Ten Years: A Decade of Love

September 17th, 2016 § 0 comments

It’s strange.

I would die alone; yet it’s the others who would live my death.

– Simone De Beauvoir

On a forgotten notecard tacked to my art board are the hastily written words from sometime early this spring. Jon, this year has been about love. Types of love, types of men. Strangely, it’s already September, and I have taken down the notecard. The weather this year is more manic than usual, summer one day and fall the next, but it’s fitting for a rocky year of struggle, rejection and realization. The loneliness is ever-present, and death feels cruel again for the first time in almost a decade: maybe even grief is cyclical. Tonight, I’m listening to Nick Cave’s new album Skeleton Tree, of which I’m sure you’d approve, drinking a glass or two of rosé, of which I’m sure you wouldn’t, and thinking of you.

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A friend of mine asked recently how many of these missives I must write, how many anniversaries will pass before I am finished. I’ve never considered the idea of an expiration date, nor have I ever expected to feel a sense of completion. Will I ever be done? My posts are a bit like my life, unfinished and involuntary, and yet somehow I’m better off for having written them. While you may well be the man I loved more honestly than anyone else, my eulogies aren’t exactly about love. They are an assessment, a way of considering my life within the context of your death. Every year has a theme, my theme, and yet every theme is related to you. We’ve lived your death now for a decade.

Living is a sad business, Jon, as I’m sure you always suspected, and loving is worse. In a decade I’ve culled together experiences and memories that make me ache and lurch, leaving me longing for a simpler time when reality felt promising and straightforward. I miss you tremendously, and I have the vague sensation that you’d understand my loneliness. In a decade I’ve never found a solace to your absence, as I was perhaps expecting, nor any real meaning in loss. It effects and changes us, but continues to feel random and unexpected. My cherished memories of you feel well-worn, yet they lack the nostalgic patina of childhood photographs or fond memories. We are meant to renew our relationships daily, always hoping to change the stories that often pollute our best intentions, and with you I cannot.

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If this year has indeed been about love, you certainly were my first. On that same notecard I jotted down a few moments I still remember. Your telling me that I was a 32-year-old woman in the body of a 12-year-old girl, or my mom teasing me one summer night while night swimming, saying “Lissy likes Jon.” I recall how enamored you were as a teenager with the beautiful Ivy, the sister of a friend, while I was so enamored with you. I remember the night that time stood still, the last conversation we had before I moved to Chicago, and the first email you sent after I’d left. I find you in heartache, and when desperation seizes I see your gaze. I remember your relationships and watching your crushes from afar, all with the smug assurance that they would come to nothing. I wonder if you did the same.

How long will I continue to write? If grief has no conclusion, will loss ever offer a lesson? This year, it has been particularly painful remembering. I know I’m not alone in the realization that I’d give anything to sit and listen, half-content and half-bored, to you play the guitar. If you were alive we’d be lounging somewhere outside, late at night, under the desert sky or in the backyard of a bar, discussing the last ten years. You’d take my side, though against what I have no idea, and we’d end up laughing and feeling slightly better about the world afterward. Instead, I’m left searching and floundering, looking for answers or perhaps just effects. We would have been friends, I think, not lovers, but I love you more than any lover, and I’ll continue to write as long as I have to live a life without you.

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