(that month’s mask, picked up in the psychological warehouse that stored other people’s discarded personalities.)
Though he had of course never told me his capacity for love had not been tapped, that it had remained curled within him, that it had been reabsorbed by his body and turned into belly, that the unused love had collapsed his arches and grayed his hair, that it had thickened his voice and swollen his knuckles, turned him into a quipster, a sigher, a snuffler at the movies, a tag-along and a drag-behind,
More than once, more than a thousand times, I had longed for my father to honor the unreasonable impulses of his love-soaked heart and break out into some high-flung adventure–to chase after the waitress whose walk he studied with such instinctual longing, to write a letter to Ava Gardner whose films he’d see three, four, sometimes five times over, to live the life of popular romance with picnics near the waterfall and long spinning embraces.
These were the faces who beamed at me over the shine of birthday candles; these were the scuffed shoes and massive knees lined beneath our dining room table where I crawled in a mild social panic hoping to retrieve a dropped Brussels sprout. These were the voices and the aromatic pipe tobacco in the back seat of the old car during rides to the country; these were the hands that grabbed for the check at the pizzeria; these were the names on the bottom of astoundingly corny graduation cards.
I had known another world. It is impossible to give it a name. There are words like enchantment, words like bliss, but they didn’t say it, they were stupid words. No words really said it. There was nothing to say about it except that I had known it, it had been mine, and it still was. It was the one real thing, more real than the world.
I looked at that moon as I had so many nights before, for prisoners love the moon,
It was like passing one’s lover on the street and he is with his wife and you are with your children–that frightening and that pleasurable. Secrets offer the solace of privacy and possibility. They are the x in your equation, the compassionate unknown.
experienced all the ecstasy and sorrow of memory.
But then the memory was gone, replaced by the effort of trying to remember.
with the bewildered caution of strangers who can break each other’s hearts.
It was worse than mourning because grief was corrupted by hope; I could not even turn my love into memory.
“That’s because you’re not in love with me and so you still can remind yourself there’s a difference between you and me. If you were in love with me, if you felt something you’d just assume I did, too.”
“This is what all anger is. Being denied. Not being held. Not being satisfied. This is war war and mayhem and I should be in a rage. I’m so sick of myself. I’m still waiting for life to begin.”
We are blind to the future. We can barely hold on to our strange versions of the past. We see only a little of what is directly before us. We know almost nothing. The only way we can stand it is not to care. I care and I can’t stand it.
“You don’t know me,” Jade said, finally. “You just remember me.”
“No. You can’t call it remembering. You remember some that’s past, over, but if you want to call it remembering, then I remember you the way you remember how to walk if you’re bedridden.”