“What Stays” Part 3

I could have been smarter about it. I could have said no and walked away. God knows, you gave me opportunities to do it. But I’m insistent, you say, and anyway I wouldn’t have taken the opportunities even if I knew that in 6 weeks I would be happier. I wouldn’t have taken the opportunity even though I know that in 6 weeks I will be thousands of miles away.

It’s funny, I didn’t even notice you at first. Now I look for your face in the crowds of Carnaval, between the foam and powdered paints. I watch your eyes in the dark of the crowded bus and in the dusty sunlight of your new apartment. And it seems unfair, that I should find you here and now. It seems like a cruel joke that I can take a new language and new passions home with me, that I can take photos and write letters, but what stays is you.

And I promise to come back but there are lots of people, you tell me, who say they will come back. Most of them don’t. And it’s nice to think that one day I will find you in California even though it may never happen. And it’s nice to think that if things don’t work out now one day we will find each other again, here or somewhere inbetween. It helps to think this way, my best friend says, when you begin to realize you have to leave someone behind.

They warned us about the ghosts we leave behind and the ghost we become. I could have been smarter about it. But I wasn’t looking for you. It’s just, here you are and here I am and there I will be.

What I can take with me of you, it’s intangible: talking until early morning, singing the songs the other should know, playing cards and listening to the radio, the way you lightly punch my shoulder when no one is looking. I have never felt this way for someone and maybe never will again, this urgent sort of love, this passion on deadline.

There doesn’t seem to be enough time for two people on this planet. You divide the day  into hours and seconds, waking and moving moments, and it still ends. I’ve tried to turn these weeks into infinite fractions but I find the seatbelt sign alight and earth sweeping itself behind me. I hear the captain speaking and attendants gesturing with their bright-orange oxygen masks in hand. I find myself in the window seat watching city lights fold in on themselves. I know I am leaving you behind.