Every Errand is More Difficult, Still
Yesterday, as I pushed a shopping cart into Trader Joe's, I imagined seeing you walk towards me from the soup aisle.
Imaginary You moved through the space of the store, life-sized. You wore your brown pinstriped jacket with a black t'shirt underneath. Your knapsack hung from one shoulder and you held bottle of wine in your left hand with a can of garbanzo beans nestled between your forearm and torso.
I saw you (almost opaque, like a real person), and thought, what if he really appeared? What if he really walked from over there to where I am standing and said, "Heya, Ruth!"
We'd embrace briefly. A kiss hello. "I thought you were dead!"
"I keep hearing that from people."
"It was all over the internet. The emails conf--"
"Strange. What are you doing right now? Come over!" Another kiss, "I'll cook."
"I . . . you're alive . . ."
The fantasy crushed my mood. Immobilized me.
These days, it's hard to remember your face, and when I do, I see the still images of photographs. But yesterday, in Trader Joe's, you appeared vividly, directly in front of me. I saw your dimples and blue-green-grey smiling eyes. I smelled you. Felt your hair brush along my cheek.
But it was only an unexpected day dream. Pulling you into the present (instead of making do with memories) wasn't an idea as much as something that just happened involuntarily. The vision discontinued abruptly leaving me repeating the thought, He's dead. That's never going to happen.
I maneuvered my cart next to the stacked apples and stood still adjusting to the growing vacancy. He's dead. That's never going to happen. He's dead. You're never going to see him again.
Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. You're never going to see him again. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Then: choose some nuts. Let go of the cart. Both hands, let go. Turn around. See the nuts? Walk over to the nuts.
That's what you'd do when I got upset, change the topic. (Any chess moves?) Inhale. Exhale. I can find the cashews, but you're dead. I'm never going to see you again.
Shh, look for dry roasted. I want you to come back. See your list? What else is on it? Bread? Walk to the bread aisle.
November -- NaBloPoMo -- Day Sixteen