Saturday, February 4, 2012


You were long gone by then, and with each day that had passed a million years had crept in to fill the void. A day gone, and you couldn’t remember the feel of her skin. A week gone, and you couldn’t remember the smell of her hair. A month gone, and you couldn’t remember the taste of her lips. A year gone, and you couldn’t remember the sound of her voice.

You will never forget the day you needed the help of a photograph to remember what she looked like. You were around a decade gone, you woke up in the morning to an old song on the radio, one of her favourites, and you could not conjure up her image. You lay in bed awake for a time agonizing over this absence of memory, the last shred of memory you had of her, but nothing would come. Bested by the passing of the ages, you reluctantly dragged yourself out of bed, pulled opened a desk drawer, and withdrew a 4x6 photo.

Her, standing in a crowded market in Damascus, disgustedly pointing at a wretched pile of cured animal parts: hooves, hocks, and heads. She wasn’t even smiling – how could she, really? – but it was the only photograph you had. You examined it for a time, taking in her short raven hair, tanned skin, and green eyes. Imagined her exquisite curves beneath those khaki pants and jacket. Found your mind going to another place, another time.

But even then, you were all too familiar with the fallibility of memory. Nothing is ever remembered as it truly was. Each time a memory is called forth it’s modified, altered by every thought and experience occurring between then and now. You nurture different biases. Form different ideals. Nostalgia pollutes, and soon you’re writing fiction. Layering coats of paint on an old fence. Like a stone in a polisher, each memory becomes smoother, shinier, prettier with each trip around the drum. Your reverie broken by this sobering line of thought, you tossed the photograph back in the drawer.

You were long gone by then, with a thousand Mediterranean photographs to peruse. Decaying architecture. Turquoise coasts. Crowded cobblestone streets. Yes, by the time she realised you had left the continent, you were long gone, sitting in another airplane, crossing another border, flipping through these photographs, always lingering on the same one.

When you fled, you had no way of knowing how much you would miss her.

You were around a week gone when guilt raised its ugly head, and you crowded into a ratty telephone booth in Algiers. Needless you say, she wouldn’t return your calls. Why would she? She was too good for you, and when you up and left without telling her, you proved it to both of you. Packing up your few things. Sneaking off to a train station in the middle of the night. Buying a ticket to a place you couldn’t yet pronounce. It was all so... you. You were simply showing her who you were. Doing her a favour.

Twenty years gone, and you still think of her. You imagine what could have been. You wonder where she is now, who she’s with, what she’s doing. You begin to consider what a complete jerk you were back then, until you realise something quite startling: considering time’s masterful way of buffing memories to a glean, you were probably even more of a jerk than you can even begin to fathom.


  1. You know, I haven't visited here, or anywhere for that matter, in quite awhile. But this piece resonated with me... as they always do.

    1. It feels pretty good to be posting here again. Aimless, free, like when I first started out. Just rummaging around in my subconscious, seeing what I can find.