Thursday, May 1, 2014

Day 29: (You, Gareth. You.)

March 29, 2014

(I shared this yesterday on Gareth's wall, but I know many of you here felt like you got to know him throughout my time here and may appreciate reading it.)

When my friend Adam died, I noticed that from time to time people would go on his facebook page and post things to him directly, me included. We'd talk to him. Tell him we were thinking about him. Share stories that we remembered. The same thing happened when my cousin Jessica died last year. A strange digital age we live in now, and I remember you and I talking about that.

It's comforting to have a place where so much of you still exists- photos, videos, audio, friends and family from your entire lifetime. It's comforting to write the word "you" and not "he/him." I remember watching you sit across the table from me once and you were writing/reading a poem you wrote for me. It occurred to me on a really deep level that when you said "you" in that poem, you were talking about me, and it made that small word the most beautiful thing I've ever heard. I told you at that moment that it meant so much to be "the you of your words"- which, of course, you later made into another poem.

You. I remember doing the dishes in our apartment and you coming up behind me. Holding me. Kissing my head. "Is this ok? Does this bother you when I do this?" Are you kidding? "It helps me wash the dishes better," I said.

You. I remember the look on your face when you'd surprise me with things. Wildflowers picked from the side of the road waiting for me in the passenger seat of your car. Funny socks you bought when my head was turned and we were walking around town together. The pink blanket with the bunny ears attached to it. I'd often do a little hopping up and down in my excitement and you once told me that was one of the things that gave you the greatest pleasure in life- watching my joy grow. I had so much. I was often an explosion of joy.

You. I remember our feet being like little animated beings separate from our bodies. They'd find one another and wrestle. Play. Have things to say in waking moments or when drifting off to sleep. Your feet. That were always causing you so much trouble with their itchy parts.

You. I remember where specifically your back would hurt after long drives or in times of stress. Lower right. Tiger balm. You always said if you won the lottery you would pay for proper treatment. I'm glad I could bring relief, even if for small periods of time.

You. When you'd pose for the camera, you'd pull your jacket up, your head would disappear a bit inside of the space the turned collar would create, and you'd blow on your hands like it was cold. You'd rub them together and blow. Because it was cute and you knew it.

You. You loved that I'm a runner. You said you were impressed. You told me never to apologize for the state I was in after a long run. You said I was beautiful and that I smelled good. I didn't agree, but I believed that you saw me this way, and that felt amazing.

You. You split your favorite pants playing soccer once, and because you loved the design of the zippered pocket on the thigh so much, you cut it out and saved it- throwing away the pants. You used to hold it up to other pants and talk about how great it would be if you could just attach the pocket here. Or here. You loved that pocket. I found it in your apartment the day after you died.

You. You used to tell me my ponytail was having a party, because when it dries after washing, it often flew about and twisted and curled in directions beyond my control. You loved my red hair. You complimented my style. You loved that when I got passionate about something, I'd sound a little southern. You loved my "blackground" and wanted to pick up phrases from my cultural upbringing.

You. You had a perfect nose. I told you this, tracing its shape and watching the moonlight outline it in the middle of the night. How is it possible for a nose to be so perfect? I thought. I'm glad I told you this at the time.

You. There were moments, and many of them, when I was overcome by what a man you were. It's so funny to say that, and I told you that, aware at how ridiculous the words were. But it was true. You were sexy in your masculinity, and knowing that perhaps that wasn't always the way you were perceived in life, I take great happiness in knowing that I felt that way about you and told you often. You loved when I would tell you this. And I wasn't doing it to be kind. I did it when the feeling came over me, which was often.

You. You went away to Seoul for a conference and it was the first time we'd been apart since beginning to date. It was a good conference. And I had work to do back in Hadong. But the missing of each other was big, and as a poet and a writer we had a lot of words to trade about it. When you finally arrived home, late at night (you had missed your first train), I heard the keypad beep and I stood a couple of feet from the door on the "kissing step" to greet you. I was giddy and hopping up and down in place and the door opened and there you were. You set your bags down and we hugged. We hugged and we kissed and we made funny noises like two little animals who were reunited and were painfully excruciatingly happy to be with each other again. "This is pathetic!" we both said. "Seriously! Who DOES this?!" You did. I did. We did.

Today's been rough, Gareth. I was missing you in indescribable ways in the weeks before you died, and when you died, it all got rolled into one. I can't pass by things without thinking "Gareth would like that! I should get it for him!" or "That's exactly the kind of thing Gareth would buy and surprise me with." I miss you. I miss you tremendously and the one thing that I keep trying to remind myself of is that you are at peace. Isn't that all I or anyone else who loved and understood you wanted for you?

It is. And I imagine you with Nana, loving on you and embracing you in the ways we can't right now. I will lace up my running shoes for the first time in a month because you were so proud of me as a runner. I will show up for work and do the best job I can because you were so proud of me as a teacher. I will reach out to your friends and family and try to support them because you were so proud of my compassion for others. I will shower and I will show up places because you loved how I looked when we went out. I don't feel much like doing any of these things, actually. I don't. But it is what I will do because I miss you. And I love you. And I want you to still be proud.

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