Tag Archives: relationships

The Flight

“Again, this is sweet, but insane,” Ian says as he rubs his eyes and shifts in the passenger seat. “My company pays for every cab ride I even think about taking, let alone take.”

“This is different,” I say. “Seeing you off out of New York is different.”

“You’re going to see me in eight days.”

“Please just let it be sweet, okay?”

He nods.

I start thinking about what I will miss most about Connecticut, and New York, and living here, and I wonder if what Ian will miss most are the same things. I wonder, as I drive down 95, a particularly ugly stretch of 95 where everything is very gray, where the palette is unwelcoming and dark even in July and the bark on the trees is a harsh brown, what I will fall in love with in London, and if I will even fall in love. I wonder if Ian thinks about these things, and I realize I don’t know.

“What’re you going to do with the house all to yourself for a week?”

“Dance on the tabletop. Invite the high school football team to party. Masturbate.”

“That’s my girl,” he says.

We don’t talk for a long while. Finally, he reaches in to the radio dial and turns up NPR to stave off the silence.

“Shit. This skyline,” he says as soon as we hit the Triboro Bridge. I don’t say anything back. “We’re going to have a real life over there, Rachel. Everything is going to be how it’s supposed to be.”

“This wasn’t real life?” I say, keeping my hands fixed on the wheel, not looking at him. I know he’s turned towards me.

“You and I both know this was no way to live. Any of it,” he says. “Me not being the best husband. And you…”

“And me what, Ian?”

“We’ve just been happier, is all,” he says. “We’ve both been happier without external forces chipping away at us, and we need to move on with our lives. This is us moving on with our lives. We’re doing the right thing.”

I start seeing signs for JFK as we cruise along the Van Wyck, not a speck of traffic in our way today.

“Virgin Atlantic,” he says calmly, pointing towards one of the big sign boards for the terminals. “If you didn’t agree with me in some capacity, you wouldn’t be doing this. But you are.”

Ian reaches down into his lap to adjust the buckle on his belt, even though he doesn’t really do anything with it, just sort of plays with it.

“You tossed and turned a lot last night in your sleep,” I say.

“This is all a big fucking deal, Rachel.”

I stare down into my lap for a second longer than I should.

Vows

We lie next to each other in bed and both stare up at the ceiling. My thumb keeps running over my naked ring finger. I am counting each of my breaths. I start counting each of Ian’s.

This is how we spend Friday night. Counting cracks on the ceiling. There is conversation, words with little meaning dribbling out in short bursts, but no movement. I finally turn towards him, and he mirrors me, our foreheads touching. We both close our eyes, and stay like that for a moment.

 “Let’s sleep,” he says, turning over towards the nightstand and flicking off the only remaining light in the room. I flip over so violently that I cause vibrations in the springs of the mattress. I don’t expect Ian to touch me, but he pulls me into him. And he holds me like the world is going to end.

***

I wake up early. The clock says eight, and Ian is still clutching me tight. I can’t remember the last time we stayed wrapped  into each other like this. I’m not tired, but the thought of leaving his arms is more terrible than anything, so I stay. He is asleep, but not fully, so I flip back towards him, willing, once again, for him. But he just rests his forehead onto mine, and inhales for more sleep.

I can’t be only one thing to him, whatever he wants me to be in this moment, so I sit up in bed and lean forward. He puts his hand on my back as he lays there, running his fingers over each notch of my spine, and as I shift to get up, he reaches out, and pulls me back into him with all of his might. And he will not let me go. We sleep another hour.

When I wake, I lie flat on my back, my ear near Ian’s lips. I get up to leave again, but I’m pulled back into bed with the same rubber band reflex against his chest.

At noon, when I wake back up for the final time, his forehead is tucked in against my shoulder, his breath spreading across my back. I reach my hand behind and find his hair, run my fingers through a thick patch on the back of his head, and he readjusts so his chin is resting in my neck.

 “I’m getting up,” I say, and lift myself off the sheets, starting to slide my legs down the side of the bed.

Ian has to catch my body on the way down, but he scoops me up, and doesn’t let me leave. And that’s when I start crying.

 “You won’t even kiss me,” I say, facing out, not looking at him.

 “It’s not you,” he says. “I just need to take this slow again.”

“I’m your wife, Ian,” I hiss. I’m trying to hard to stop the tears, pushing away any sign that they were ever there with the heel of my hand. “This is Kindergarten.”

I turn back so I’m staring back up at the ceiling, but he takes my hands and pulls me on top of him so I’m straddling him. I put my palms flat on his chest.

“What?” I say.

He puts his hands on my hips and, without a word, starts rocking me back and forth on him.

“What are you doing?” I say. “Ian.”

“Just stop talking,” he says, pulling my chemise up over my head.

Checkmate

The thing about it all is that we were children. That’s the thing about everything that happens during those years—you grow up, and then you look back, and everything shifts in this way that you can’t avoid. When you are children, your sense of blame is non-existent, and then you are an adult, and all of a sudden, it pops up, from out of nowhere, this magical thing, and you’ve got a player on the chess board that’s the most dynamic mover of them all, and nothing is so innocent any longer. What actually happened? What did she actually mean by any of it? What did I? I blame me.

