I’ve spent a great deal of time and energy in the endeavor of forgetting. For the past several months, whenever you come into my mind, I try and just breathe through my nose and feel the air against my skin as I exhale and inhale… It is an intentional practice of distracting myself from my thoughts.
Today, while driving down the highway, I thought of you. I tried to just breathe and get through it, not give it weight – not feed into this notion that thinking of you means something bigger than merely a passing thought in my mind. I failed. Because…
I have been having a recurring dream. Says a lot – that I dream of you still so vividly – yet I try my best to wake from these dreams and let them go. Except, this particular one. You. This vision… It has stayed with me, grown, become its own beast entirely hellbent on making me remember – remember a future that has not even happened yet, if ever.
The best way to continue writing I think now is to just write it down as I remember the dream, and then go from there.
You are standing in a room full of people, and a blonde woman comes to talk to you (whom I’ve gleaned in my dreaming state is a representation of your wife). You laugh with her, touch her arm, kiss her nose. You are easy with her, happy. I stand in a doorway just watching, breathless, because I did not anticipate you being at this party.
Just as you’re laughing with her, you turn around and see me standing there in the entryway. You sigh, put your hand on her shoulder and whisper something I can never hear, and then you excuse yourself to a balcony overlooking a forest. I walk in to the house, pretend it does not bother me that you are there, and grasp my husband’s hand as we start to talk to random friends. I keep looking for you to walk back in.
The night goes on and we eat dinner, but you still are not there. Someone introduces me to your wife, and she looks at me like she knows who I am, but she is kind and quiet though she nervously fidgets the entire time she is near me. I still look around for you, even when she is beside me making small talk.
The crowd begins to clear, and my husband tells me we have to go soon – the babysitter is going to get tired and we said we would be home by 11. As he says this, I see you walk into the house again. You walk up to your wife and kiss her on the cheek, and soon she walks out of the house, looking me dead in the eyes as she turns and closes the door.
I tell my husband that I need another ten minutes, there is something I have to do.
I walk out to the balcony, alone. The sky is bright with stars, and the nearby trees sheltering the balcony have crickets loudly singing in their branches. The music from inside the house is audible through the sliding glass door, and I just stand there, my arms resting against the railing, just praying you would realize I am there and come outside.
The door behind me slides slowly open. You walk out, wordless, and come to stand about three feet to my right. I turn my head nonchalantly in your direction and slightly smile. You also rest your arms on the railing and stare up to the sky – as I am looking at you I notice you looked back at me for a moment, and then just as quickly returned your gaze upward to the night sky.
The tension mounts, both of us saying nothing, until I finally clear my throat and say…
“I’ve missed you”.
You sigh and quickly interject, “Christina, I am happy now – I am married, and I’ve moved on. What do you expect me to say?”
“I’m not asking you to do anything crazy, Tim, I just want to talk to you – “
“… and say what?” You interrupt me. “What can we say? What do you need me to say?”
Your voice is frustrated, and sad. Resolved to the truth between us, that time has marched forward, and there is no sense in doing this. Finally, finally – your eyes dead-lock into mine, and I can see you are hurting.
“Tim…” I say, returning the stare. “Tim, I just… I just need to know that you are happy. That you have found what you deserve. I am happy, he is a really great man. We have four children, and things are easy and peaceful.”
You interrupt again, “Does he know about me?”
“Does she?” I reply, quickly.
You laugh, because it is better than throwing the nearby lantern which casts a beautiful gold glow on the wooden deck below it. Throwing something – screaming – anything to get the emotions of the moment out, but instead, you just laugh.
“I lied. I do not want to know that you are happy. I do not want to hear how much you love her, and how things are going so well. That is not why I am standing here with you – but you know that.”
You stop laughing and look once more at me as you move closer, about a foot closer, pretending you’ve put your hand in sap on the wooden railing, wiping your palm against your jeans as an excuse to need to move. “Why are you standing here, Christina?” You say, putting your hands back against the grain of the deck, resting your left hand just a few inches from mine.
“Seriously? I never thought you were going to come, but I thought…” I say, looking up into the darkened cloudless sky at the stars beyond, “When I saw you tonight, Tim – when I saw you I knew that I had to tell you I am sorry.”
“What? You’re sorry. That’s what you needed to tell me? I sent my wife home – I lied and said my buddy needed a sober driver – she was tired, so I told her to go home to sleep. If she knew I was here for you…” You say, looking into my eyes. “If she knew I was here – she knows a little about you, and she does not like it. So, please, Christina, tell me what you’re sorry for so we can get this over with and I can go home to my family.”
“I am sorry that I never came home, Tim.”
I catch you off guard, instantly your walls crumble and your body language shifts from offensive to receptive.
“I am sorry that I left you to grieve and deal with it alone. I am sorry that I was not strong enough to let my love guide me back to you… I wanted every day for several years just to come home – that means, to you – beside you. I needed my love back. My best friend. But I did not know how.”
You lean in closer and your hand grazes the top of my hand as we rest our palms against the wood. I look up again and see that you’ve moved in even closer. I bridge the gap entirely and press myself against your shoulder playfully –
“I am sorry that I let us down. I let you down, and I lied to myself for years saying I could never really go back – but I lost my home. You were my home, and I have spent all these years since just wandering.”
You steady your breathe, reach an arm around my shoulder and pull me into your chest.
I breathe you in. At such long last.