All the toilets in my house are clogged. I only have two, but saying ALL has more of an impact. I’ve unclogged them almost every day this week. It’s not the amount of toilet paper. It’s not the timing of our flushing. It’s the toilets. It’s my frustration. It’s metaphor.
It’s easy for me to let go. But everything keeps coming back, flooding my memory at irrational time and unexpected place. “I’m good now,” I say outloud. but I know I will always feel this way, which is to say, never just one thing. I love a good heartbreak. I thrive inside it’s limited presence.
In the early 2000’s on our NYC fire escape, Jess Franco once told me how she loved boundaries. They gave her permission and safety, she would say. All these years I could never understand. Now I understand. Also, I miss her. I always miss her.
It’s Sunday and I’m people watching like I’m on our fire escape. But I’m a decade and a half later, in my home, on Hawthorne. I am healed or forever broken. Heart broken. I think this is how it works. We never really move on and maybe we’re not supposed to. Culturally we view progress laterally. When in truth it’s more horizontal. But still that’s not it. It’s past, present and future on a merry-go -round. We aren’t supposed to know our right from left, up from down. Our feelings and memories coexist and stand up for themselves without warning. Without rhyme or reason. Or maybe it’s just me and mine. I’m okay with that. Trying to be anyway.
I watch couples pass my window with love and ease. I wonder if they are faking. I have too many experiences lately that cause for alarm. That convince me they must be faking. There is so much he isn’t telling her. So much she holds back, for fear he’s not really listening anyway. In my case, he always told me everything and that was equally as difficult. “There is a balance," I text him on a Tuesday. “You know I prefer transparency, but who is that for? Your conscious or my permission?”
On this people watching Sunday I receive a recording of a song he sang for me. At least I thought it was for me. He said it was for us. Maybe he’s just inclusive and I am presumptuous. This voice, his voice, it cracks me wide open. I choreograph my own pain around thirsty plants and pretty pumpkins, on a chair, from my sister. Everything good comes from my sister. I hold my face, let my left eye peek out my window. I still see fakers. I let my tears soothe and affirm me. I send him back streaming tears via an emoji. My god, what have we come to? I keep holding this tired, fragile face, leaking light and one eye, until he writes back…“Did you play it for the girls? I made it for them.” I stand the fuck up. This face is no longer tired. It’s laughing. Yes, of course. Of course it was for them. He tells me he played this song on the piano in concourse D on his lunch break. The song I heard years ago and day dreamed of someone singing that for me, for them. “People started giving me money,” he wrote. Of course they did, I think. Your voice is fucking magic and you are no longer desperate. I want to call Tim and Abby. I want to tell them that he was given dollars without having to ask for any dollars (a joke that they will only love and appreciate and hopefully remember). They were one of the only ones who really saw us as US. It would feel sentimental and sweet, but I’ve got too much sentiment these days, and bitter greens are what my body craves most. So I don’t text or call or do anything really. I just sit and smirk, and know that they can feel me. And they do. I exhale and I cry a little more. Until Octave yells “Maaammmmaaaa” from downstairs. The toilet is clogged again. Of course it is. I laugh and cry, I do both so damn well. I unclog a toilet for the twentieth time this week. Maybe it’s frustration, Maybe it’s metaphor. Maybe it’s these fucking toilets.