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  • Dear Cupcake:

    I would like to return to that secret place, the one you told me never to reveal. I want to sleep in that valley under a shade of a buckeye tree. I want to feel weightless like the wings of a wasp, so tender, like that river, that warm water up to my waist. That entire day we saw not a single person. The bright light of the afternoon, the river becoming platinum, placid. Oh, how I would like to step inside of memory, and touch again the back of your neck, the scent of sun block on my hands, the warmth of your skin.

    Do you remember also that time we went to that jazz club in New York, it had been raining, and we snuck inside, it was a dark basement, sepia tone, leather chairs, there were only a few people, a Tuesday night, and there was a woman who was singing, some torch song, the crooning of a saxophone, now and then, we could even hear, the thunder, which synchronized so well with the drumming. I still remember the color of her dress, this vivid red, anthurium red, cardinal red. And when she sang, sometimes she would close her eyes, and you could feel her heart breaking with every slide of her voice, she conveyed the fragility of love, so easy to lose, so hard to find.

    I feel like her today. I feel tired. I feel old. I feel this metal inside of me, it is sharp and hard, unforgiving. And I don’t know how to sheathe it, all these years, it’s become a habit, clinging to that sword of despair, the armor of nostalgia.

    I went out last night to a new club that just opened in SOMA. After an hour, I felt so weary, the drag performances, the beautiful bartenders, the young crowd, the music, everything was a spectacle, and yet I felt this tedium, like watching a re-run of a show that you once enjoyed but now find stale. I left after an hour and walked back home through the deserted streets, the empty warehouses, near the highway overpass, the homeless had gathered, they were burning trash.

    And so things change. Even the river that we loved, our secret place, last year when I returned, it was no longer the same. They had built a trail, and now it is crowded, with teenagers who use it to quench from the heat of the summer.

    And so things change. What is familiar is now inscrutable. I still have my memories, but how long will they last, and when I am gone, who will ever know our story or even care, for our story is not some heroic epic, but a story of ordinary lives: once there were two men who loved each other, two men who swam in a secret river, two men who saw a woman in a red dress singing in a half-empty basement on a rainy night.

    And so perhaps this is the reason I write: to preserve the past, to extend the half-life of memory just a little longer, so that even when I am no longer here, these words will still remember.


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