by B. H. DANSFORTH
Attachment is the great fabricator of illusions; reality can
be attained only by someone who is detached. — Simone Weil
By that time there were two of them, and I lived in a pointless fear that one would see me with the other.
Neither of them thought he was my boyfriend, but I knew in my heart one was.
I saw Michael with his dog in a park. She died, struck by a car, a few weeks later. You can imagine my surprise.
From New York, I moved to San Jose and back. Flights take too long.
Michael had this crest of hair, and when he touched silverware, he always turned it over in his hand. Are you good enough to touch my body?
See if you can figure out who is my boyfriend, I don’t know.
OK, but so I imagined what would happen if Michael saw me with Luis. Eventually I thought of a proper solution: I would say that Luis was an attorney, I was making a will, and I would give him everything.
Some other shit was going on, too. I don’t know if it is my fault, or maybe just the way the world is, but every single thing feels like a distraction from something else.
Luis did not feel that way, but I do not say it was a good thing. He had the straightest teeth I had ever seen, and he brushed them religiously. His dark hair was kept short, and he took vitamins every morning.
It took him so long to take them all.
Michael, perched on the edge of the escalator of some store he took me to. His family had money, and he never knew what it was to be without it.
The thing is, I always did like taking pills. This all happened after I stopped taking them, but I still liked them.
I never mentioned it to Luis, but Michael knew about my habit. He asked me what it was like, and I said that it was like I was a honeybee that finally found the nectar.
He said, “Did you know Russia doesn’t have honeybees?”
He knew a lot of little things, like how to wear a scarf and where to eat on Tuesday night.
Luis was not like that, although he was far from the creative type.
You can probably tell I have moved on from both these men.
I liked the idea of one telling me what I did not like about the other, but I knew they would find out about each other eventually.
OK, so Luis’ mother died. It was March, his hands were calloused from moving all the stuff out of her house and sanding down the floors. His mother was a smoker, and sometimes, but not all the time, she ashed on the floor.
I asked Luis how his mother could do that. Was there anything particularly difficult about an ashtray? Then I closed my mouth.
I wasn’t overly celebrating my sex life with either one of these men. That is not to say we did not have moments. They were both very serious people.
It is wonderful to think of life that way, like you are Anna Karenina or Hamlet, or both wrapped up into a sad package. I am not that type of person, so I aspire to be with someone who is like that, and stay nearby.
Michael’s dog was named Rye. He said that she was a willful dog. I threw out the golden’s collars. He didn’t need them anymore, but he thought he did.
It took me awhile, maybe a few cross-country trips, to realize I am a judgmental person. I think most people evaluate others on their words and deeds, which is a fine way of doing things, I’m sure.
I prefer to focus on what people are not doing or saying.
Let me start with Michael. He did tell me he loved me, but he did not do it all the time. He did not introduce me to his family until much later. He never prayed, he never shot pool, he never rode the bus.
All the straight rows of houses out here. It bothers me sometimes. It is fun to observe normal things only if you are irregular, which is the attraction of such drugs. I could have taken them forever, and on some level I wish I was taking them now.
Luis’ mother developed lung cancer. It progressed rather quickly.
He never held out much hope.
He did not know how to drive, he had a horrible sense of direction, he never wore jeans, never drank coffee after noon. He never said, “I love you,” but honestly he did not have to, and it would have ruined things.
I don’t have the energy for another flight. I actually still take drugs, just none that are any fun, except klonopin, which makes me feel like a bean bag.
I miss Luis, and probably the Michael I am writing about a bit more. I think they both knew they were not the only one, and that ruined things.
I admire people who can keep such things separate in their mind, discrete partitions of experience. I find myself going back there, stretching through the flimsy walls. I would not like to be a man.
B.H. Dansforth is a contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in New Jersey.