I drove past the street where you lived. I had to pull over to think of you, of the way you bent and moved. Of the way you found a street that duplicated the trajectory of your thoughts.
It is crooked still. It begins or ends as an acute angle jutting from the boulevard and wends its way westward (or east, depending which end of it you are standing on). Being crooked alone is insufficient, however; it also detours around a dent, a furrow, a sleepy depression that is no longer visible save to the grass that still grows beneath the concrete.
Yes, the street is still crooked, and you are still gone.
I never could straighten your bends. Then again, I never really tried. I guess that’s why we’re still friends. Or would be if I hadn’t accidentally deleted the only email account that contained your address; if I had thought to look in the secret folder where Facebook collects my former All with my current Sundry.
But I did not look, nor did I preserve what I had. I failed on both accounts, and so you remain MIA.
But where the fuck did you go? Seriously kid—you are gone. One brief mention of you in an online journal, and after that? Up in motherfucking smoke.
The feds would be jealous; no one disappears like that. Not anymore.
So I tried a new tactic to conjure the taste of your words in my mouth, your words in my ear, your heart in my hand; I made a list of all the things I no longer loved about you when we fell apart for good. Not terribly romantic, but then again, we never were.
Besides, we’re long over, and that’s made my list smaller than could be, smaller than would be when the smell of you was fresh and you lived on the crooked street in what you referred to as the heart of this city.
But this city is legion; one heart cannot bleed for us all.
My list came down to essential things: I didn’t feel like fucking just then, the space between us grew too small, I required vast swaths of air untainted by your own expulsions. And you—you constantly threatened to blow my cover, what with your shabby vestments and unkempt hair. Body and face—you let them run as wild as your words, as your gesticulations. You made folks curious, and curiosity brings attention.
I could no longer ghost my way along city streets or fall into step unnoticed.
You made me visible. You made me prime.
I cannot stand the weight of visibility nor the pressure of being prime. I cannot fall to my knees in sublimation or prayer whilst precariously balanced on anything higher than the wedge of my heel.
You never mastered the art of lowering your voice in public. I could not hide whilst in your presence. I could not observe, discreetly, nor take notes of the most useful and poetic order. If I sound stiff and ungrateful it is only because I am preoccupied with finding redemption in this rambling ode to your lack of graces.
Nothing about you is anonymous. Except your actual presence.
But still, still—you are not to be dismissed. I do not wish to dismiss you. And if I was ever ‘____ ‘ it was with you.
I say if ever it’s because, because, because I am an evader, a liar, a thief. I know it was you, that while it was ever a question it was also a fact.
We became friends on that crooked street that wends its way east (or west, depending on your point of view). We saved the best and ditched the rest. It is the only course of action for people like us.
I am unbalanced by that which shouts me down in oblivious joy for the privilege of being alive. I live in a whisper that swells to a holler only occasionally. I knew even then that neither of us should change, that we should not break our backs nor rip tendon from bone to squeeze ourselves into available spaces belonging to the other.
So the street remains crooked. And you remain gone.
For now anyway.