I remember you liked to take naps on the little bit of carpet on the stairs in the garage that leads to the back door of the house. I suppose you felt like you could hear your humans better and the carpet must be comfortable to lie on. Mom didn’t like the idea of you inside the house, so the unfinished basement it was, just for you to call a little home of your own. (I know it was a huge improvement from the CoMO apartment you lived in with me, as much as I missed my humble abode two hours away, or an hour and a half if I drive fast.) It’s been over a year since you’ve been gone, but I still avoid stepping on that spot as I see you curled up all cozy on the carpet, looking all peaceful like everything is fine in the world. I never wanted to ruin that little bit of Heaven for you. I’m so glad you missed all this virus craziness, though I’d imagine the only way it would have affected you is seeing me home more than usual. Looking at that spot now tugs at my heart and I know you could never be replaced, but I don’t want to ever fill that spot. That is yours, my black and white ball of fur. I’ll miss you for always, but I want it that way.
Every now and then a little spiciness is good for the soul. I like to have something Szechuan to remind me I’m alive in this world and still breathing. Ice cream is great to have on hand in case things go very wrong. Or milk. It’s the milk that makes things better. Since I’m not from that part of China, I don’t have to have spicy all the time and I’m certainly not used to it. So when I do order some from my favorite Szechuan restaurant in town, it’s a treat for my soul. I remember being seven and told by my dad to try a piece of a big, fat, green pepper (I honestly don’t even know what this pepper was called, just that it was big, fat, and green) that he told me wasn’t that spicy and really was once I tried it. Now, maybe it wasn’t that spicy for adults, but it was super hot for a seven-year-old! I also remember sharing this story in one of my writing classes and describing the way my dad observed me with “tricky eyes.” I ended up jumping up and down, which ironically, is also a level of spiciness described in China, and then running to the faucet to stick my tongue under there. My dad laughed and laughed. Someone in my writing class liked my use of “tricky eyes” during workshop hour and I appreciated the compliment. I don’t know, but it seems any time I have spicy foods now I think of that moment in class, which makes me think back to the memory of my dad in that moment of my childhood. He’s gone, but spiciness brings him back.
I don’t measure the temperature outside based on a thermometer reading. I measure based on how many layers I have to put on to feel warm. It was so cold this week I wore 4-5 layers underneath a hoodie to work each day. Plus leg warmers underneath jeans. And my big thick winter boots. I forgot my beanie though. I shall remember that for next week. Our office manager said the heating in the office was turned up as high as it could possibly go. Yet just about everyone in the office still felt frozen and lacking feeling in their toes. I don’t blame the heating system in our building. I wouldn’t want to work on really freezing days like these either. But apparently I do anyway. The sad thing is I’m sure this is not the coldest it has ever been anywhere. I’m a girl in moderation. I don’t get along very well on either extreme side of the thermometer. I like having four seasons, but I don’t like dealing with snow and ice on the roads. Snow is pretty to look at on bare tree branches, but not fun to look at when the sun is shining on it. I suppose if I had to pick, I’d rather go with the heat than the cold. Taking layers off seems like stripping down humanity to the Adam and Eve days. I like the idea of going back to basics.
I could have stayed while you helped me find a job near you in the city, but I chose not to, moved back home and left a possible heartache waiting to happen. But then again, you have never stopped being my friend completely and I have always felt safe and comfortable around you, so there’s that.
Our lives mirror each other, with mine copying yours right after, but this time I didn’t have a baby right after you did. Now your boy’s growing up and there will always be a part of me that really wants to re-connect with you again, but my heart stops me right before I reach out to you. The beating in my chest knows like a little hummingbird that I wouldn’t be able to talk long before I had to leave again.
You said you liked the feel of the big ones. You wanted me to try a cig at a frat party once after our big split, but instead I spitted out some words from my research on secondhand smoke and lung cancer then tried to put a positive spin on it when I saw the look on your face and the look on the guy’s face, your flavor of the week.
You said your parents compared you to me and you resented me for that. I felt terrible knowing this was happening to you, but still you wanted to stay with me for spring break as you introduced me to your boyfriend and friends at university and then never talk to me again. You didn’t plan it that way, but it just happened. Now all I can think about is all your sexy stories you told me during that time.
I miss everything about you, even that time in fifth grade when I tried teaching you how we could walk through walls one day just because of It. It was meditation because what else would it be? You always remembered my birthday and it’s a quality I’m going to miss in future yous from now on.
I should have made it clear I understood you have no intentions with me and I accept you for who you are, even while you have trouble sharing with your family who you are, but I didn’t. Now I just miss you while you live states away, but you did buy a copy of my book and come support me at my very first author outing, so there’s that.
Every time I see your posts on Facebook, I know you’re going to make me smile because that’s what you do. You made me smile big while we were at university together and I was going through my darkest time. I don’t know how to thank you for that, but I do enjoy your cooking and painting and baby pictures. Mmm mmm good.
I still have the image of you smiling with a 2-liter bottle of Surge dancing on your head in my mind. We had just come back from “Titanic” and going to the movies is one of your most favorite things to do. Now you are out there saving lives and I hope to God you are doing okay.
We write letters now because I randomly reached out to you one time. You’re like a daughter to me as well and I’m so proud of all you’ve accomplished so far. Now you have an actual daughter with the most loving husband anyone can ask for and I’m loving the pictures you are sending me of her.
I can summarize us in one word: AIM. You loved that thing and you would probably still be on that thing now if AOL hadn’t shut it down. That thing is how we bonded and grew and became so close later on post-elementary school. You told me you want me to look in the mirror every day and say, “Any guy would be damn lucky to have me.” It’s because of you that I believe this and am grateful for you pushing me to see the things about me I never saw just for not trying.