Read by Sean Hebert
I don’t know how much you know but we’re supposed to end up together. The narrative was written long ago, starting with a kiss in New Haven on a party weekend. Your friend – remember her, the red haired, wild one? – was snapping pictures and captured it, by coincidence, by circumstance, by fate, and really, how perfect is that? Our first kiss, destined to adorn a wall in our hallway. Oh, that picture? It’s a funny story, really. It was our sophomore year in college... I could practically hear your girlfriends gush.
I don’t know how much you know but we’re supposed to end up together. There was talk of a house, a dog, winters with sweaters. We’d kiss in the rain and clink champagne glasses. The years would turn but stay the same: I’d read newspapers; you’d eat muesli in the mornings. But we’d still be us.There’d still be that secret look you give me during parties. You know, the one that means I’m doing this for you and I hope you know that but oh-I-still-love-you and it’s-alright-provided-you-tidy-up-when-they’re-gone. And I would, because dirty dishes should never separate two people and oh-by-the-way-I-love-you-too.
I don’t know how much you know but we’re supposed to end up together. Together we were Friday – the anticipation of pleasure, a weekend that could fall in any direction. There were Tunisian restaurants and moonlight tangoes, a surprise trip to Florida where we cooked my grandmother lamb chops. “I swear, it was one of the top meals of my entire life,” she still says in her Maryland twang.
A reader might be inclined to reduce this sentiment to cliché, add it to a list of platitudes – we go where the wind takes us or home is where the heart is or all I need is you – without knowing our narrative. I go where I plan in a home I paid for, on a targeted course to maximize my utility. It is as clinical and perfect as it sounds and will lead to me being rich and successful whilst keeping that touch of my boyish charm. And this is why you like me. And this is why you love me.
And this is why you loved me.
We’re supposed to be together. I moved to Hong Kong and – we’re supposed to be together. Hong Kong is a Saturday. Hong Kong is a queue of beautiful parties. Hong Kong is love and love here is never having to check your bank account balance.
The plan was a pit stop, a blip, a two year stint that turned to three to six to seven to the end of us. We were supposed to be a Sunday – bike rides, brunch, undercover snuggles in the afternoon. I would bring you hot chocolate and you would accept it because all women love chocolate but somehow you love chocolate more than the rest of them. I would put my arm around you and trick you into thinking the marshmallows were homemade but you’d be far too smart for that. And when you opened your mouth to protest I’d kiss it and there would be laughs and chocolate and then only the sounds of two people sitting next to each other.
I don’t know how much you know but
There was a moment – no scratch that – there were four moments when it was over and I could have fixed it but I didn’t. The night before I flew to Hong Kong and you stayed over and we woke up eyes swollen. The summer here when you asked me not to go but I was angry and booked a trip to Europe and left. When my dad was sick and I called you in that elevator bank and you told me you still loved me and I told you I loved you but had started something new and doesn’t that deserve a chance? When the skinny guy, Kaz (I think that was his name, but he’ll always be “skinny guy” to me), broke up with you and you jumped on a bus to New York and slept in my hotel bed. I remember watching you, curled up tight, arms wrapped around the pillow. And I leaned over and whispered a secret in your ear.
I don’t know if you heard but it was important. And I thought that there, in the early morning, in the beauty of that hotel room, if I mouthed it 100 times it would finally become true. There is power in words and power in a name and – and – and….
We’re supposed to be together.
I learned that you were engaged via Facebook. I clicked a link and saw the ring, the congratulations from our friends. I was in my office calculating free cash flow. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. And I went to the coffee shop and ordered a coffee. And I drank the coffee and went back to my office. And I remembered the Frank O’Hara poem “The Day Lady Died”:
It is 12:20 in New York a Friday
three days after Bastille day, yes
it is 1959 and I go get a shoeshine
because I will get off the 4:19 in Easthampton
at 7:15 and then go straight to dinner
and I don’t know the people who will feed me
And now you’re married and now you’re happy and you looked so beautiful in the wedding pictures I saw. I’ve sent you a few emails – short, terse – “Happy birthday,” “check out this funny video,” “look at the kittens,” when what I meant to say was...
What is there to say, anyway? You’re happy and I’m happy for you and that’s not true at all. I’m blessed for what we had and what we have and how I’m me now because of you. We’re supposed to be together but I suppose you supposed differently. And I don’t know how much you know but its Monday now.