When I was five, I asked my parents how often people marry their preschool crush.
And then you said goodbye and said the only words that would ever be enough for me. “Good night,” you said, you’d tried so many others. And then you hung up the phone, parting with the only end that would ever satisfy me.
There’s something so soothing about “good night,” something so comforting about acknowledgement of another day come and ended, another day closed and opened with well wishes. Someone else acknowledging that you live and breathe and now, sleep. Someone else doing it in sync with you. As you shut your eyes, your mind, your March 4th, you accept what’s past in the day behind you, let it rest and simmer, and prepare to take in the new.
Like the urge to announce your arrival after a long flight, it feels wrong to part ways with the day, without a human connection, without a hint or warning of any change in waking state.
It’s a beautiful end to a simple day. It’s my favorite end to any day. It’s my favorite words English has to offer. “Good night,” he wished me, and I had to accept, it is enough.
You didn’t know I loved those words. You didn’t know how beautiful they are to me, the way you said them with gravitas and meaning. I replay them forever. There’s days I interpret that gravitas to mean we’re meant to be together, there’s days I interpret that gravitas to mean we lived a perfect romantic tragedy. There’s such beauty in both.
I don’t eat pickles anymore. I’m paying for cable in my apartment and even Spotify without the ads. I’m playing around with squeezing from the bottom of the toothpaste tube.
Well, I do eat pickles on occasions. Just not at home. Just not at home often. But I am washing my retainer more often. And I do regret not traveling with you when you had that long break. And I never told you this, but I conceded a long time ago to learning to live with a dog to the best of my abilities. I think you’d have to pick up the poop though.
And I miss your belly button lint. I’ll try to wake up earlier, wake up before you now and again and go to sleep earlier, too. I want to try.
Sometimes I just want you to know, I’m thinking of you in the kindest of ways; I want you to feel the embrace of my thoughts, squeezing goodwill into you; I picture a slight lift in your mentality, from unknown, to just a little bit better than the moment before
I’ll be happy one day, with someone who’s not you
I’ll be happy that day, without wishing it was you
I won’t know it that day, when a drop of sadness hits you
But know that once I was sad I would be happy one day with someone who’s not you.
Sitting on the airport toilet, it occurred to me that the duty free Godiva display could count towards my remaining meal budget.
Next to the Godiva table, I discovered a Sees chocolate display, the spot where you must have bought them for me. It’s a good thing you made me open the box to try some that Sunday before you left because after you left, for the last time, that Thursday, I threw them away with everything else.
I find myself following in your footsteps, three months later, tracing your path through the Jet Blue terminal in San Francisco where you, wrapping up a week of contemplation, must have thought to yourself, “I guess I can expense a final gift for Melissa, something sweet before I end it all.”
I guess it’s really not that coincidental that I find myself following in your footsteps. You did solidify my loyalty for the airline; you did conjure extra intrigue with the city; you did make me want this job so badly, so I’d have an acceptable excuse to text you, a memo like: “Hey, if I’m moving across the country, do you want to know?” You’d be surprised: maybe you’d expected me to move a few hours down the coast but nothing this drastic. You’d be jolted, filled with a moment of nostalgic sadness, but you’d take a deep breath and suggest a final coffee before I leave. At the coffee, maybe you’d suggest we do it again if I’m ever in town again. And that’d be it for us.