what I mean when I talk about getting married
The last time we talked about getting married, it ended this way: We need rights, not rites, and I agreed. We called it by so many names: Protection under law, assurance from this government. Something to hold on to, so that when the time comes we can say, This is completely legal; I can do this in her behalf, she is my wife. (I can sign on this line; we’ve made a life together, I can fucking sign on a line.)
But that’s for when we are older; right now, we are young, and these things in my chest need to find a way out. This is where I say: What I feel for you is so great I need to shout: from mountaintops, out into the ocean, over valleys and into caves.
People need to know: This love is probably driving me insane. Sometimes, when I see two cats walking side-by-side I find myself laughing, remembering you.
Right now, this love needs expressing. Sometimes it makes me want to just get down on my knees and.
Scrap that. I’ll stay on my toes; that’s what you do when you’re paying attention.
Very little has been written, you see; paying attention takes too much of my time, and by the time I’ve had my fill of the details, my hands are already preoccupied, and can’t be bothered to lift a pen. All too often: my fingers are busy navigating through knotted points on your shoulder. Or, they are idly standing by, resting on top of your thigh. Or, they are wrapped around your wrist lightly, fingertips deciphering your pulse like Morse code.
Maybe we have run out of words; the old ones, I mean, I have seen them run from me. The other day, an old girlfriend got married using an old metaphor on two wheels, and I said, I loved that metaphor, once, and decided she can have it, basket and all. She can take the grassy field; she can take the old campus I once knew so well. She can take the smell of mid-July rain off pavements I had once thrown cigarette butts on, the quiet lobbies of the old campus cinemas — because she deserves all of it. All of it’s from so long ago, I can’t even remember the feeling, just the words: We could have. Now just a handful of old letters sitting beside each other quietly, not speaking. It is sad in a way I don’t expect.
In my head, I wanted to write something about going home to my father’s house and hearing about an old hangout being burned to the ground. I can imagine driving to the newly emptied lot and thinking, This used to be my playground. This used to be that old wreck. This used to be that place I’d come back to time and again to reclaim a time of innocence. In it, my father would say things like, You broke your bike beyond repair the last time you were here. And I would laugh, sawing off the handle bars later. In my head, it ends this way: I’m alighting from the car, I’m taking the handle bars from the back seat, I’m walking to the center of that old space, and planting it there. From afar, it looks like a bike, only it’s half-buried in mud.
Maybe the old words have indeed run out; these days, I find that I don’t need them.
This morning when I woke, I was alone in bed, and I had slept with my glasses on. When I drew the curtains and opened the windows, I saw the sky was blue, and the clouds were white, and the birds were back on our windowsill, singing.
Right now, it is past noon, and the air is still warm like summer and I’m thinking, Everything is just better with you.
I am waiting for you to come home, not to these words, but to me. And that, I think, is all I mean whenever I say, Let’s get married.