I should have banned you from all of Manhattan

Sunny days that hurt instead of heal. Your t-shirt on
my desk, unsure if it wants to be kept or thrown away,
foolishly mailed a few blocks into Brooklyn. I miss
the way your smell would fill me up, reminding me of
the night we laid on top of your comforter in my twentieth
year, listening to Pink Floyd. You reached over and moved
a hair away from my face and I knew in that moment
that everything had changed. Three years later you did the
same in Paris, while we sat in the Jardin du Carrousel in
front of the Louvre, murmuring je t’aime, je suis excité,
laughing. Now I sit in my bed that has doubled in size
and I think that I should have been softer, should have waited
longer to wash you off my sheets, then maybe I could sniff you
once more and pretend that the words you muttered when you
ended it never existed, hadn’t even been thought. That you
didn’t tell me to come to the Spotted Owl Tavern on 13th
Street and Avenue A, that I hadn’t walked around a sticky
pool table to find you sitting at a high top in the back, legs
shaking, for the first time in four years looking not at all
excited to see me. Pas possible! We would have said
six months earlier, giggling. The way you wrapped me
into your egregious hugs and kisses. How long before
this did they become lies? What to do with my love
for you now, smothered by artificial boundaries, forced
to grow back into its own roots. So many three a.m.s
spent re-examining the past four years, alternating
between tears and denial. The first time you called me
your girlfriend, our Sophomore year at college. It was
drunk and premature, you revoked it later and I cried.
Walking along the Hudson in the early summer, picking
a rosary out of the water. I wanted to put it back, it felt
like the opening plot to a horror film but we kept it to
remember the way we felt in the late May breezes of
New Jersey. The phase when we embraced passionately
in the libraries of our college and were carnal in kitchens.
The first time you said you loved me. Then we couldn’t
stop saying it, we beat each other down with it until the
words became sounds and syllables rather than units of
meaning. No, that’s not true. We really did mean it every
time. I was so excited to grow up, move to New York.
I should have listened more to your silence but instead
I pushed past it, forcing mornings in Bushwick and
one-sided words of affirmation. I should have listened
when you let leak the things you hated about yourself
but instead I threw more and more love your way,
thinking that if I could just love you a little bit more
you would get it and love yourself too. Each month a
new crumb of incompatibility appeared but they still
seemed miniscule in comparison to my feelings for
you. I knew it wasn’t going to be linear forever, that
there was a chance it wouldn’t last – I may be delusional
but I’m not an optimist. But I didn’t think that it would end
in the Spotted Owl Tavern on 13th and A out of the
blue, you sitting across from me crying in front of me
for the first time, each word you spoke a new bruise
on my unexpecting face until I looked like a macabre clown.
Of course you wanted to be alone. I feel foolish now
for not seeing. Not a break, you said. You were ending it
for good. Why now? I pleaded. I thought there was more
in front of us, had so much warmth and tenderness
towards you, wanted it from you too. Why not now?
was your response, since it was always going to border on impossible.
I was wearing your favorite sweater, reddish pink and once
when I opened the door of my friend’s apartment wearing it
you gasped and said you couldn’t believe how lucky you were
to be dating me. Beneath it my skin broke out into hives
as I heard about how my love for you had become antithetical
to your desires, my affection offering you permission to fail.
What the fuck, I said. Don’t talk to me anymore. Now you
started to cry harder. But you had to understand, right?
I can’t handle a grain of your being without aching for
the whole thing. I love you, I said. I would have loved you
forever. And then I banned you from the East Village.
But I should have banned you from all of Manhattan.