Sometimes I can’t help it: I remember. Memory is a piñata filled with moments, you the stick beating it to shreds.
I remember: We were sitting somewhere that looked like a hotel lobby — the weather in my memory feels Floridian, but we were never in a hotel lobby together in Florida — and I was reading and you were reading and I looked at you and asked you to talk to me. And you had nothing to say. And I went back to reading.
That same trip: this memory firmly rooted in the Boston train station. It was the early AM hours and we were sitting on a latticed bench in front of a closed McDonalds. You were talking to your mother in Spanish on the phone, and I was sitting next to you, crying. You were surprised when you noticed. You kept talking when you noticed. By the time you hung up, I had stopped crying.
Earlier that night: You suggested we see a movie. I noticed that the armrests folded up in the theater. We kept them down, and when the sad parts happened you had to reach over the cupholder to put your arm around me, and I knew the impulse was too fragile to sustain my fidgeting even though the metal was hurting my hip.
The night before: We shared a hotel room with two queen beds. I lay down in the first one, and you lay down in the second. I moved to the second. You moved to the first.
The week before: You leaned shirtless over the sink and I shaved your head under your bright white bathroom lights. You said you didn’t feel close to me anymore. You suggested that we take a trip. I brushed the hair off the back of your neck with my fingertips.
The month before: You stood in the doorway to my bedroom and wouldn’t take off your jacket. “I shouldn’t have kissed you last night,” you said.
The night before: You stood in the doorway to my bedroom until the lamplight from the living room woke me up. You said, “I’ve missed you.” You started crying. I made room for you to sit. You draped your jacket on my bedpost. “It’s okay,” I told you. “It’s okay.”
The summer before: Sitting between your open legs at night. Your hands on the widest part of my hips under my bikini. My voice, saying, “I can’t believe this hot tub fits so many people.” Your voice, saying, “Why don’t we turn on the bubbles?”
That evening: My head in your lap on the train up from L.A. We played a word game. “Pollo,” I said. You said, “That’s not a fair one.”
That afternoon: You drove us to the train station. Traffic was bad. You were going silent. I taught you a word game: “Atlantic.” “Anticipate.” “Paternal.” The more syllables you use, the more points you get. You smiled.
That morning: Your mother wanted to go shopping. You wanted to stay asleep. I volunteered to go with her. We spoke no common language, but when she held up a bag of chicken, I said, “¡Sí!” She laughed. She hugged me.
Two months earlier: We were sharing a queen-sized bed in our friend’s guest cottage. You were on your back and I was curled under your arm with my head on your chest. Our skin was bright red and peeling, but we let our hands stray anyway.
That morning: I tried rubbing SPF 35 into your back in the Florida sun. You laughed. Brown people don’t get sunburned, you told me. Well, I’m not brown, I said. But still I stopped and didn’t ask you to return the favor.
That January: You picked me up and spun me in a circle and kissed me on the lips when I knocked on your apartment door to surprise you, coming back a day early after New Year’s.
That December: I lay in the single bed in my apartment and listened to your voice in my ear all the way from California.
That November: I danced to Frank Sinatra by myself in my room, thinking how lucky I was and wondering where we would be years from now.
That November: You kissed me on the lips.
That November: You kissed me on the forehead.
That November: You held my hand.
That November: You shook my hand.
That November: How lucky I was.