I'm not sure what I'm doing, let alone the how, except maybe how I talk to your motionless silhouette to find out if I sound the same in the dead of the night, if you smile in your sleep, and how long spring takes to come if you stay up every night. Occasionally I remind myself to mark out your birthday on my calendar.
I can't remember when it is now. And when it was then, too, although I was pretty sure it was a Sunday when we walked through the park and fireworks exploded above our heads and lovers waltzed around us and I asked you if I could kiss you and you said shly, you didn't need to ask, and I slanted my mouth above yours and I woke up and you told me to get back to sleep irritably, I have a long day at work tomorrow. You sleep more soundly nowadays.
If you wanted I could write you letters. I could get you a dozen flowers in a stunning bouquet and sing you "Happy Birthday" the moment you answered your door, but you always thought I overdid things, and I make you embarrassed and mortified if the whole street claps and cheers when I serenade you off-tune from the pavement - it's not like you don't have a balcony, but I guess your potted plants are really cool. Global warming, and all that.
So you're the one said that there are no rules to follow when I first discovered that I loved - oh fine, that I liked you. When I showed up in a tux on Valentine's Day you said that all the French restaurants in town are packed full with fools and told me to change into a t-shirt and boxers because you wanted to watch Bring It On again on your TV. Besides, why celebrate the birthday of some dead bloke who interfered in the private lives of other people?
Yeah, it's fine that you were overseas when my birthday came, because birthdays are really stupid and you could have a perfectly smashing time all the other 364 days of the year and it wouldn't make the slightest difference. So I got all my friends over and we played stupid games like musical chairs and downed all the booze and blasted the Yeah Yeah Yeahs so loudly that the family next door threw coke bottles at us. And when they sang that same old song I couldn't think of what to wish? because I wanted you, I wanted you like a flickering candle flame and I'm afraid that if I blew it out there will be nothing left.
But they kept shouting for me to get it over and done with so I decided to go with the flow, and it was actually pretty cool? That moment of darkness before the lights come back on and everybody cheers and one dude I knew from college shouts out, "Jeez, old boy, you sprayed spittle all over the cake!" and we all laugh about it and go back to singing stupid songs and toasting stupid things until they all go home and I wait for you to come home and scold me for all that mess, and tell me not to invite my friends over again because they are all such deadly bores.
Are you going to ask me what I wished for?
You know what? I realised why I care so much about birthdays - because people have to care. On the other three hundred and sixty four days it doesn't make any difference if ants got into the jam, if the cashier at the cafe was rude, and after those shitty days we can laugh and say, "Look, another one bites the dust." But on birthdays people remember to give you presents, and they sing you songs. You can't screw it up anymore.
I wished that I would want you again. To say solemnly, "I am very much in like with you," and laugh. To feel my stomach squirming when I hear your voice on the phone. I want to be hopelessly smitten, and invariably hopeful again.
But I know the stage where I don't know your top five movies of all time are over, and the next stage where I will channel-surf and see that this movie is on TV, and think, Oh, I watched that with you - that stage is not yet here. For now I sit up against the headboard and imagine blue light framing your face – the sort people use when they want to depict nighttime in movies. It doesn't quite work.
You grunt, and turn over.
I'm about to bid you good night and turn in again, and then I wonder why good night always means farewell, as though when we sleep we are leaving each other. Do you dream, and what are you dreaming of as I sit here next to you? Why is it that in the morning there's always more distance between us than when we fell asleep? Is it as easy to fall asleep as it is to fall ... fall in like - tumbling headlong, violently, into a well and then after a year of groping in the darkness finding that you've found your way out, but you're more lost than you were before?
But there are no answers to these questions because I won't ask them, like how I won't tell you that I hate pretzels and you will keep buying them for me every day after work. Like how I can't decide whether I should eat them or throw them away, and I end up eating half and throwing the rest away. Like how you eventually sign me up for a seminar on eating disorders.
Tonight some teenagers are slumming around downstairs. They light candles and arrange them in the shape of a heart on the pavement, and they sing Happy Birthday racuously. The name of the birthday boy/girl is muffled, but there is plenty of cheering and already the tight-arse lady across the street is stepping on her balcony to scream at them.
Still you sleep on, and the night grows old.
"no, this is how it works:
you peer inside yourself
you take the things you like
& try to love the things you took
& then you take that love you made
& stick it into some
someone else's heart
pumping someone else's blood
& walking arm in arm
you hope it don't get harmed
but even if it does
you'll just do it all again."
- regina spektor, on the radio.
A/N: Inspired by the the Sylvia Plath poem of the same name, references are arife from Augusten Burroughs' Sellevision & Nick Hornby's High Fidelity, & credit goes to you & me & nearly everyone we know. I'm sorry this took so long. I didn't know how to end it.