A new night in London, my flat tries to speak to me in creaks of the floorboard and the open window sounds of Notting Hill existing below me on the streets. I can understand it well enough, you might think me crazy, trying to talk my way through this night, the brisk air blowing into me while I sit on this couch and think of you.
I stood under the lamppost when you came to me. I saw your tears, felt your hug like the months we have been away found a home in your fingernails as you dug into my sweater. And maybe I held you for a few breaths. Or maybe the minutes swirled around us, all the black cabs and London cars went silent for a time, to witness our coming together, maybe it would make other people cry, a moment like this, it could make anyone cry, it could make me cry, thinking of it, the precious hour holding on to your shoulders and our short ride to the pharmacy to get the medication your body needed was never long enough, trying to hold on to all the seconds, my minute catching arms never wanting to let go.
Most people here talk of sunshine. They need it, with all the clouds and overcast days, they really need it, the sunshine that to me never warms my body quite like a Sunday morning waking with you in our old apartment bed. Apologetically, a bit sentimentally, I could relive our lamppost embrace a hundred million times over and never be satisfied. And why the sorry? Why this remorse? Because I screwed up. I did. It hurts to say. Is there a better word than screwed up? I play out my mistakes with the rising sun and sleep with them in these single bedsheets meant for two. My daily penance. I don’t wear it so well.
In this flat, where the television light plays flicker with me, where the empty cupboards and squeaky clean shower seem painstakingly new, I sit and wonder what could have been if you only stayed a few days more. I would pay for a few days more. Pay for them in English pounds and never think of the American price.
Gently, you always go gently. A line I wrote once. I was talking about you. Did you know that? Do you read my open journal and know you have inspired such honest words? Or have I lost you in letters much like I have lost you in life? Have I written of your hair right? Do you talk like I say you talk? Or do you see the day-to-day agony in my writing and feel sorry that I brought it on myself?
So gradually this night falls around me. I can hear happiness on the street below. Voices in love, or footsteps in love, the love that floats around for others to inhale is a mockingbird to me that never repeats the words I want to hear. A bit too emotional of me, I know, but who really cares, who could ever care the way I do now? My selfishness on this night melodramatically shivers, I could be an actor the way I script these overly sensitive thoughts, maybe a good-looking guy would get the part I was always meant to play, he could smoke cigarettes better than me, could lean on this London window sill and blow the smoke out more perfectly than me, might watch that smoke fly up into the air and think how great that he is playing a pretty role with a pretty girl. Is that confusing? I don’t mean it to be…but sometimes I try to hide my own feelings in these clumsily crafted sentences.
Outside this window sill is a long row of cars parked neatly. How great would it be if life were that way? I could just park in a nice spot and not worry about getting a ticket. Park my life car and lock it up and could rest easy knowing it would not be broken in to. A cab driver just passed below…how silly…doesn’t he know this is a dead-end street? Maybe he is running up the meter on a tourist like me. Maybe he told them oops, my mistake, your money will pay for my mistake. And wouldn’t that be nice? If money could cover up all the wrongs in life. Just pay all the dead ends in change, the wallet of life thankful all that heavy change was spent on something, anything. Because change tends to pile up, it seems worthless at times, like who pays for things in change?
And who writes sentences with periods and semi-colons and grammatically correct syntax when the best thing to do is just spill words out as they come along? That seems best, spill out all the words and emotions I have kept deep in a jumble of non-comprehensible jargon only I can understand. You might understand the finer pieces. Maybe you would even get the bigger picture, like I do, all the nights I spend with jigsaw pieces, trying to form them into a nice portrait free of serrated edges.
One more time, for memory’s sake, I write of you, into the wretched night I write of you and open this beer can so that I can feel a bit more like a man while I write these melancholy words. The beer won’t put hair on my chest, I think it will, you might like it if I were more manly, had all the right words and less of the funny tears, I would go back to the night we were robbed and would have traded places with you as the gunman took you upstairs, that’s a big regret in my life, watching him lead you away when I could have told him where the room was that had all the things he wanted to steal. Do you resent me for that? When I laid there on the floor with those zip ties binding my wrists, like a gutted pig, that was a low point in my life, if I ripped free of them and took out the other robber with the very real gun would that have made the situation more heroic? Instead, I just sat there, wishing for a pair of scissors, holding my breath and counting the seconds you were gone, heavy seconds, heavier than any seconds I have ever experienced, and when you came back down, and were laid next to me with the same zip ties locking you tight, I saw the fear in your eyes, no man ever wants to see that look, but I saw it, and it haunts me, to this day it’s that ghost that never goes away, it watches me sleep and I pretend it’s not there, but it’s always there, always.
I don’t mean to remember these things. I should try to forget them. But I should never try to forget you. Nonsensical. Forgetting you. Never an option. But the night has gone long. My eyes have gone tired. So goodnight, you. Goodnight, it sounds so nice saying that to you, I’m yelling it out of this open window, like you might hear it across the park, in the apartment and bed that warm you well, goodnight from my lonely flat to you, goodnight, goodnight, goodnight, I whisper with love…