Nov 29, 2012

This is how I know

Someone asked me this evening, not unkindly, how I know you're proud of me...and the answer slipped out easily, as easily as my own name or a weary sigh at the close of the day.  With some answers, you don't have to think - you just know.

"Because she told me so.  All the time."

Will you forgive me for using the past tense?  I had to, although it feels wrong; people give me strange looks when I use the present tense.  Won't you just come back?  This is so complicated; I've never had to think about my verb tenses before.

Long after the conversation had ended, my mind nervously padded back to that answer.  As is my habit, I examined its rounded corners, passed it from hand to hand, settled into its unadorned truth.  I wondered, suddenly uneasy: was that an honest response, Sonika, or are you just idealizing her now?  I decided that a walk was in order.  Maybe some fresh air along the river will calm you down, undo those knots that are already starting to corkscrew their way in.

This past month has shaped me into a distastefully panicky little thing whose shoulders knot up and beg for fresh air.  I've never needed walks before.  Have you been watching all of this unfold?

The bridge leading to the water's edge
I glanced back for but a moment, only to find the apartments shrouded in fog.
Although I know you're proud of the woman I am, I don't have many memories of you actually telling me that.  These days, precious few people understand the gravity of such words...and "I love you" has become a rarer gift than it ought to be.  But fret not; somehow, I still know - I know it in my bones.  There are so many ways to love, after all, and not all of them involve the spoken word.

Ruins by the river
Almost there...
Take the cards, for example.  What happiness it was, whenever I flipped the mailbox door and found an envelope with three stamps in the corner.

Those I-miss-you cards...oh, there was such excitement in those surprise reminders!  I suspect that you sent them solely to make me smile.

The just-because cards, plastered inside and out with jokes from the Bangalore Times.  (Only the corniest ones would do.)  I used to hold those cards in grateful hands and imagine you in your Chair, crafting a gift that was destined to fly thousands of miles.  I used to picture your scissors and glue stick on the kitchen table - the table where you always match the tablecloth to the placemats.  (The sunflower placemats are my favorites.)

And my birthday cards.  Every year, they always arrive right on time.  I still reread the notes you wrote me in cards from years I grew up, so many versions of "I love you", whispered around the edges of the Hallmark poems.  Your cursive is beautiful, especially to this girl who left third grade before she could finish learning her capital letters.  (That's why I print everything, by the way...)

I've kept every card you've ever sent me.  Every single one.  Most are stacked high inside a bookshelf, crammed for want of space.

My favorites, though, are set atop my dresser: love, displayed for all to see...

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