I went back to Olympia.
It was the first time I have been there since I left you in your bed.
The sun was burning down out of the sky, like an Albert Camus novel and I was the stranger. I looked for your place, the old place where we were together. And where I left you in your bed.
But the old place is gone, the place where you lived. The place where we loved, is gone.
The whole city was haunted by you. I could see you on every corner. I heard your thoughts regarding the signs in the windows. You were always so intelligent, and witty.
I went back because I haven’t been there in years. I wanted to take photos of the places I knew. It is a part of me, the time you and I were close in the small town. It will always be a part of me, and today it is a part of me I miss.
The pictures of the capitol building, the park, the lake and the streets all made me think of you. It all made me think of you. And as I drove home I listened to the mix CD of your songs.
Even those places where we never went together were haunted by you. The spring in town where I spent time waiting for the bus. On the final lonely dark and cold night we were together. And then apart.
My mother was on her way to help me move to California. I moved to Portland the first time because you once told me you hated Portland. Now I wonder where I would be today if you hadn’t said those words. For the second time, I had almost moved closer to you.
I am back in Portland. But I wouldn’t be if it weren’t for the people I met the first time I moved here. And the second time I moved here is when the wound was the deepest for us. The last time. I went to see you in Olympia after you invited me to visit.
But I stayed too long.
You weren’t happy to have me there so long. You weren’t happy for me to visit you at your school job. You weren’t happy. I walked out that night after you told me you didn’t care if I spent the night or not. I wanted more than anything to be close, and warm and with you one more night. The smell of you.
But I left because I also wanted more than anything not to be leaving the relationship on a note of apathy on your part. I was so tired of your not caring. At the end of the day, it wasn’t enough. Maybe you did care, and for some reason you just couldn’t tell me. I know there were things I didn’t know how or couldn’t tell you. I loved you so much, words failed me. Everything failed me. Sometimes I feel like I failed us.
Where are you now? Hawaii, San Diego or maybe Washington DC. Where would we be if that night was not the last night?
Remember the baby? The one we almost had. You said you did the dance for joy when you found out it was not to be born. My father was happy I wouldn’t be tied to you. But I am tied to you with the fabled red string. Because I once loved you deeply, and I still do, across time and space. Of course time and space are real and love changes.
You introduced me to Leonard Cohen, and he is the one who said. “True love leaves no traces, if you and I are one, it is lost in our embraces, like stars against the sun.”
What we had was never accurately described. I wonder if the fact your mother once called me your “boyfriend” was a factor in your ending things. I never understood why you went through your mood swings. You said one time a boy had left you, and after drinking your mom found you crying and yelling in the driveway. I wanted to hug you, I wanted to go back in time and hug you. I wanted to hug all the pain so many people caused you away. Maybe because like me, so much of the pain in your life was a result of the actions of people who should have known better. People you should have been able to trust to love you and care for you. We were both lost you and I. And I still am.
I went back to Olympia, because it was a place. A moment in time. A memory of not feeling either so alone, or so lost in the world. Every day I feel like the people in my life are further and further away. But it is my fault. And I am more and more alone, lost and emotionally confused. Although I can’t recapture the past, I can taste the memory.