Glass Houses

The past couple of weeks I have found myself sneaking away from my life late at night when I know the people who will care about where I am are asleep. Unfortunately I have not been doing anything particularly exciting. I have been helping Mr. Wonderful pack and dispose of his possessions in preparation for his move.

Mr. Wonderful is moving to Chicago.

I didn’t really know how I felt about him leaving until the last time I was at his place.

We laid out across the bare floor in his living room, as we’d already sold or given away most of his furniture. He had these beautiful huge windows in his living room that we laid in front of, lights off, letting the moonlight collect in the empty angles of the room. We were on our backs, us foot to head, talking and laughing in the guarded shallow way one does when they know something is coming that is heavier than they wish to carry.

“When you were a kid what was the one biggest dream you always had?” he asks me abruptly.
“I always wanted to buy myself a house that was just for me. I wanted it to be in the mountains and I wanted the entire back of the house to be glass. There was the mountain lodge my mom and I used to go to when I was younger where the lodge was built right into the mountainside and the entire back was made of class from roof to foundation. It was peaceful. I thought that if I could only buy a glass house for myself then maybe I could have some peace.”

I smile at the memory, because I remember the little girl I was then, abundance of brown hair falling aimlessly from a helpless ribbon, running and singing through the trails, climbing trees, and talking to the animals. We are quiet for awhile, me thinking of the way I was and his thoughts impenetrable to me. After awhile he flips around, aligning himself beside me, his face in my hair, his hand tracing lazy trails up and down my spine.

“I’d like to be the person to buy you that glass house,” he says as my breath catches somewhere behind my ribs.
“That’s not the point. I don’t want anyone to buy it for me. I wanna buy it myself. I want it to be mine, something I was able to do just for me.” He laughs.
“You weren’t cursed with the Cinderella gene at all huh?” and we laugh, this a long standing point of derision between us because apparently, I am stubborn.

“But seriously,” he presses on, “if you’d let me, I’d get it for you. You deserve some kinda peace in your life.”

I smile at him, though he can’t see it as my head is turned away but I hope he can feel it, almost as much as I hope he can feel my trepidation to tread where I fear this conversation might be going.

“Do you think if I’d met you earlier-“
“Please stop,” I interrupt him before either of our thoughts can sink too far into the hypothetical and drive us both insane. We are quiet again for a very long time, my eyes on the city and wondering if anyone out there was experiencing an event as uniquely painful as this one. His hands move to play in my hair and he nuzzles the back of my neck, his words falling into the tangles of the curls, muffling the sound, but I hear every word.

“Sing to me,” he says, and I think maybe I hear tears on his voice but I don’t dare question him any more than I dare turn to face him for fear I might turn to stone.
“What do you wanna hear?”
“Anything. Everything. Sing whatever is on your heart.”

I think for a minute, not sure what to sing and then I decide that maybe it would be best if for once I lay myself open to the feeling rather than intellectualize everything to death. And so I sing, because he asked me to, because I want to fill the silence with something other than the impending implosion I think might be building. My voice rises high to the ceilings and echoes throughout the empty room, filling it with sound.

Love ridden I have looked at you
With the focus I gave to my birthday candles
I wished on the lidded blue flames
Under your brow
And baby
I wished for you
Nobody sees when you are lying in your bed
And I wanna crawl in with you
But I cry instead
I want your warm but it will only make me colder when it’s over
So I can’t tonight baby
No not baby anymore
If I need you I’ll just use your simple name
Only kisses on the cheek from now on
And in a little while we’ll only have to wave
My hand won’t hold you down no more
The path is clear to follow through
I’ve stood too long in the way of the door
And now I’m giving up on you
No not baby anymore
If I need you I’ll just use your simple name
Only kisses on the cheek from now on
And in a little while we’ll only have to wave

I fall silent and I feel goosebumps on my neck and arms. He is shivering, and he pulls me closer and kisses the back of my head through my hair.

“You’re not coming to Chicago are you?”

I shake my head and he sighs heavily and somewhere in my heart I know he has given up on me. I don’t know how I feel about it. A part of me wants to hold him, to beg him not to give up, to give me just a little more time to be the woman he sees in me. But most of me knows better and a bite my tongue until the skin ruptures and I feel the metallic taste of blood in my mouth.

“I want you to come.”
“I want to come.”
“But you won’t.”
“But you want to.”
“But you won’t. Why?”
“Because I shouldn’t. Please don’t push me.”
“We would be good together.”
“Yes we would.”
“You’re going to regret this.”
“I don’t regret what’s right.”

We’re silent again. I don’t know what his silence means but mine is because I am scared to speak for fear that words will betray the fist- sized knot in my throat I am trying unsuccessfully to swallow.

“Is that why you like windows so much? Why you like sleeping by the window?”
“I hope you get your house. Have you ever told anyone that before?”
“That means alot La.”

I know what I should say, know how it should sound, how it should go, as I have rehearsed this speech a million times before and just never had the gall to say the words. This time is no different. The words die somewhere on their way up from my heart.

“Maybe I should take you home,” he says to me, and I know from the sound of his voice that there is more that he wants to say but feels as though this is what he should do.

Mr. Wonderful is probably somewhere over whatever states lie between DC and Chicago. I wonder if his thoughts are with me as mine are with him. If I know him as I feel I do, then I know he is probably thinking of me, and willing himself not to as he knows that it will only make the painful even excruciating. We both hate separation, both hate goodbyes, and this is the reason that I do not go with him to the airport as we originally decided. This is what I tell myself. This is a regret I will file away with many.

I am house sitting this week for my co-worker and driving to her place outside of the city I always get lost. Every night and without fail. Tonight, I get lost again and I find myself driving down a long dark street in a neighborhood that is under construction. I turn around in the wrap around driveway that the street dead ends in. As my headlights shine through the night up at the house I gasp. The back of the house is made mostly of glass, three levels reaching up to the sky that the moonlight cuts through like a knife. I park the car and cry. I cry because I know I will miss him. I cry because I know that giving him what he thought he wanted wouldn’t be best for him. And cry because I know that night on the floor in his apartment, I sang but not to him, to someone else that couldn’t hear me though I let him think all the emotion was just for him. There is a part of me that felt like I cheated or lied and I guess, in a way, omission is its own kind of infidelity. Maybe, one day I will be able to admit all the things I could never say, if for no other reason than because it would mean that I am braver than I give myself credit for.

He is right. I will regret this.

And I know I will always think of him whenever I see a glass house.

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