open letter to the you part of us

Dear You Part of Us:

I don’t know how to write this properly, because there are thoughts and feelings swirling around like a tidepool inside as they often do, and I want to write so much but words cannot keep up. I will begin at the beginning.

When we sat at the cocktail party last night and the couple across from us asked, “How did you two meet?” and you made the typing motion with your beautiful hands, a half-smile on your face, I thought how remarkable it must be, again, to find you, to be found by you, after such a string of unremarkable coincidences.

Every time you said “we” I wriggled inside myself. We cold-smoked some onions and peppers and ribs last weekend. We are going to Vancouver next month. We saw that movie and really liked it. I’m a part of a we, genuinely, not a one part possessing the other part but two halves.

We went to the ocean on Saturday and I watched you lift and let go of that corroded iron ring on the wall, listening to its clank with a satisfied “hah!” The fog kept you from my sight for moments at a time, but I could listen for you and know just where you were.

Before that, you took care of the messy incident, the one that left me bereft and alone; your voice tugged on my sadness and said okay already. It sucks but it happens to all of us, for no reason, and life goes on. We go on. Let’s fix this and not worry about it a second longer.

Let us fix this. Us.

What upset me most about the broken window on Friday was that there were poems inside that stolen notebook for you, about you, that I never got to read to you. They were little shacks of sentiment, but I was about to give them fresh coats of paint and move furniture into them and show them how you moved in and made them alive. And now they are gone; I turn the corner, expecting to see them, and they’re gone, not even the grass turned down to show where they once sat.

I told you that the Sun moving into Leo was difficult for me, every year. It is my worst time because it forces me to address my ego, and not “ego” as it has come to mean, but its purest expression: the idea of self. I don’t know more than I know, about myself, about the world. About you. About us. I don’t know why things happen and when I don’t know, they make me feel foolish and embarrassed. I avoid them; I have avoided you. You and your consistent face toward the world. You intimidate me sometimes. I wish I could be as solid, as assured, but instead there is high tide and low tide and what they throw upon the beach or drag down underneath to darkness still remains a mystery to me. It might always.

I haven’t a clue what to do with your love except take it. I’ve known all kinds of love, but yours pries apart the foolishness, licks warmth into the insecurity, settles and cleanses. Sometimes I am angry with you for how you love me. How counterintuitive, you say, but you accept that it exists. And you wait.

Whatever I could write is a withered husk of what exists between us. Us: that word again. I used to fear it, believing that when two people became an us it meant each of them diminished. Now I see how wrong I was. Now I see, whenever I open my eyes marked by tears, that you are right here.

And I, despite being obscured by seaweed and strong currents, am too. The other part of us. Right here.

Yours, Halsted.

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I acknowledge that I live and work on stolen Cowlitz, Clackamas, Atfalati, and Kalapuya land.
I give respect and reverence to those who came before me.