Wednesday, January 18, 2006

To Tim, from Steve

I have a black, wire mesh inbox on my desk where people put faxes and papers to sign. I used to get such a feeling of satisfaction from looking at the box and seeing it empty; it meant that I had finished my work for the day, that I had accomplished everything I set out to.

Now, I like seeing it full. I get nervous when there are only two or three pages left, because when the work is gone, my mind will wander and I'll think of you.

The other day I was cleaning my kitchen and I saw a little white piece of paper underneath the dishwasher. I picked it up, and it broke in two in my hand. It wasn't paper; it was a tiny piece of an eggshell.

I don't eat eggs. The eggshell was from a Saturday before Thanksgiving, when you came over and we made cookies from scratch. It's funny how something so small brought back so many memories.

We were like two kids, laughing and smearing each other's faces with flour. I didn't appreciate it when it was happening; I just assumed that every Saturday would be the same, forever. Now, the kitchen table we made the cookies on is clean and shiny, all the flour is gone from the floor and the cookie sheet is spotless, with no trace anywhere of our time together, except for that tiny little shell that I missed.

I examined the whole house, like Gil Grissom from CSI, digging up reminders of you: A note you made on my wall calendar; a curtain you adjusted in the dining room; the "hi babe" you wrote on my bathroom mirror with your finger, that still shows up faintly when the shower steam hits it.

I am a proud man. I am happy that, until now, no one has truly gotten to me, and part of me wants to stay that way. But you have gotten to me, and all I want to do is to tell you, to see you, to be in the same room as you so that everything can be the way it used to be. That would make it ok, wouldn't it? Being face to face again? We would talk, and make dirty jokes, and maybe we'd fight. But we would find a way through it.

I've been thinking lately about growing old. I've never thought about that before. I know this is corny, but I've actually imagined us driving a minivan with three little kids screaming in the back seat, spilling apple juice everywhere. (Actually, forget that last part - they wouldn't be allowed to drink in the car).

The point is, you make me happy, and you make me comfortable. I can relax with you; I can let my guard down and think about the future. It all seems so easy with you; I don't have to try at all. It just works.

Losing you wouldn't hurt me so much if it had ended differently. Neither one of us got caught selling steroids or screwing underage gardeners (though you did seem to be infatuated with that kid behind the counter at Dunkin' Donuts). I lost my temper over something stupid, and I didn't talk it over with you when you wanted to. Looking back on it, it seems so stupid. If I had another chance, I'd never let you go again.

For once, work seems like a distraction. Sitting at my desk feels like a waste of time. I don't care who's on hold for me, or what report has to get done before I go home. Sometimes, I just want to run out of here and find you at a catering job, in your apron and your do-rag, and drive us off somewhere, where we can run a fruit stand and go to bed early every night. (Actually, in this part of the country, fruit would be subject to seasonal downturns. Maybe costume jewelry would work better. But we can work out the details later.)

I hope that you can forgive me, and I hope we can give this another try. Because if we don't, I'm going to need a bigger inbox.

I love you,