Wednesday, September 9, 2009
He was wearing the ugliest sweater I had ever seen. It was speckled grey with tiny snowflakes. It was the kind of sweater a grandmother might inflict upon an unsuspecting youngster hoping for toys, treats or cold hard cash. He wore it with pride.
My skin had been worn rough and angry from the winds and water of Moscow and now, laying there with my cheek pressed firmly against his chest, I desperately wished he was wearing cashmere instead of wool. I wanted to fidget, to remove the holiday brillo pad from my face but I was too exhausted to move. I was happy and warm in his arms.
I felt safe. I always felt safe with him.
And for the longest time that had been it all. Safety, security and the love of a true friend.
I had been unkind, in a way that proved how truly heartless I could be, but there, wrapped inside his embrace it felt as though all had been forgiven. I should have known better. Nothing is that simple, at least nothing that survives my wake.
I was so exhausted that melding into him was almost involuntary.
It would be different when I woke up, when we pealed apart, when I began to make my exit from the life I had built, which once offered a special place only for him.
I felt like I should say something meaningful, something for the ages. But I had nothing.
All I could think about was that ugly ass sweater.
That damn sweater was the reason I loved him. And the reason it would never work. What is it they say? Good in theory? Maybe. But there, pressed against me, it was all too much.
I had hurt him for no other reason than because I could, because I was angry at the world and all those who had hurt me and yet he took it, and when I made my decent back into the land of palm trees and pretend, he was there waiting for me.
It would end, this beautiful slumber and the quiet. I would leave and he would claim that he only loved me because I didn’t love him back. And then he would be gone.
When the snow falls and melts into the grey of a bitter winter yet to give into its duration, I will think of him. I will imagine our smart-ass repartee and I will laugh. Our end was one I can’t explain and though I know I am to blame, I can’t help feel like I did everything I could to save it.
But there is no such thing as going back. You can’t take back a stolen first kiss, an angry word, a too-honest confession.
You can only learn and you can honor the memory of a moment.
In the end, he started to stir and I knew it was time to awake. It would be different. It would be over. I couldn’t look at him. Instead, I found his breath through sleepy eyes and moved my face to his.
I stopped laughing at his ugly sweater long enough to offer him the kiss I knew I had stolen.
It was too late. It wasn’t the first. I wish more than anything it had been.