This is the last year, the tenth year, the final year. On December 26 at 10:30 PM it will be over, metaphorically speaking.
A calendar reminder spiraled up out of the mist sometime over Thanksgiving break and I sat back and thought about it. Five years of distraction and that cosmic memo's still out there. I'll be damned.
My mother said, tell him you'll wait ten years. That'll scare the shit out of him. I don't know if this was before or after he said he was never coming back but it hardly matters. I spent that first year operating under the assumption that if I was good enough, if I said the right things, if I was tolerant, if I managed to figure out what it was he truly wanted and needed then he'd be back because, because
Alway. Dammit. Alway.
It was the time we ran away to Puerto Rico after I got sacked (OK, thrown from the roof with a six month package but sacked is sacked) from The Castle and he was next and it wasn't nearly as pretty and we forgot the world and stayed on points and extended day after day until we ran out of something. It was the time I remember lying on my back looking past him out at the ocean and thinking, this is the honeymoon. It is never going to be this good again.
And it was and it wasn't. The truth of it is it was never that easy again. The intimacy deepened considerably.
On our way back from somewhere we passed a vegetable truck with a safety message painted on its side. It read:
Wear your seatbelt Alway.
Not always, Alway.
I love you Alway, he told me.
How could he possibly be gone when there was Alway?
Seriously. That's how my mind was working and it took a damn effing long time to get Alway the fuck out of my head.
I have a 250 GB drive on this Mac. When I bought the damn thing sometime in the middle of 2016 I remember thinking... that's probably alright but I was busy and I was thinking external storage wasn't a bad option and then that was that. Did you know you can download everything in your Facebook account? Yup. The works. Or at least ostensibly the works. I know this because I finally deleted a secondary account I had back in 2010 when my primary kept locking me out. It suggested I archive myself first. I did. There wasn't much to archive but it was kind of cool. So I archived my primary. I created that account in 2007 and it's a pretty active account. I don't suppose it archives all the stuff that doesn't belong to you (all that crap we forward without fact checking first?) but the photos and communication, you get that.
I decided to take a look at my storage. These are good things to do periodically and definitely good things to do when you're preparing to download something of which you have no visibility in terms of size.
9.04 GB free.
Well, I decided Facebook wasn't going to give me 10 GB of data given the compression rules they have about media and I was right. They gave me 1 GB (holy shit!).
Time to start looking at what the hell's on my drive because I sure as shit did not log that on my own in 18 months. Turns out the ever helpful Portnoy took the backup from the Dell, slapped it on a zip drive and dropped it in the mail a while back. Chances are he made a full disclosure in the brief letter enclosed with the package and chances are I failed to process this information. Entirely.
It was a very old Dell. It was a very old Dell that looked very new because it sat dormant for four years before being resurrected (don't ask) and before the purchase of the very old Dell there was another very old Dell and somehow in the gap between the David/Alecto Dell and the Alecto Alone Dell a short video taken with a palm sized cannon meant to replace the D70 when I couldn't manage the bulk made it's way from the cannon onto a drive. I don't know which drive and I don't know when because if I'd been aware of what I was doing it would have ripped my heart out.
The video is time and date stamped but it's wrong. It can't possibly be right because I would not have had it in my possession yet. It would still have been wrapped and under the tree. The time date stamp reads: December 25, 2008 at 12:40 PM. It is off by exactly 12 hours. The date and time are December 26, 2008 at 12:40 AM.
The recording is the last 99 seconds of my marriage.
It didn't end right there. It took another twenty-one hours for the walls to come down on my head but those 99 seconds are the end.
I couldn't watch it all because I knew what was coming. I could watch the first fifteen seconds, maybe. I could listen to the softness in my voice. I don't remember that voice. I think that voice died the next night. There is a sweetness I really wouldn't have thought I was capable of as I am speaking to him. He is undressing in front of the closet the way he does every night. I am not filming anything inappropriate or even suggestive. I am filming a moment of Alway. It is 99 seconds of gut wrenching intimacy and gentleness of the sort that builds when two people crawl inside each other and don't come out.
I clicked the pause icon and looked at it. I know I should wipe the thing from my drive but it is only 193.3 MB and it is all I have. I removed every trace of him and us within three years. It was the only way I could move forward, out of Alway.
I didn't delete it though. I left it there. It's not for watching. I can't watch that. No one can watch that, but I can't bring myself to erase it either.
He isn't coming back. He should not come back but that doesn't change the fact of Alway or the terrible knowledge that I loved him best even if I didn't want to.