You asked me last night, ‘What do you want from me?”- as this year turns into next.
10 years go by quickly, don’t they?
Do you remember that one Christmas we sat on the phone till each of our suns came up? I was home from school; you were taking the year off. We must’ve been 18 or so. Remember how tired we both were that next day? My mom rolling her eyes when I stumbled down to open presents half drunk off no sleep.
I asked you that year- Do you think we could end up together?
I try not to think about it, you said. It doesn’t seem likely, and it’s sad.
But do you think when were older, if we chose to live in the same country- the same place- do you think we’d still talk all night?
I imagine we’d get bored, you said.
And I smiled because you’ve never been romantic.
Give it a few years, I told you then.
And a few years, we gave.
And then a few more.
Love is indefinable I’ve found – but falling into it is not.
You ask what I want from you – as we close in on a decade. As another year rolls, birthdays pass, our locations change, and our hairstyles go from short to long, long to short.
It’s Christmas time in New York, and 10 years later I look around, and I’m still the girl sitting at a coffee shop writing effortlessly to you- wondering now, if there comes a time that we owe it to one another? Is there a limit of years we can continue like this? To talk as though nothing could ever change- as though we will always be the people we are on the phone.
Are we meant to only speculate as the years turn? Or do you wonder what a life with me could be? You as ornery as you are and I as impulsive.
Can we talk about what those people could be together– if only once– so that we’ll know it existed, if merely between the two of us. Because I find that here we are at 26 years old, and you’re still the person that I don’t want to remember one day and think to myself: “but we all have regrets.”
The truth is I’m tired, and I don’t want another symbol that we’ve failed each other- another package of your mother’s chocolate. I don’t need another bag of Haribo candy and by God you don’t need another platter shaped as the Americas.
But you and I? We do need a life. We owe each other that– A theoretical one, at best.
So that at least once you heard me say:
You’re the person I want to come home to at night–
And the person I want to make coffee for in the morning. It’s intimate – we’d realize – to share coffee in the mornings, our teeth unbrushed, bags under our eyes, to be together at our most disheveled.
But I suppose one day we’d forget that, the intimacy of it. And we’d just become the person you watch getting dressed in the morning; you the person I watch from my bed while you dig through drawers, your aging stomach pushing over your boxers. I’d notice it occasionally, when you bend over and complain about how I haven’t done the laundry in weeks. Roll my eyes because you’re always complaining.
We’d have a pet, I imagine. A dog that you pick because I refuse to get a cat. You’ll pretend to hate it of course, but we both know it’ll be you scooping out the dog food into a metal bowl every morning- smiling as you force it to eat, growing impatient like you do.
“Eat,” you’ll say sighing.” Eat your food. No, not there. THERE.” You’ll point as I come out of our room, half-dressed with a bobby pin in my mouth.
I’ll look at your eyes those mornings. Notice the crows feet forming beside them; The spots on your neck you forgot to shave. The age marks darkening on your arms.
I’ll think that you look like your dad more and more. That, like your dad, you grow more handsome with each year, and I’ll still want you. Run my hands over your shirt when you walk my way.
I have to work, you’ll whisper, smiling- as the dog comes running into the hallway before you leave, jumping up and shedding on your pants.
See you later, you’ll groan as you walk out.
There’s a Lint Roller in the glove compartment, I’ll say– thinking that you deserve it for being as impatient as you are.
I want kids one day– yes, kids. Isn’t it terrifying– we’ve laugh about– but I want you to be the one that stands at my head when I’m having our first. You be the one that gets more worked up and I have to tell you in between pushing to shut up and just hold my hand. Watch your big brown eyes stare at this thing we’ve created- and be scared to death when it comes time to put him or her in a car seat.
What do we do with it? You’ll ask.
It? I’ll say. Please don’t refer to our child as an ‘it.’
I want to go to the school events together. Spring plays where this kid of ours will have a small part as a donkey but you know I’ll film it anyway. You’ll say it’s a waste of film, but as soon as you see how mad it makes me you’ll sit back quietly as he or she walks across the stage, looking for us in the audience.
I want conversations with you; all the ones we’ve missed over these last 10 years. The years we had significant others and weren’t as available; when our phones wouldn’t connect; when our emails were lost.
I want those conversations back and more– those quiet ones that married couples forget they have. You tell me about a book you’re reading. I tell you that I’m afraid my dad’s getting older, losing ability to move well. Lay on the couch with you as you tell me that that’s life and that your dad was sick for a long time before he died. Listen to the dishwasher as it dries cracked dishes; listen to one of these kids while they play the piano– and play it badly. You quietly imitating the way they bang around on the keyboard.
Why are we forcing them to play? You’ll whisper.
I’ll tell you that they’ll get better; that I got better with time, and that music is a theory worth knowing.
You’ll mumble about it, disagree, but give up.
