Tonight I walked over soggy white roses rotting on asphalt between two large trucks that were unloading for a wedding. As I was trying to get by them, one of the workers said, just find your way through there and motioned for me to walk between the trucks. He rested his hand lightly on my shoulder. It was dark. I couldn’t see anyone’s face. I could just feel the energy of movement and the hand of a stranger. We’re unloading for a wedding, he said. It looks like a wedding died here, I responded as I passed through. Just give it a couple years, he shouted quietly after me.
What’s that on your arm? one of the kids I work with every Thursday asked me. A tattoo of a constellation, I said. Stars. You can’t see the stars here anymore, he said. You used to could see them, but now there’s the pollution. He said it like he was resigned to the idea that he’ll never see stars again. Like it was a fact of life he’d come to accept at age 10. Like he was reciting something he’d just learned in his 5th grade history book about California and about the sky and what it used to be and what it will never be again. He said it like no one anywhere would ever see another star. Like the pollution he’s known all his life that he imagines having begun in some mythical time before he or anyone he knew existed fills every sky in every part of the world he can conceive of.
There was one night in the very beginning. It must have been September. It was dark but not too late. You drove me to the train that carries people from the suburbs to the city. The mountains rode along side us to the west out my passenger window like they always do when we’re heading south. Orion hung over the hogback and Nathaniel Rateliff’s voice was singing there is no fear in love. We parked out of the reach of street lamp light and fooled around. The mix we were listening to was the one I was most proud of. Because you couldn’t give me your heart, you gave me a consolation prize of telling me you liked the music, or that you could like it. You zipped up your pants and I let down my hair and I rode alone through the dark into the heart of the city where I lived six stories above the sidewalk, where I watched busses pass by out of the floor to ceiling windows of my studio apartment. This is what I know of love. That it is hard and fast, that it explodes and that it is never, never what you want it to be. That the narrative you write is your narrative alone.
We were children when we used to sit in the hallway and say those things. It was angst and something we never could have identified as jealousy. Because we were suffering, had suffered for as long as we can remember having been alive. And he didn’t. Or didn’t seem to. And how unfair. And how unreasonable. And it had always been this way and we had always known it and we bonded over this thing we didn’t even understand because we were children and we shouldn’t have known better. And that it ended this way, him alone, him suffering, the depths of which I hope we can never begin to fathom…
Every time I make a decision, I am proven wrong. The narrative rewrites itself over everything I anticipated and planned for and insisted upon. Everything’s closing. We’re losing what grounded us, what connected us, but none of us are losing each other, not yet, except by choice. I am more guilty than anyone. I have made this choice so many times with all of you. I have been wrong. Not always. But almost. It’s because I can’t bear to feel the things not losing any of you makes me feel. And I can’t bear to feel the things losing any of you makes me feel. Really losing you, like we’ve lost so many others.
I never want to not see the stars. I never want to fall in love again with someone who doesn’t know what to do with my heart, so eats it and spits it back out something different. I never want a wedding that dies in the parking lot outside the venue the night before I even say my vows. I never want a beverage to be what gets me in the end. I never want the carbon ink constellation on my skin to be the only thing that reminds me there’s something else out there.
I’m sorry. I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry that nothing is ever enough for me. I’m sorry this happened. I’m sorry there’s nothing to say.