Under Arbors

I flagged you down as I sat under the tree, waving my hand, flipping it, almost as if I were shoeing you away. But I didn’t need to do it, because I knew you’d seen me from nearly a block away. This is where we’d planned to meet. I’d be nowhere else.

“Hi,” I said, decisively.

You nodded.

“It’s been a while.”

“Only since the last time,” you said. And I knew you would say something exactly like that.

“How are…things?”

“Everything is great. I’m working a lot. I’m going in in a few hours.”

“On a Sunday.”

You nodded again.

“Wouldn’t you know.”

“You said you had something you needed to ask me,” you said. “Did you actually?”

“I’m not stalking you, if that’s what you’re implying.”

“I’m not implying anything. I’m here, aren’t I?”

There is one side of a wall you like to live on.  For a short time, I was on the other side of it. I’m not entirely certain what is there, especially looking back, nor am I sure if you were ever on the other side at the same time as me. But I do know I scaled you, with my ropes and my climbing gear and I jumped down, landing on my knees in a cloud of debris.

“I’m not really sure how to answer that,” I said.”

You took out a book. Began to read.

“Get off the top of the wall,” I said.

“Come back to life,” I said.

“Shit,” I said. “So long ago.”

Chilmark Pond

We put our bags down at the doorway, and all I’m thinking is, Can this really help anything? Can anything really help? The house looks out onto Chilmark Pond and, just further beyond sightline, the Atlantic Ocean.

“It’s worth 20 million,” my aunt said. “The owner, he’s 84. He leaves it seven months a year but needs people to watch it when he’s gone.”

I watch Luke walk into the living room and towards the plate glass window in the back that faces the water. A pair of ospreys are circling the dehydrated lawn. He puts his hand up to the door, looks at me over his shoulder, and flicks his hand to motion for me to come over.

“Christina,” he says. “Look.”

The wind is whipping at the bushes, capping the distant water in white. As I walk up, I watch the ospreys flick their wings, stabilizing themselves over the pond, still in the air. I turn to look at Luke, who has both hands pressed back up against the glass, his breath lightly casting a fog. He’s fixated back on the sky. At once, the ospreys, who’ve been holding for a full minute break the air and dive straight into the pond. They leave the air together; one hits the pond first and emerges with a fish. The other catches nothing.

“Did you see that? Wow,” he says. He doesn’t turn to look at me. His eyes are still fixed on the pond.

“I did,” I say. “I did.”

The wind picks up again. The house, sitting at the top of the hill, seems to catch every gust.

New Girlfriend

I had a new girlfriend,
with lips full and bright,
but then I lost my job
and she had no insight

on where to find work,
and so even though
she said she’d support me,
I told her to go.

So I got a new girlfriend
with much bigger eyes
but she wanted a choice
for her dinner one night.

I said that was cute, but
I knew what she wanted.
She stormed off and left me
right back where I started.

So I got a new girlfriend,
and things were so great
until we had a baby, which
kind of ruined our dates.

It cost too much cash
to provide for all three,
and I felt I deserved to
keep all my own money

So I got a new girlfriend
who cost me no more
until the end of the night –
just another cheap whore.

And then she made me ill,
so I found me another
who could take care of me
like a boy and his mother.

Then things got all weird
when she felt like I owed her
for helping me heal,
so I found me another

new girlfriend, just like
that first one long ago,
but she still wasn’t perfect
so she still had to go.

Mal Means Bad (in the Latin)

How heavy, thine heart?
I’ll weigh it on a grey scale
and then I guess we’ll talk.
Do you recall the time you told me,
“Mal means ‘bad’ in Latin?”

I still speak in tongues and lips and fingertips,
and I keep stuttering semantics, and I always
let you fall for it, making meaning out
of every fated kiss; and I hoped that it
would never come to this

but it always does its part
I’ll weigh it on a grey scale
and then I guess we’ll talk.
Do you recall the time you told me,
“Mal means ‘bad’ in Latin?”

As always, art is open
to the interpretation
of the patron, and while I may
have lost you in translation,
I was found sleeping soundly
in a sea of constellations where
I drowned beneath the comfortable
blankets of abyss, its never-ending
nothingness reminding me
of all that I had missed.

Though I’m hardly a scientist, it seems
to be my density, and not my mass,
that helps me stay afloat; I guess that I’ve
been lying to myself all along. My heart
has only half the hallowed substance of
the ocean that it swallows (albeit eloquently),
but like drinking too much water, you
can drown your cells and suffocate yourself
until you choke; if that’s a metaphor,

I meant it for my heart
I’ll weigh it on a grey scale
and then I guess we’ll talk.
Do you recall the time you told me,
“Mal means ‘bad’ in Latin?”

My betrayal knows no tragedy, and so
my greatest stories have all spilled
from my own pen, and my authenticity
is never called to question, like the
greatest of the dead white men; it seems
I will not go down in history as the
soft romantic man that I believe myself
to be. Instead, I leave my Juliets for
dead and carry on, never stopping
long enough to wonder if I’m wrong.