I want to travel with you– all over the world– see that Austrian snow you always talk about. We’ll be in the cold more than I care to be, but I’ll accept it– and am willing to compromise as long as you promise to take care of your knees and shoulders and don’t end up in a wheelchair from all that snowboarding. (Have you gone back to the doctor yet?)
We can go all over together– the two of us. We’ll conquer the continents. Drag our children along on leashes. You’ll be mad that I rented them and I’ll say it’s practical. We’ll compromise on a stroller after you convince me of the psychological damage a leash ensues. We’ll see everything– and forget it right after–when our backs hurt from walking, when we’ve tripped on uneven cobblestone. We may never have the money we want, but by God we will see the things that are worth seeing. Go to Disneyworld so I can watch you cool yourself all day with a Mickey Mouse fan. We’ll ride every ride the kids want, and while I’m worrying about them falling out of the sides, you’ll be complaining about how uncomfortable the seats are.
We’ll sit in airports together; watch our flights get cancelled, make faces, cuss, be mad with one another over something unavoidable and laugh it off later. Drink wine in the TGIFridays bar to pass the time, getting so drunk we stumble through the airport gates looking at the boarding passes over and over again to remember which way.
Gate 16, you’ll say. Are you sure it’s not 15?
I don’t know. Do you have the boarding thing?
The ticket? Yeah- It’s Gate 15.
How far are we?
How would I know? You’ll say, accidentally dropping our bags on the tile– Scrambling to pick them up and over your shoulders.
What did you pack? You’ll mutter. Rocks?
I want this life with you– of dinners that I don’t really like but know you enjoy– of cooking in a kitchen that is ours and feel you come up from behind me, grabbing a piece of chicken off the skillet and throwing it into your mouth. Watch you grab a beer from the fridge and open it with your teeth when you walk out to talk to your mom in the backyard. You’ll sit with your feet propped on a chair, the backyard lights peeking out on your face. I’ll watch you move your hands from the kitchen window, casting them in the air as you talk. A beer half- drank on the patio table in front of you, your cell phone resting on your shoulder.
I want to go to parties with you that we don’t care about; that neither of us want to attend but have to because I said we would. Complain about it in our minivan. Enter the room together and count down the minutes till we can leave. Look at the buffet line and agree that all the food looks like plastic but pick out crackers and cheese wedges anyway. Eye each other from across the room when someone is boring us.
I want to visit our parents together; try to get everyone together, but fail every year. Laugh at the dining room table at my parent’s house. You and my dad eating pie and talking about how the world is going to hell while little kids are running around the living room– knocking each other into my mom’s fine furniture.
I want to grow old with you, get fitted with glasses at the doctor. Make fun of each other and how we can’t see anything anymore. Stub my toe on a piece of furniture and cuss under my breath as you laugh.
I want my breasts to sag so I can complain about it; how I hate getting old. How death feels like it’s on our doorstep and have you smile and say: Well, get used to it. We are old.
I want to fight with you – and I know we would. We’ll fight over everything sometimes– and some years we’ll fight more than others and we’ll hold each other less. But I’d like to think I know right now, that no matter how mad you made me, how much I wanted to walk out, you’d still be worth holding onto– And that I waited so many years to have my life fit with yours.
We’ll fight over the things that matter, and all the things that don’t. Argue in a car about which direction to take, about how much money we’re spending, argue about our jobs, and where we’re going to live- about how you don’t believe in “Western” medicine, and how to raise a kid in this ever-changing screwed up world.
I want to take a break sometimes, when things feel overwhelming and the kids are throwing toys at each other, and there’s marker on the wall and the fridge smells like something died. Go to a bar close by and drink beer to feel young and talk about how we could’ve ended up in a million different places but here we still are. Talk about all the dreams we didn’t do but should’ve. Think about what our life could’ve been and what worked and what didn’t–
Leave happy anyway.
I want to start looking like you. How couples that have been together forever look, do the same things. Walk the same walk. Dress alike and they don’t even know.
I want all the rest of our years; the one we get sucked into work, the years our parents die, the years we don’t have enough money, and the years our children take over and become the only thing we focus on.
I want those, and I want the good too– the years we are empty-nesters. The events we celebrate, the days we smile more- and the moments loving each other is easy.
So I suppose what I’m asking you for tonight – as we close in on this decade – is unlike anything I’ve posed before. And anything I’ll posed after.
The truth is I’m tired of living without you– and I don’t want to do it for the next 10 years, or 20, or however many are left until this email chain is over. I don’t want to miss another call, another birthday, another Christmas.
What I want this year, is to be at the end of all this living with you, crippled and befuddled, walking in circles forgetting to remember things – forgetting to remember us – but inherently knowing you’re the one I have to say goodbye to.
It’s 2015, W, it’s Christmas, and I’m tired of wandering around this earth without you –
For the truth is that you will always be the love in my life–so let me be the love in yours.