“It will look best from what I like to call ‘cocktail party length,’” my surgeon said. “But when you get closer, you’ll know it’s not real.” Reconstruction is a tricky thing. Trying to rebuild something from a memory, from a photo, from an idea of what it should look like—is a formidable task. It’s difficult to recreate something once it is gone, harder still to make something that was never really even there.
Relationships are like ears in that way. You have to be exacting. You have to know what to cut, what to let go. You have to decide—sometimes within a lot less time than you’d like—what can be saved.
How many times do you have to do something before it becomes a pattern? What about a habit? What’s the difference? Does it matter?
“Practice makes perfect, but nobody’s perfect, so why practice?” is a joke my dad liked to tell me. But he also drove me to the county park on Saturday mornings in January throughout the ‘90s, so I could run through a foot of snow. So I know—for sure—it was just the wordplay and not the sentiment that he supported. I used to think about you while running through the snow.
It was very quiet and cold. I had a lot of ground to cover and a lot of time to myself. I used it to curse the terrain and think about you. Well, not you, but the idea of you.
When I first saw you it was through a crowd. I couldn’t quite make you out. Maybe I was still reconciling the picture I had of you in my mind with reality. I pretended not to see you until you got closer. It’s better to pretend not to see something until you’re sure of what it is.
That’s what you did with my ear, I think. That’s what we do with all the flaws—cosmetic and otherwise—of the people we love. Things are much different than when I first saw you. But I don’t need to keep you at “cocktail party length.” When we get closer, I know it’s real.