On nights when I know you’re at a party, or on Fridays and Saturdays and Sundays, days when I know you go out drinking, no matter how much I manage to keep you out of my mind the entire week, the entire day, you come creeping into my consciousness, invading the deepest reaches of my brain and I find I have nowhere to hide, no door in my brain with which I can bar the thought of you.
I think of you, beer in hand, sitting at the table, laughing, talking, drinking. I know how you will smell later, the sweetness of the beer seeping through your pores in the early morning cold. If I could, I would drown in it, and bottle it up to keep with me on nights without you.
On nights like this, I wonder if you’re holding someone else, sharing with her everything you shared with me. I wonder if you are falling asleep with her in your arms, as you never could with me.
When the nights turn into mornings, I think about what you must be doing right now. Lying on your stomach, dead to the world until I wake you and you open your arms to me. I remember telling you once that you smelled like beer, and you said yes, you’d been drinking. You thought it was a reproach, or that I demanded an explanation for where you’d been. You didn’t know I was complimenting you on bringing to me a scent I could envelope myself in forever. I wish I could go to you now, snuggle up close to your chest and grab the hard cords of muscles in your arms. I remember your hands. Working man’s hands from what you do every day, so different from all the hands I have known. I remember how you run them up and down my back and my arms and I wish you would do it again.
But I want you out of my mind. I don’t want to remember our conversations over little things in our lives, in our past, that make us more human to each other. That remind us that despite crossing borders and cultures, humanity in its essence is not that much different. I don’t want you to send me little reminders of your existence, little reminders that I entered your mind as a very good friend who has now left and gone far away. I don’t want to remember the words that popped up on my phone screen that broke me more than any distance or time away from you could.
I like you so much, but not the same way as you like me.
Suddenly fences spring up in the wide field of common humanity. In my mind’s eye, I see the wide expanse of greenery we pass on the way to work being parceled and cows being fenced in with barb wire that you wouldn’t notice if you don’t look carefully. I hadn’t seen these invisible fences, these cultural barriers. In that instant, I knew no matter how much humanity in its essence is the same, it is different. No matter how I appeared to have assimilated, I hadn’t. And I knew I would have to choose how I want to forget you, or remember you.
I want to remember you as the boy I played with, rolled on the floor fighting with. The one who asks me how to do stuff, who would rather go hungry than eat food he doesn’t like. I don’t want to remember you as the man I shared my body with, the one I defer to for decisions, who drives me around in his car with a skill and daring I cannot exceed, and makes grown-up decisions like buying a house. Most of all, I don’t want to remember you as the man who brings me to heights of passion night after night until forever ended for me.
But I don’t want you to be the first thing I think of when I wake up. Don’t invade my mind with images of all the girls you hang around every night with their boobs and their butts and how much you want them. Erase the sweetness of your voice telling me you don’t have these girls anymore and have only me. Or let me remember it with the suffix, with the was and the past tense, for a limited time only.
Please stop invading my waking hours that pass into dreamy nights of you. After all, you were never mine to keep.