She stopped me as we were walking along the river. ‘It’s freezing, come on!’ Moving my body backwards with the ease of a dancer leading the Waltz, she propped me against the stonewall and kissed me. It’s in those instances that you forget—that it all becomes about the movements of the kiss, the colliding magnetics of two sets of lips, the fluid melody of dancing tongues, the moment when you forget there are two people involved, that we have jobs, names, titles, responsibilities. If I could hang in that first kiss, when my mind was untainted by the dangerous logic of her being, then I think things would have wound up a bit differently. If only being a sweet person was enough, if only the hope of love was really enough.
Losing you felt like a public event, the sort of breakup that takes place on a crowded train, when you’re trying to be subtle but screaming over the grating metal track makes that an impossible feat. The embarrassment of leaving the house with a coffee stain on the rear of your trousers, or getting news of your cat’s death or your mother’s kidney cancer making an unwelcome return. And you’re stuck on a train and everyone gets the news with you, everyone has seen the brown spot on your back-end. They can hear the pain in your tight throaty tone, the suffocating sensation of holding back years of reserved tears. When I abandoned you, because that’s what it felt like I did, I had to sit on the 131 to Tooting Broadway with clinched vocal chords and a hollow hole for a stomach. Losing you has been like trying to drink through a straw with a hole in it that I can’t seem to cover up.
She wasn’t, by definition, the intellectual type (whatever that means), but she said the most encouragingly extraordinary things about me: ‘I enjoy the way you write, the words plant themselves in my mind, sometimes making a bed in there.’ Why couldn’t I love her like that, how unashamed she was with her feelings and the risks she took with them—with me.