K.S. ANTHONY: This Is Where I Leave You

20 September 2017

This Is Where I Leave You

She walked away. Once. Then again. And then again.

Then again, what I had wanted was for her to hold on, to keep holding on, to refuse to let go. I wanted her to protect those letters, those mornings walking past the black iron gates and over the misty bridge, those things that I had to let go of. I wanted her to keep me, keep us, even though I knew that the only part of me that she’d be able to keep were the artifacts of memory that I had so desperately created while we were together, strung together in paper and ink over lonely hours and quiet waiting. 

Maybe she did. Maybe she didn’t. Maybe she will. Maybe she won’t. Because those things are where I can’t be; cannot ever be, I’ll never know.

I live with these memories now. Of a quiet girl with long blonde hair who loved kisses and books and coffee and lingering breakfasts and who loved me better than I deserved. Of dew sparkling in the English winter morning and a hand that always found mine. Of a city that I had to give up everything to return to. All of that, but most of all that on our last day together, I watched snowfall through the window of her dorm room, not really understanding that eventually it would all melt away, not really understanding that all I would ever be able to do is look back and find that she had gone.

This is where I leave you.

Those are the words I said when next I saw her, two summers and two bruised hearts later, as I tried to summon the courage to say something else to mark another goodbye. I stumbled, as I always do when I speak. Here I left you, here I found you. A wanderer's words, stolen from some esoteric handbook and clumsily handed over to a girl I once loved -- and perhaps still loved -- on a September morning at the end of a summer that might have otherwise been entirely owned by misery. Speech – like patience, like hope, like love, like so many other things –failed me.

Actually, the reverse is true. I failed in speech, just as I did – and do –  in patience and hope and love and so many other things.

When I kissed her on the forehead, the ache of unspoken words lodged in my throat, I realized that she was wearing the same perfume that I had carried in my jacket like a talisman next to my now-long-gone rosary. There were no words for that either and when I looked back, trying to remember lines from Orpheus, trying to remember the last time I looked back, I found myself drowning in my longing. I sat for a while on a bench, trying to find a way to rewrite, rescript, do everything that had just happened over again, but when I turned around in the crushing hope that she would still be there, waiting for me, she was nowhere to be found. 

And that is where she left me.