I don’t think that I’m the kind of person that lets go easily.
It is certainly the front that I put up. When I initially meet people, I don’t hesitate to reel off a list of cities I’ve come to, and left.. New York City. Los Angeles. Kansas City. After that followed Ho Chi Minh, Colombo, Reykjavik, Rome…
• • •
This guy I was seeing once got me a stack of business cards for Valentine’s Day. Under my name, he’d had printed: IDEALIST. “Just show this to anyone you meet, and they’ll understand you a bit more,” he explained. I agreed, then. I thought that the world was mine to explore—and reveling in newfound sexual freedom after a conservative upbringing, I thought I’d never slow down; that I’d never come down from the high.
But if the road is my religion, forgive me in my recent moments of weakness, when the world no longer seems to be full of horizons, only that of a swiftly approaching night. When the world no longer seems filled with love and possibility—only unfamiliar faces.
• • •
Because now, sometimes, I stay up all night, after. My eyes can’t drift shut. Not because I’m in love, but just because I want to grasp the simple bliss of sleeping next to someone, of burying my face in the curve of a shoulder.
I know that it’s dangerous to look back. Sometimes, I’ve fled from the scene, a refugee from impending attachment. But when I think back of the people that have come into my story, even for a night – I think of a quote by Pablo Neruda, a ten-word mantra that is perhaps the only reason why I can slip on my clothes as the city wakes and let myself out the door, why I can wave a jaunty good-bye out of a train window; why I can give a someone – backpack already slung over his shoulder- a parting smile, and mean it.
• • •
Let us forgive with generosity those who cannot love us.
• • •
This is why I write. Writing is my exorcism, my bloodletting – my way of forgiveness.
• • •
With words, I forgive you, for breathing my breath, for looking into my eyes, for sharing a pillow and having it not be enough, never enough to quench your thirst for the road, never enough to change your life.
Writing is my way of forgiving each pair of laughing eyes, each strong pair of hands that have combed through my hair and stroked my face and never picked up the phone to call me again—you who didn’t greet me at the airport, you who weren’t there in the middle of the night to quiet the pang of loneliness. Even wolves howl at the moon, sometimes—because it’s a big world and sometimes you just can’t sleep.
I forgive you for climbing a mountain with me at 6am in the morning, holding my heels in your hand; I forgive you for threading your hand through mine in the dark corner of a music hall, I forgive you for laughing affectionately as you watched me meticulously dissect my breakfast at a corner café. And then getting on a train, plane, car—and vanishing into memory, until I resurrected you again with my words.
• • •
I hope you forgive me, too.