Thursday, January 19, 2012
They're just things, right? But oh the things I threw away when you left. Photographs of course, torn to bits, what else to do with them? The dog - eared Snoopy cards of our college days, where you called me pet names and drew hearts around the words...
I gave away my old clothes, it would have been a sin to throw them out, those clothes I wore when I was with you. Seeing them after, though, I was ashamed. The disappointment I used to see from you lingered on the sleeves, hems, settled into the folds, a mild repulsion at the middle aged woman your lover grew to be. Those clothes can't embarrass me now, with them gone it's not as easy to be embarrassed by my old self - complacent, naive, stupid. Glad they're gone, gone, those sad, frumpy things.
I also lugged that big green bin of Christmas lights out for trash. There had to have been enough strands of lights to wrap around our block. They were my favorite kind. The ones with the big glass bulbs that the wind clanked against the house. I put them and all those new extension cords at curbside. I'm happy somebody trash picked them; it would have been such a waste. I bet you don't know what those lights, the tangled mass, had come to symbolize for me. You probably don't even remember that you were putting them up that night when you dissolved, like something from a star-trek episode, into an alien right in front of my all too familiar eyes. There was no warning at all that this was to be the last year you cursed over our Christmas lights. You were so much more than annoyed that night, angrier than usual; this wasn't just a case of not getting the hooks to catch or the extension cords to reach. That night, you were roaring angry, shaking your head, grinding your palms into your forehead, rubbing your eyes on the verge of - what? "They're just Christmas lights", I told you. You took your hand from your face and looked at me with eyes that I had never seen before. You said nothing, but that look told me that it was way more than errant Christmas lights. Five minutes later, my world had imploded. I learned of your other life, your new love. I was breathing, but dead and the Christmas lights were still shining bright. So into the trash they had to go before the next Christmas rolled around.
Know what else I gave away? The stuffed dog that you bought me when we were teens, the one that you said was just temporary until we had a house and yard for a real dog someday. That was a promise you kept. That stuffed dog came with us into our first house, she went with us to the hospital when babies were born and sat on our bed for 28 years. I loved her, even without a nose, because the real dog had chewed it off when she was just a puppy. The real dog is long dead, and the stuffed dog got stuffed into a Good Will bag. I couldn't bear to throw an old friend like that into the trash. But I couldn't look at her without thinking of you.
There is hardly any thing here now that reminds me of you, not even my dear ones. They have so little of you in them, a blessing for me, really. Now I have my books that sing from the shelves. I can hear you laugh over that, and not nicely either, but, go ahead, laugh, it wouldn't cut at all anymore. And just so you know, even if the books don't quite sing, they are inclined to whisper - she lives here, she matters, she does.