I am preparing for a party. I like to throw a party and fill all my rooms with friends and beer bottles. I sweep the floors, spray down surfaces with Mr. Clean, place extra toilet paper rolls in the bathroom and do a few loads of laundry, just in case.
I wash your stains off my sheets, and my stains off the towels.
I take out the trash. It’s raining a little, and there are fat, showy peonies growing behind my building. I pick a few and admire them in their thrift-store vase. I was taught from a very young age to appreciate beauty in all its forms by a beloved aunt, a grandmother who lived in a house full of treasures, a babysitter who came from a magical family. My apartment is probably too full of things I think are beautiful, now. Find it in everything, I always say to myself. I used to bring you flowers – lilacs, mostly – whenever I saw them on my way to your house. No one ever brings boys flowers, but they like them just as much as I do.
My best friend has come to stay for the week, and as a thank you she brings me a garbage bag full of nightgowns, slips and robes – showy hot pink, a Dior cotton with a Bergdorf tag. I wash them all and shove them in a drawer. I used to wear these silly thrifted little slips and nighties to bed when he still woke up thinking I was Christmas morning. I played the part as long as I could, and then, just like always, I found myself looking out the window
I feel a little funny, as I sometimes do lately, after the EKG tests and the medicine, and so I decide to take a bath. I can’t decide if these funny fluttery feelings are in my head or not.
“I go to loud places to search for someone to be quiet with,” sings the radio. In college, John and I would get addicted to a certain sad song and play it over and over, swallowing big mouthfuls of the lyrics, singing it in the car and back and forth to class.
I get out of the tub a half hour later and am disgusted with the ring I left in my old, impossible-to-clean tub. I had forgotten that yesterday I was covered with sand and other people’s sweat. I dry myself off on the rugless floor and put on lotion and lilac perfume. I step into someone else’s dress – a thrift store dress I accidentally paid $14 for – and go about my day. I hang up all the clothes and fold every towel perfectly.
My heart still hurts, though.