A heinous note was left on my door by my downstairs neighbors this morning. I threw it out, but it read something like:
I woke up to find cigarette ash all over my balcony. This has become a regular occurrence, and my husband and I are disgusted. This morning I found ash on our new seat cushions. My sister-in-law bought them for us as an anniversary present! They were flown in from Southeast Asia! This is unacceptable!!! First of all, you should not be smoking. Smoking kills. But if you do, how about you use an ashtray like everyone else. This is your final warning before I contact management.
They’re older, not elderly, but older. I think you’ve met them. I don’t care for them really. There always in the lobby complaining about something, about the weather or the president or a certain minority group. So I don’t really care if I dump ash all over their oriental cushions that were woven in Nirvana and kissed by the Dalai Lama. But this isn’t what I wanted to write. I don’t know why I brought it up, it only enforces your impression of my bitterness.
Your flight took off yesterday evening, I’ll assume you were on it. Haley mentioned it last night at Shula’s, that’s how I know. The only feeling I could conjure was apathy. It’s childish not to care, I do care, but my thoughts about it end up mingled into this general and unexplainable nothingness. But I’ll try to explain it anyway.
I stopped writing, it makes me sick, like drinking Ortiz’s homemade rum on an empty stomach and on some convulsing whaler. And without you here I don’t know if it will make me sane or crazy. You know I have this fear of being unoriginal, this phobia that burns a constant and depleting depression. I could pour over a thesaurus for days to describe what you are, but those empty synonyms of beauty have already been used, thrown up on every dismal piece of paper that was in the way of some tantrum of self-pity, and if I were to write them I would be crawling in the long-falling shadows of the pathetic and the hopeless. And so I will try to explain that your absence, the nothingness, is like the sleet that falls on cheap suits of sold-out bankers who stand smoking in Manhattan, like the strong-tempered rain that now tackles the boardwalk outside my window. It’s like blown back palms, like glass bottles in the hands of drunks who sit on broken benches under streetlights that sprout bent and disgusting, like the silent still darkness between the bright of each drumbeat cast by offshore thunderstorms, like the impartialness of undertow on the beach. It’s like an ice storm torturing this red balloon, taking calculated steps to keep it intact.
And on every drift I take across some Coastguard grave I would like to remain in the deep ocean currents and carry on into the bare blue empty and forget that my body will at some time rise drunk and bloated to the sun-stained swells above.
But I understand why you left. These islands are sinking. An unforgivable cliche, but I will use it anyway because I drag the flotsam of your house’s seawall back to its trenches every morning, only to watch the rising tide hang it back up on the mangroves every afternoon. It’s one ritual that I promise to keep.