I practice seeing you…around the apartment- so I don’t forget, and also because if I try really hard, it’s almost like you’re there. Relief rushes through my body for one moment.
I see you…sitting in your desk chair- the Moses chair from Ikea. You had picked out the cheapest one- while mine was the most expensive. I kind of hated yours with its black tucked vinyl cushions but you spoke of it fondly- “I like the Moses,” you said. “It’s comfortable.”
In a society where new is always better, you went against the grain. I once read about how actually we’re not attached to material things at this point- we’re detached. We find it very easy to get rid of something to upgrade to the next. It was our grandparents that saved jars and bottles and passed down heirlooms- not because they bought them intentionally to be heirlooms like we do today- but because they saved them. You were like that- wearing your clothes and shoes until they were unwearable. My style would change and I’d go from shabby chic to modern vintage decor in the house and tell you we’d be getting rid of a chair or dresser. “But I like it,” you’d say. “What’s wrong with it?” This was one of your strongest qualities. It was loyalty.
Anyway, I see you in your chair, with your knees bouncing as you focus on some soccer highlight clip, or search for jobs, or email a music contact. The fingers of your left hand is on your lower lip and then your nose. You stop and scratch your scalp. Your back is turned to me as I sit on the bed doing my own freelance work, but I look up at you often. I see you there.
I see you coming in our room at night- being very quiet because Audrey’s nook is right outside our door. You turn the knob slowly…you come in with one foot pivoting off the ground in white socks. You have headphones on and your backpack. You take off your headphones and turn to me, and sigh a great big sigh. “Tough day?” I say. I see you there.
I see you next to me in the bathroom, flossing your teeth. In the beginning of marriage I found it endearing to brush and floss next to you. Later I found it gross- watching your mouth so wide open and the face you made as you flossed. It bothered me how you’d throw your floss in the toilet and I’d tell you it’s not a garbage. Then you’d brush your teeth way too hard- the dentist said your gums were receding- I’d remind you. “Too hard!” I see you there- every night, flossing beside me.
I see you standing at the kitchen sink washing our dishes. You were the designated “dishwasher” and you said you were better at it than me. If I did it, you’d later point out stuck on food and make a face at me as if to say, “C’mon?” But you’d always have to pee while you were washing them so you’d start washing faster and be swaying back and forth from foot to foot doing this little dance. “Just go to the bathroom,” I’d say- and then you’d hop away. I see you there…when I sit at the kitchen table watching Audrey finish eating.
I see you beside me in bed. You have one arm over your eyes as you sleep. I notice the little scar on your elbow and the beauty of your wrist and strong hands. But I always wanted you to wake up. So I’d sometimes have something small to tickle your face with and you’d bat it away saying “mmmmm!” “Leave me alone!” in this joking way you would say it with a soft “l” sound for all the l’s. I see you there right now as I sit here typing. I want so badly to reach over and wake you- touch the smooth skin of your arm and brush the hair out of your face.
You are so real to me still- it takes more effort for me to see the ruffled sheet with tissue box and journal and dirty clothes that are actually beside me than to see you there. But