I don’t think I understood the marrow of your emails until I started living with someone romantically. On purpose. Shared blankets. Made 2-person pots of coffee.
I didn’t think your brush(es) with infidelity were suspect of a life of monogamous love, but rather a boyish impulse waiting to be realized as an adult. Your marriage is the thing I believed I didn’t understand, but now it’s more that I didn’t understand commitment. Salvation. Someone picking you up at the airport at 1am after a series of delays.
I was 19. Some of the worst things hadn’t yet happened to me. But some of the greatest—one of the greatest, anyway—hadn’t yet, either.
I lied about not having the emails last year when you said you needed them as proof—that the woman you love needed them. To decide for herself. I remember thinking, or wanting to believe, that she sounded like someone I would like. Someone I would admire. But also someone I readily pitied.
If you asked for those emails now, my answer would be different. Kinder, maybe. Yes. The kind of yes akin to letting a stray dog in from out of the rain. I would give you the emails, every last one. I would give you that because I don’t know you like I once hoped to; you might be a creature more worthy of love than my judgment.
You can have every email. Even if you two are past it, if I’m too late and there is no two—if you only print them and use them to line a birdcage. You can have them. You were there. The words belong to you, too.
A friend of mine was waiting for a BART train a few weeks ago when she noticed a man sobbing on a bench at the end of the platform. She walked over to him and asked if he needed any help, and—if he wanted someone to talk to, someone to listen—what was wrong. He told her that the love of his life had left him that morning. What do you say to that? She asked if he wanted company. He said no, and I forget, but I think (imagine?) he thanked her, too. He said he would be something like okay (fine?).
And when their train arrived, he jumped in front of it.
A girl I only know by association wrote some cruel things about me recently. I saw them.
I was angry, but I quit being angry. I wanted to be something else. I imagine (know?) her heart broke over time, like this: when the man who loves me now first went away, weaned her off over many months, and then began loving someone new. (Me.)
But it’s easy for me to say that, to play blissful psychologist, when what I’ve got is more good than bad. Someone called me names. Someone thinks that if I didn’t exist, she would have him back.
How could I stay angry? The logic might be off, but the feeling isn’t; to want something so desperately, so absolutely. I understand that. I don’t pretend to know everything about her—just what I’ve gathered from the repeat calls, the words If only life was different, the way she begs back what’s mine. All I can do is appreciate what I have for as long as I have it.