Thursday, January 19, 2012


My ex-boyfriend gave me a book a long time ago back when we were together, telling me it had great meaning for him, a reflection on how he lived his life. I never read it and now that we stopped speaking it was time to return it to him, why was it so difficult, I had struggled with its return for weeks.

Was there some insight into his psyche that I had missed? Would it unlock some mystery as to why he could never say he loved me? I knew he did, I could feel it when he looked at me, the way he spoke to me; he’d said it twice, but retracted it, denied it, I wished he’d never said it at all. I needed to hear those words from him, from someone; finally I decided to give up and let him go once and for all, it had been eleven years.

The book was ancient, hardcover, bound, yellowed, possibly rare. Tossing it away seemed cruel, he’s asked for my assurance that I would one day return it, I had promised. I always keep my word, it was a thorn in my side, he’d let me down countless times and yet, I always had trouble letting go.

I decided to make one last trek over to his house, I would leave it outside, on his doorstep, no phone call or note. I rifled around in the kitchen and found a flimsy bag I got from some drugstore that i would normally use for trash, the morning coffee filter, tissues, pizza crusts - it would soon be home for his beloved book, it would be joined by his sister’s latest best seller. She had skyrocketed to fame by writing stories about their abusive childhood, she spun it into gold, a sweet fairytale, but I knew the truth - I fell in love with the damage, a man that could never really love back.

The drugstore bag was a sad beige color with black type that said, “thank you”. And inglorious parting sentiment, it almost seemed ironic, I thought perhaps I should choose another receptical, as I slipped both books into its sparse waterproof shell. I had started his sister’s novel, I found her style beautiful and grating in that I knew she reinvented tragedy, it was her version of her family history, but her truth nonetheless. But the other book, the one that held the secrets to my ex-boyfriend’s truth remained unopened by me. Was it that I hadn’t had my eye glass prescription renewed for several years, or was it fear of what I would find on those faded pages? Would it reveal a sweet Tom Sayer-esque tale, romanticizing his childhood days when he would scramble into town looking to roll a passed out drunk for change, or stay after the school bell rang to rifle through the lunchroom trash looking for something to eat while his mother hid under the covers at home, gorging on a Whitman’s Sampler she had bought with the dollar or two she might have used to buy some bologna and bread for her 3 hungry children?

I pulled the book from the sad “thank you” bag. It smelled like history, his house, the slim chance that I would finally make sense of my defunct love. I opened it and started to read the first paragraph, I was immediately drawn in to the prose. Simple, eloquent, a vortex. I placed it back where I had kept it on the top of my armoire, almost out of site, a sticking point, surely one day to be returned to my now "ex" boyfriend.

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