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  • Dear Tiger,

    The day we met, you and your fellow Aussie stopped by to visit my roommate, the Tokyo Rose, and I just happened to be there. Years later, you narrated this instance back to me via email. "You were typing on your laptop and had your back to me. Your hair was pulled back and you were wearing a pink sweater. I remember your room, the gilt Japanese wedding fan on the wall, your down quilt. You were the most prepared to deal with extreme Lake Effect winters..."

    I have an entire chapter of journal entries devoted to you. Our first meeting. Each and every fight. The way the skin on the back of my neck prickled when you stared at me across any room. That weekend in Montreal and your confession - "I wanted to elope with you." Crying inconsolably in the bathroom of a dive bar two nights before you left. That ridiculous cinematic cliche of saying goodbye and watching you vanish behind closing elevator doors. I wrote two perfectly bookended juvenilia poems too, one from the beginning and one from the end. This is a bit of the last one:

    look, i can't make myself stop
    it still circles back to --

    it's when i wake
    body still smoothed from sleep
    like a seal, that i think of myself
    kneaded, with a "k" or not?
    between your fingers
    eyelash, wrist, and hip rolling through
    as rosary beads: ave, ave

    I ran to you the next time I got my heart broken, because you knew, you knew that it was difficult for me to let people in. "You should never be afraid to tell people how you feel," you said, the last time I saw you in person. I've worked so hard since then. I've trusted so much and hoped for so much from subsequent lovers. You, however, have settled down. Your wife is a beautiful blonde with Slavic features like yours.

    Though I am tempted to ask for your insight once more, I think that asking you intimate questions would no longer be appropriate. (Why doesn't it get any easier? What if every relationship, for me, is like knocking on the door of every heart looking for my twin soul - "Is it you? Is it you?" Will I meet this person, will I be able to recognize him the way I recognized you?)

    I gave you up because I wanted to join the land of the living in Boston. Circumstances dictated that I couldn't visit you and that you couldn't visit me, and so...what then? Another year of extreme long distance: emails, videos, phone calls, photos, promises, dreams. I lost faith. It was me. I was the bad one. I left you so I could live my life.

    But I'm happy that you're happy. Really, I am. I'm glad that every once in a while I can write you to say "Happy Birthday," or to ask if my traveling friend can meet up with your cousin in Prague. And when you write back "How the hell are you??" I can hear the sudden warmth and excitement in your otherwise lazy drawl.

    Mary Jane

    [Image source: Photo by Clementine, probably.]
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