you I was not a legend and you laughed and we must’ve written twenty emails that day and even when I left you stayed close.
You chopped wood and I read in the hammock. I kept us on the trail and you tried to carve our initials in the tree. You always made a mess in the kitchen and brought me a plate with a kiss by the fire.
How did I forget you? You and I never stopped talking. You built my furniture and carried my books and smiled through family dinners and let me feel as confident and resourceful as I wanted to.
I felt safe. I felt adventurous. I felt seen. I felt creative. I felt supported. I felt adored. I felt appreciated.
It wasn’t all bad. I have been good at this. I have had decades of love. That look in your eye when you can’t believe you get to be with me. I wonder what stories you tell about me. I wonder what stories you don’t tell.
I’m sorry I’ve been unfair. I’ve needed to protect and prove myself – do people ask you why you’re single? I’ve made you villains. It’s so much easier. I don’t know how to explain the joy, enjoyment: I don’t know how to offer my moments without seeming wistful. I don’t know how to offer gratitude without it appearing as longing.
It wasn’t all good. It’s good that you’re gone. You have other wives now. I am no one’s wife. We thought about it – but you chose her. And I am waiting to choose. But these years have not been a waste, like so many think.
I’ve made you into a great joke: I’ve dated more than one drug dealer. He was lazy. He was angry. He was absent. He was unwilling.
What I don’t say: I fell in love in Switzerland. We explored an abandoned mine in the mountains. He always stood up when I left the table. He would touch me on the elbow when we walked. We knew just how to sit on his parents’ couch so I could sleep with my head on his chest. He let me wear his letter jacket. He made great guacamole and told me I smelled like “outside.” He showed me off to his friends. He took me into a weird bookstore and let me stay for hours. He always sent emails to me in France and Montreal – when I needed them most. He said I love you, he wrote I love you, he showed I love you. He introduced me to his family. His mom made coffee cake and he sang to me from the piano. He hitchhiked to town and bought a clean shirt. He read my pieces and talked to me about them. He watched that scary movie in the middle of the day and got up to open the curtains wider. He came to see me speak. He came to my friends’ parties. He stayed close and said hi first when I was shy. He asked me to help him understand consent better. He asked me to make those cookies again. He sent me letters. He taught me to scull and pulled me out of the weeds every time. He made the bed. He was excited about my art. He told his friends they should come to me for somatic therapy. He asked me for somatic therapy. He told me I picked good songs for my voice. He asked what I was reading and listened when I told him. We took the train to dance together. We went to bed early. We stayed up late.
I am not incomplete. I am not missing out. I am not unhappy. I am not waiting. I don’t have, and don’t need, an answer to Why are you single?
There are all kinds of love in this world but never the same love twice. – F Scott Fitzgerald
I have been well loved and will be again. I am overwhelmed by the love that you have given to me.