It’s Halloween and Queens is full of kids in skeleton costumes and rubber masks that distort their faces into terrifying shapes; they squeal at us as we drive by, weaving past the holiday traffic. At the airport, Chris leans across the gearshift and kisses me, hard. Then he’s gone. I am reaching into the reel of my memory to recall the last things we said to each other, but I’ve already forgotten it. I know he called me little rabbit. I know I said, “Be good.”
Heading back to Brooklyn I turn on the radio as loud as it will go and roll the windows down so the breeze slaps my face. Maybe that’s why I miss my exit and find myself on the Williamsburg Bridge; I’m listening to—I don’t remember—Drake, probably—and all of a sudden I’m going into Manhattan.
I don’t like driving over bridges because it means I can’t look at the water beneath me and the skyline rushing past. That’s the only quiet moment we get in this city, I think, when we’re all forced to slow down: the squeak of reception on the train as it surfaces to the pale pink glimmer of city lights; sitting alone and drunk in the back of a cab or maybe not alone but still drunk, your legs in their lap, happy to get home to continue touching the person you adore. For a moment, my trajectory already diverted, I want to keep driving until the gas runs out, until I’m somewhere far away upstate and I can’t turn back again.
Then I turn left onto Bowery and head toward the Manhattan Bridge back to Brooklyn.
Two days before all this we’re at a party for a magazine and I’m holding a whiskey soda but I’m really drunk and I keep spilling it on my hand. I’m wearing a black dress that has a horizontal cutout right above where my ribs split; it’s the nicest thing I own. That night he ties my hands behind my back and it’s astonishing how much more bound I feel that way, how I feel like a beloved object. My cheek against the pillow, my mouth fallen open like a violet. Ass in the air, toes curling.
Three weeks before all this and as we’re hanging outside the bodega so my friend can buy cigarettes he tells me that he’s leaving for good this time. He says “Will you visit?” and I say yes of course and that night I can’t stop crying when we’re in bed. My eyes are puffy the next morning.
And almost six months before all this we’re meeting for the first time. It’s May and the nights are still cold and he buys me a drink and walks me home. And I am skittish as a deer. And the leaves are trembling dark green in the trees outside my window. And when I invite him up I’m not sure who he is or who he will be but I decide, deep in the middle of that night, which has both blurred and remained distinct in the daguerreotype that memory has made, that I like him because he looks beautiful when he’s sleeping.
It’s hard to describe a thing from inside it, from tight within a cocoon of feeling. A blood orange is golden on the outside; it’s startling when you peel it, that deep, garnet red. It bleeds when you cut in. Sometimes it’s bitter and sweet at the same time. A day goes by and it’s only a day and some nights my feet are cold and sometimes they’re warm. And then: a joy, a season. Everything happens so suddenly.
I have always endeavored to tell you the truth, which here is even more true than I have lived it, if something like that can be said. Here are simple things: what it looks like, how it feels, and how it unfolds. I know better than to write an ending when it’s really another turn in the round, and if I believe in anything it is in the continuity of all things, in the slow orbit of the planets and in large, complex patterns.
So let me write that time in its silver ellipse has always turned in rings. This is not over—I don’t think so, days will tell, and what is any interval if not a day and a night, or a succession of days and nights—and meanwhile, let me share with you what I can.