Well, I don’t have a neat little entry composed in my head this morning, but I’m going to heed Dan’s advice and just start writing anyway. Grieving and writing are both much more about process than initial inspiration or end result.
I took a shower just now, and did the thing where I called out to Dan to bring me my razor. “Hey Dan?” “Dan?” “Can you bring me my razor?”
Silence- just the sound of the water beating down on my head.
I do it because I like to feel and hear the sound of my voice, tone, the way I would speak to only him. If I imagine he’s there in the bedroom- working on his computer, or laying in bed…if I imagine he really is, and then I call out for him – for just a second, I sound like my old self. I hear the voice of a ghost- my ghost. It’s the me that died with you.
Speaking of identity, yesterday I had some old college friends drive up from Virginia together just to spend the afternoon with me- and then just drive back down that night. A couple of them I hadn’t seen in quite a few years. We’ve gone in slightly different directions in our lives. But then they were here, and it was just as though I’d seen them, as trite as it sounds- yesterday- or at least last week.
We walked along the river together with Audrey and went grocery shopping- it could’ve been a food run back in college. But it wasn’t. Mike picked out bunches of sunflowers to replace the tired bouquet in Dan’s vase at the desk where his photos are. We pushed Audrey around and I picked out a few snacks for her. I realized at some point, I wasn’t going to be telling Dan about my time with my friends- how I would’ve. And I realized why I was with them, and felt again, standing by the muffins, that the world was empty of him. That I was left.
And though I felt different in my grieving state- I was able, by just being with them, to remember a me before I met Dan. A me that laughed and had fun and had big dreams. A me that was a bit crazy and silly at times, and thought deeply at other times. I was happy to catch a glimpse of her, and also to realize she had still been here all these years and is still here now. She is the essence of me- not my intellect or ideas, or even my “heart,” but my soul- my very essence. And she, though quiet, as if hiding in the corner of a large empty room, rocking slightly in the fetal position, is still there now. I will not rush her- she can take all the time she needs. I can see she has suffered a tremendous loss.
Yesterday I found some receipts you’d put in an accordion file you bought for music expenses. But you must have just put all of the receipts in your wallet in there right before you left, figuring you’d sort through them later. I found the receipt from our last dinner together. At Bryant Park Grill- the one where we looked at each other in that certain way- when I saw you coming towards me from the restroom, we smiled. “This is expensive,” I’d said. “You deserve it,” you’d said. We hadn’t been out in so long like this. We were sitting outside and admired the trees in the park, and we commented on how different it was to sit outside in the city versus outside at some restaurant at a suburban mall.
I remember at the table beside ours, a man and a woman seemed to be meeting for the first time- they appeared in their 50’s and I wondered what their story was. Had they been set up by friends? Did they meet online? They were both attractive, and I remember feeling there were already a few sparks. I wanted to tell you that I thought the couple next to us was going to end up getting married. But then they were close, and I knew how you hated it when I said things too loudly and people overheard. (though you definitely did this too- I remember once in Park Slope on the street when you said someone’s baby wasn’t cute at all and they glared back at you). But anyway, I never got to tell you about that couple.
I wish I could remember more of our conversation that night. A lot of it was about the food and how good it was. I’m sure we talked of Audrey and something she’d done that day. I probably asked you about how things wrapped up at your job. And I remember us checking our phones for the time to make sure we weren’t late for Abbie’s play. I wish, oh I wish, I could by thinking really hard, transport myself back to that table for just one moment. To see you walking towards me. Smiling.
Instead, the receipt of cold numbers and facts is what I have. DOB: 06/25/2010 Server: Luis 7:40 PM Table 177/1 Magnetic card present: CHO DANIEL H Approval 446719 Amount: $95.21 Tip: 17.00 (in your handwriting) Total: 112.21 This is our “Customer Copy.”