Throwing Rice

I went straight to the wedding.  Put my suit at the top of my suitcase, let it disappear at Terminal 2 at LAX and appear again at JFK Terminal 3.  I took the red eye.  I changed in the airport bathroom.  Took a cab to the church in Connecticut.  Checked myself in the driver’s rear view mirror a couple of times. My pants were wrinkled.  I lost a button on my shirt.

I didn’t see Kieran until after the ceremony.  I saw his father, but didn’t say hi. Kieran nodded when he saw me.  Stuck out his hand.  Shook mine.  I felt the cool of his ring against my finger when he did.  I nodded back.  Said congratulations.  Again, nodding.  Holly hadn’t wanted me there.  Kieran had almost consented.  Then I told him I was moving back to New York. Then I told him everything.  The next day, he called.  Said an invite was in the mail but, for everyone’s sake, requested I lay low. Last January, I was supposed to be the Best Man.

Of course Paige was there.  She was a bridesmaid.

I left New York for exactly thirteen months.  Took an apartment near the promenade in Santa Monica.  Didn’t date.  Didn’t talk to anyone, really.  Got in touch with a realtor in Brooklyn who sold my place with all of the furniture, the pots and pans.  Asked him to donate the clothes and books to charity.  Toss everything else, send me one box.  He made a very nice commission on the sale.  The minute the box with all the legal documents arrived, I opened it, took out the key sitting at the bottom, the key to the safe deposit box, walked to the edge of the pier, and dropped it off the edge.

A while passed before she even caught my eye.  She turned away quickly.  Didn’t look alarmed.  She’d been warned.  Went back to dancing, but I kept seeing her throw glances in my direction, like she couldn’t believe I was still real.  For her sake, I pretended not to notice.  There must have been 200 people there, but I never lost sight of her.

I was a wreck coming back to New York.  I had nothing here.  Made a habit of buying a new life every time I switched home base.  Things are just things.  People are different.  I kept looking to see if she was holding anyone’s hand, looking at anyone the way she once looked at me.  Nothing, really.  In LA, I’d written her lots of letters.  Nothing that I really even intended to send.  I mean, honestly, what can you say?  One I really did mean to send.  It was just a postcard with a picture of the pier on it.  I wrote, “I’m sorry,” and put a stamp on it.  Put it in my jacket pocket and walked around with it for a few hours.  Then a few days.  It’s still there, out now the edges are torn an the postage probably isn’t even enough any more.

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