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Yes, even that…

September 10, 2009


It was Labour Day, and we looked splendid. A morning market trip, the fridge and pantry well-stocked, the temptation of afternoon cocktails barely held at bay. We lounged on my balcony and decided we needed an activity or else we were going to give in to bourbon and it was barely noon. First, we composed lists about each other’s awesomeness, all the reasons why (a) we are too good for men who let us down, (b) better off alone than with someone less than perfect, and (c) foolish to worry we might remain that way forever. The lists grew wonky and ridiculous, and after ruling out naps, reading, and napping with books, we tossed my apartment in search of a more strenuous pastime.

We giggled that we’d both selected t-shirts which our bras shone through, and that this just might be our last chance at croquet. Unrelated facts, but facts nonetheless. As we planted wickets in a sloppy course, S. and P. shouted from their balconies that they’d love to play. The sun shone hot and bright, cicadas trilled, we laughed and shook rounds of mint juleps, and shit-talked one another when swings went wild.

“Ok, so, in order to win, you have to go through the centre wicket, off the bit of clover sprouting at the base of the tree, over there to the right, past the pond and the rock with the guy’s face carved into it, back to the middle then through the two wickets and hit the stake. Got it?”

Meanwhile, the airshow rocketed overhead, and my heart felt like a plane crash. I wanted to be carefree and lovely, a girl with a perfect smile and sweet golden tan, a lady looking forward to autumn while clutching summer’s late heat like a withering bouquet. Instead, I was distracted by heartache, sad for something that really, if I am honest, never amounted to much. A thing built bigger by the missing than it stood in real life.

A week later, my chest still feels tight and my breath comes short. I wake up sweaty, making fists and thinking about someone who never once climbed into my bed. I think of this and I think of that, throw off the sheets and wash myself in “angry” before jumping into each day. My throat’s clogged by a log-jam of things I should have said. Instead, I sat primly glancing down my lashes and telling him the ways his leaving made me sad.

We hardly knew each other despite a few months of dating; his arms were crossed against me the whole time, and I did my best to play it smooth and cool. He admits he led me on with complicated words and gestures, efforts to convince himself he was into me when all it took was Date Number One to figure out he liked everything about me except being with me.

Writing this feels a little foolish, too large for what he was in the broad spanse of my life. And, it makes me see how much I miss the idea more than the man. All summer, I felt like barfing from the tension of guessing what might, or might not, be going on between us. I believe there’s a chunk of the story he’s neatly clipped out, but I suppose it doesn’t matter.

But, I miss the hopefulness about where things might go. I miss the last-minute invitations, the chance that one, the other, or both of us would call just to say “hello”. I miss dressing slightly fancier than if I thought no one was looking. I miss his jokes about my star sign and my tiny, tidy home. I miss the fact that his shirts were in a range of colours but clearly the same make and model. And, I miss the slightly bizarre way he smelled, a fragrance I couldn’t place, nor even begin guess. Yes, even that.

Or, so I think now…but…really, I miss the idea. I never knew the man at all, and missing him, it’s simply impossible.

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