Had we but world enough, and time …


Budapest is lovely – a lovely and odd city, moving forward yet still mired in Communist influence and evidence. It boasts quite an assortment of memorials to darker times, the Holocaust, the revolutions of ’56 and ’89, and so on. Some of the architecture is breathtaking – some is old and gray and full of sleep, some is blocky and oppressive, much as life apparently was during the Soviet occupation (this, according to our lovely tour guide who showed us around the city one day and to the small artist’s colony of Szentendre another). And now we’re in Paris, which feels more like “home” – though every trip I’ve taken here has been marked by entirely different details, the people in my life, the purpose of my visit, the events therein.

And still he is absent and so I have to accept that he is absent from my life, period. This is hard to accept because it all went down in such a strange way, but I guess there aren’t many conventional ways to  vanish from one’s girlfriend’s life.

It has been a very long time since I’ve not been someone’s girlfriend and I know that this is good for me. But I also know what I think I want the future to hold, and so every not-quite-right and absolutely wrong connection I make pulls more taut the wire that I fear will eventually cut through my chances for “happiness”. I’ve been doing fairly well this trip, averaging a meltdown a day in the privacy of my own room, with a good friend to lean on; neither of us sleep well so we seem to find each other in the wee small hours.

Oh darling, my darling, my lost boy who couldn’t love me any more, or who couldn’t accept my love, or who just doesn’t know where who what or why he is, or who never loved me in the first place, or who is lying in Potter’s field like Gaudi, a brilliant man left anonymous in his death – I really did love you. I knew it wouldn’t work in the long run but this isn’t how it’s meant to end. Open-ended, my feelings vacillating between heartbreak and ire, sadness and bewilderment, hope and incredulity. And what of this gift that’s meant to arrive for you? I’ll still give it to you – it’s for your safety, after all. Yes, it’s poetic irony that the very one I’ve tried to keep safe is the one who’s slipped away in the night and refuses to be found.

Will I ever see you again? Do I want to? Yes, I do. My friends think I’m so much better off – they know that I am – and I do too. For the you-ness is fading since I’ve been away, to be replaced by the idea of you, by absence of you and by craving your flesh and touch and the glimmers of truth I was determined to see in you.

Perhaps I’ve been wrong my entire life, perhaps there won’t be a happy ending. I’ll be home next week with no human who loves me in the way that I want to be loved, no one who wants to just hug me and lie with me and not have to talk, no one who wants to know everything but doesn’t need to hear anything to breathe me in. There will be others, I’m sure there will be. But an ending like this, a lack-there-of that leaves me in fear and in tears and with nothing close to an answer, this is new territory for me and I don’t know at all how to navigate it. I still have faith that I’ll learn the way, that I’ll find the answers, and that the love that I want is not out of reach. But you, beautiful man, you’ve broken my heart in the weirdest of ways.

Yesterday, I’ve learned, is the anniversary of the day in 1327 that Petrarch first laid eyes on his Laura, his obsession, the unanswered love who inspired him to write some of the most beautiful words committed to language.

So happy anniversary, dear Laura; would that we all could be so deeply loved.

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