Thursday, March 8, 2012

The end of missing someone

A story of then and now, of farewells and reunions: Then -- a walk through Athens, the first almond blossoms, dashing subways, Melina Merkouri watching over us, Vespas in the sunshine, wine and seafood in the sun under the Parthenon.

Four days ago
"HAHAHAHAHAHA! Did you eat....... garlic?"

I did, but I did not expect my brother to smell it on me the second I walked into his apartment. Garlic was a fundamental part of the last ode to Athens: a walk with Niki, wine, octopus and melitzanosalata with a generous portion of garlic for lunch in the shadow of the Acropolis.

"Well, let me email Elijah and tell him to bring a nose clip to the airport!," he joked. And proceeded to actually email him. I laughed and Moira the dog backed away from me. [My brother will still tell you it was because of the stench.]

71 days away from my love and on the day of the reunion I had melitzanosalata. There comes a point of solitude when it is simply you: your breath, your garlicky exhales, your certainty that nobody will be bothered by them. There also comes a point in beautiful companionship, a point of certainty that nobody will be bothered by garlic.
***
Four nights ago 
Nobody prepared me for the foreignness of it. I had spent 71 days in impatient anticipation, ranging from ecstatic jumping-out-of-my-skin to absent. The latter is the defining characteristic of long-distance love: Some of you is always somewhere else, daydreaming, wishing, missing, longing. You live for what Jonathan Safran Foer describes in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close as "the end of missing someone": 
I like the impatience ,the stories that the mouth cannot tell fast enough, the ears that aren't big enough, the eyes that can't take in all the change, I like the hugging, the bringing together, the end of missing someone. 
Nobody tells you that the end of missing someone will come with a foreign beginning. Those first kisses are like picking lips out of a line-up with your eyes closed: You know you recognize them, but they do not have that comforting familiarity of meeting your own lips every day. So, you kiss again, and again, and again. First in relief, then in disbelief, then in determination to kiss until it is no longer remarkable. To kiss with the knowledge that nobody is getting on a plane for a while again, that those lips will be there in the morning.
***
A story of then and now, of farewells and reunions: Now -- the first strawberries of spring and a walk through the Jerusalem open-air market. A return to beloved bread and the pita stand. Fingers intertwined, distance extinguished, love rekindled.

Between four nights ago and now
I am not easily silenced. I have agonized over developing a voice, over keeping it strong and letting it crack too. Rarely do words not fall out of me. But, perhaps, my poetry is one of distance and of solitude, of liminal states and of longing. Because, you see, I have no words to describe the time between that kiss at airport arrivals and now. I cannot even keep a diary of the And Then We Brushed Our Teeth variety. 

I know we ate until there was food coming out of our noses. We ate not out of hunger, but out of a desire to revisit every place we have loved here, every place we have made a memory. And we have not even had the fruit crumble yet.
I know we inaugurated the Jerusalem Picnic Society. Members: me and him. And labneh, pita, hummus, and strawberries.
I know nothing is more important to me now than love. I want to live a life with that as the governing force: works of love, relationships of love, words of love. Love is how I respond to the conflict, the strife, the loneliness, the states of liminality. "They" say that love distracts, that it is not quantifiable, that it does not feed a tummy, win a prize or create a legacy. In my heart, love cannot be a distraction in a life in which it is the central theme... in a life in which love is how we live and what we live for. Love is it when you love the person who wants to be remembered for "having loved well and a lot in life." 

I still cannot write the story of these days. I simply want to live it. Love is robbing me of words and it is the most welcome thief. Let us have love. The words can wait.

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