Thursday, 10 July 2014

Together by Yalun Tu

Read by Sean Hebert at 'Kisses & Blows'

I don’t know how much you know but we’re supposed to end up together. The narrative was written from the onset, beginning with a kiss in Connecticut on a party weekend. Your friend – remember her, the golden haired, wild one – was snapping pictures and captured it, by coincidence, by circumstance, by fate, and how perfect is that? Our first kiss, destined to adorn a wall in our hallway. Oh, that picture? It’s a funny story, really. I could practically hear your girlfriends gush.

I don’t know how much you know but we’re supposed to end up together. There was talk of a house, a dog, winters with sweaters. We’d kiss in the rain clink champagne glasses, the years would turn, and I’d read newspapers and you’d stir your museli in the morning. But we’d still be us, I’d still see that secret look you me give during parties that means I’m doing this for you and I hope you know that but oh I still love you and it’s alright as long as you clean up afterwards. And I would because dirty dishes should never be left out as they attract bugs and oh-by-the-way-I-love–you-too.

I don’t know how much you know but we’re supposed to end up together. Our time together was a Friday – the anticipation of pleasure, a weekend that could – and would – fall in every direction. There were Tunisian restaurants and moonlight tangoes, a surprise trip to Florida where we cooked my grandmother lamb chops. “I swear, it was one of the top meals of my entire life” she still says in her Maryland twang.

People reduce this sentiment to cliché, adopts maxims, we’ll go where the wind takes us or home is where the heart is or all I need is you not realizing how stupid these things are. I went where I planned to in a home I paid for on a targeted, mapped out course to maximize my utility. It is as clinical and perfect as it sounds and will lead to me being rich and successful whilst keeping a touch of boyish charm. And this is why you like me. And this is why you love me.

And this is why you loved me.

We’re supposed to be together. I moved to Hong Kong and – we’re supposed to be together. Hong Kong is a Saturday. Hong Kong is a queue of beautiful parties. Hong Kong is love and love here is never having to check your bank account balance.

It was only a pit stop, a blip, a two year plan that turned to three to six to seven to the end of us. We were supposed to be a Sunday – bike rides, brunch, undercover snuggles in the limping afternoon. I would bring you hot chocolate and you would accept it because all women love chocolate but somehow you love chocolate more than the rest of them. I would put my arm around you and trick you into thinking the marshmallows are homemade but you’d be far too smart for that. And when you opened your mouth to protest I’d kiss it and there would be laughs and chocolate and then only the sounds of two people next to each other.

I don’t know how much you know, dear. There was a moment – no scratch that – there were four moments when everything seemed lost and I could have fixed it and I didn’t. The night before I flew to Hong Kong and you stayed over and we woke up eyes swollen. When you asked me to stay but I had booked a trip to Europe and left. When my dad was sick and I called you and you told me you still loved me in the elevator bank. When the skinny guy, Kaz I think was his name, (he’ll always be the skinny guy to me) broke up with you and you came to New York and lay in my hotel bed. I remember watching you, curled up tight, arms wrapped around the pillow. And I leaned over and whispered a secret into your ear.

I don’t know if you heard but it was important. And I thought that there, in the early morning, in the beauty of that hotel room, if I mouthed in 100 times it would finally become true. There is power in words and power in a name and – and – and….

We’re supposed to be together. I learned that you were engaged via Facebook. I clicked a link and saw the ring, saw the congratulations from our friends. I was in my office eating a bagel. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day in Hong Kong. And I went to the coffee shop and ordered a coffee. And I drank the coffee and went back to my office. And I remembered the Frank O’Hara poem “The Day Lady Died”:

It is 12:20 in New York a Friday
three days after Bastille day, yes
it is 1959 and I go get a shoeshine
because I will get off the 4:19 in Easthampton   
at 7:15 and then go straight to dinner
and I don’t know the people who will feed me

And now you’re married and now you’re happy and you looked so beautiful in the wedding pictures I saw. I’ve sent you a few emails – short, terse – “Happy birthday”, “check out this funny video”, “look at the kittens” when what I meant to say was… What is there to say, anyway? You’re happy and I’m happy for you and that’s not true at all. I’m blessed for what we had and what we have and how I’m me now because of you. We’re supposed to be together but I suppose you supposed differently. And I don’t know how much you know but it’s Monday now.

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