One morning I awoke and understood the hole in the middle of me. I realized that I could compromise my life, but not life after me. I couldn't explain it. The need came before explanations. It was not out of weakness that I made it happen, but it was not out of strength either. It was out of need.
The next morning I woke up with a terrible cold. When I said goodbye to him, before he left for the airport, I lifted his suitcase and it felt heavy. That was how I knew he was leaving me. I wondered if I should stop him. If I should wrestle him to the ground and force him to love me. I wanted to hold his shoulders down and shout into his face. I followed him there. I watched him all morning. I did not know how to talk to him. I watched him write in his book. I watched him ask people what time it was, although each person just pointed at the big yellow clock on the wall. It was so strange to see him from a distance. So small. I cared for him in the world as i could not care for him in the apartment. I wanted to protect him from all of the terrible things that no one deserves.
I got very close to him. Just behind him. I watched him write, It's a shame that we have to live but it's a tragedy that we get to live only one life. I stepped back. I could not be that close. Not even then.
From behind a column I watched him write more, and ask for the time, and rub his rough hands against his knees. Yes and No. I watched him get in the line to buy tickets. I wondered, when am I going to stop him from leaving? I didn't know how to ask him or tell him or beg him. When he got to the front of the line I went up to him. I touched his shoulder. "I can see", I said. What a stupid thing to say. My eyes are crummy but I can see. "What are you doing here?" he wrote with his hands. I felt suddenly shy. I was not used to shy. I was used to shame. Shyness is when you turn your head away from something you want. Shame is when you turn your head away from something you do not want. "I know you are leaving," I said. "You have to go home," he wrote, "You should be in bed." "Ok," I said. I did not know how to say what I needed to say. "Let me take you home." "No I do not want to go home." He wrote, "You're being crazy. You're going to catch a cold."
"I already have a cold." "You are going to catch a colder." I couldn't believe he was making a joke. And I could not believe I laughed. The laughter sent my thoughts to our kitchen table, where we would laugh and laugh. That table was where we were close to each other. It was instead of our bed. Everything in our apartment got confused. We would eat on the coffee table in the living room instead of at the dining room table. We wanted to be near the window. We filled the body of the grandfather clock with his empty daybooks, as if they were time itself. We put his filled daybooks in the bathtub of the second bathroom, because we never used it. I sleepwalk when I sleep at all. Once I turned on the shower. Some of the books floated, and some stayed where they were. When I awoke the next morning I saw what I had done. That water was gray with all of his days.
"I am not being crazy", I told him. "You have to go home." "I got tired," I told him. Not worn out, but worn through. Like on of those wives who wakes up one morning and says "I can't bake anymore bread." "You never baked bread," he wrote, and we were still joking. "Then it's like I woke up and backed bread," I said, and we were joking even then. I wondered will there come a time when we won't be joking? And what would that look like? And how would that feel? When I was a girl, my life was musis that was always getting louder. Everything moved me. A dog following a stranger. That made me feel so much. A calender that showed the wrong month. I could have cried over it. I did. Where the smoke from a chimney ended. How an overturned bottle rested at the edge of a table. I spent my life learning to feel less. Everyday I felt less. Is that growing old? Or is it something worse? You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecte yourself from happiness." --Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close