July 23, 2003

Skid Marks

M emailed me last night, the first contact between us in seven months. I worked on my reply for five hours, finally sending it at four in the morning.

When I started writing I was kind. I told her that before reading her email I peed and that while peeing I repeated a little mantra to myself: “Generosity of spirit. Generosity of spirit. Generosity of spirit.”

All that got deleted.

In an early version I wrote:

Of all the things I could tell you, the thing that seems to matter most is this: I’m sorry about what’s gone down. The scene of our relationship now resembles the site of a car accident months after the cars have been towed, a few random skid marks the only evidence that something terrible happened there.

In the version I ended up sending, I deleted the first sentence, which obviously changes the meaning.

I’m not sure what happened between eleven o’clock and four in the morning. Or I do know one thing: I read her website for the first time in seven months. The thing that struck me was a piece she wrote soon after our breakup. It was about her childhood relationship with her father. As she was talking about her father, I got confused because it seemed like she was talking about me. I felt certain I must have missed a reference to my name, so I read back. There was no reference. After re-reading the passage about her father, I again felt certain that she must have switched to talking about me and had merely forgotten to say my name. However in the next paragraph she does say my name and it’s clear that she’s now comparing me to the person in the previous paragraph who really is her father.

This made me angry. I’d rather not go into why; it’s a long story, none of which matters now. What matters instead (or so I thought while peeing) is to find some way to say it’s okay, even if I would only be saying it. Generosity of spirit.

We had our own private language. One of the new pieces on her site was addressed to me in that language. It was a kind of goodbye. I cried when I read it. She always could write things that made me cry. Immediately after reading it, I wrote a response in the same language, never intending to send it. I wish now I had. This is how it ends:

But what does it all mean now? Not much. I say this not to be mean but to say it. All gone like a dream. For that’s what it feels like, like a dream I had or we both had once. Can you think of when we would try, each in our own bed, to dream in the same shade or hue of blue or red? Not once did that work. Nor could I feel it when you would kiss me in my mind how you said you planned to – on my throat, my eyes, in front of my ears, and at last my lips. Still it’s true, I want to find a way to say that we do what we can, though it is nuts, all of it, nuts and cracked, and that still the sun comes up and goes down like that ride in the park, the one that goes round and round for what seems like no time when the time has all passed and you step from the ride and are gone.