I’m on my back staring up at her and an uncharacteristic tear falls past the left side of my face. Her expression is one of relief, “You’re back.” My eyes say more than I can with words; I tighten my grip on her hand. The sun is coming through in bunches past her hair, glancing and ricocheting in right angles. She’s aglow and I’m so relieved.
I feel as if my soul has finally returned to its body.
Earlier in the week she had arranged with love the most delicious breakfast: savory biscuits made from scratch, dark red cherries in a bowl, two tall glasses of tart orange juice (my favorite), coffee. I was running eight minutes late though we try not to rush: it’s one of those pacts we’ve made. The audible part of the pact goes something like “Don’t rush when you’re with me,” but the other part is “I love you.”
A lot of our unsaid pacts are the same.
I’ll never forget that Wednesday morning as we sat next to each other and waves of silence between us became still lines of quiet. Up until that moment I’m not sure we’ve ever had real quiet between us. Our channels were so filled before but suddenly, unexpectedly, they were dry and our sensitive ears were full of that deafening nothing.
On Thursday morning I took the length of string she had once used to secure her banana heart and brought it to lunch.
There was a time when it wasn’t uncommon to use a piece of string to guide words that otherwise might falter on the way to their destinations. Shy people carried a little bunch of string in their pockets, but people considered loudmouths had no less need for it, since those used to being overheard by everyone were often at a loss for how to make themselves heard by someone. The physical distance between two people using a string was often small; sometimes the smaller the distance, the greater the need for the string…Sometimes no length of string is long enough to say the thing that needs to be said. In such cases all the string can do, in whatever its form, is conduct a person’s silence.
At its end I attached a heart of my own — red, blown glass, a souvenir from my loneliest trip outside the country. It was one defined by longing fireworks on the beach.
The Beach: I headed the wrong way for too long; my navigator felt then so far from me and only farther as we found ourselves thick in southbound traffic with one hour of driving ahead. For the longest time she sat grasping her legs and my right arm folded helplessly behind the driver-side headrest. What was meant to be an hour in heaven, “Lost in the Dream,” became just track 03, the song entitled “Suffering.” I do actually like the song but in that moment his anguish felt nothing like release.
After thirty minutes the traffic receded and we snaked more rapidly through the deciduous forests of CA-17. In those paces her heart wafted more strongly and I filled my lungs with her uniquely coniferous emanations. Every scent that afternoon floated in uneven patches buffeted by sea drafts; the smells in Charlie’s Hong Kong were so home and sitting close to you I didn’t ever want us to leave.
Fireworks: on Saturday we went to celebrate the 4th with her family. Morning contained measured uncertainty but we were brave in the way lovers need to be, and she intuited the way: to Trader Joe’s, to her grandmother’s house in Foster City, to our heartstrings.
If you’re out there in the cold,
I’ll cover you in moonlight
If you’re a stranger to your soul
I’ll bring you to your birthright
I want the storm inside you awoken now
I want your warm bright eyes
Garrett dropped us off near the waterfront. Shannon then weaved us through the living collage: young adults blasting music from a coachella-branded amp, older folks sitting on picnic blankets, young children and dogs running restless circles.
Legs dangling at the edgewater; a boat that is our namesake; some happy family smiling at us as we pop them a wave. Bright moonlight pulled the tide that night and when the evening was over she knew the way home.
I haven’t written here in a long time and though you tell me I don’t have to, it’s important for the reason we love words: I must not let you do all the navigating. Here is the shore, the solid land, and here am I with you. (145:1:1) (146:14:4) (146:26:4)