I drove today to the automotive garage I used when I lived here in Pittsburgh. These were the same men who fixed Brandon's car so he could drive back to Houston, so he could see his mother before she died, so we could finally start our own unravelling as a couple.
In the waiting room, two women and a youngish guy, watching some Sunday church service on BET. A woman in a powder-blue dress with a boxy bodice was growling about the cross, about Jesus. Every commercial was Mariah Carey rubbing her perfume between her bountiful breasts, then cavorting with a beautiful man in the sheets. The women smacked their teeth and made fun, alternately, of the powder blue growler and of inappropriate Mimi. They got loud and funny, the two women explaining to the guy what a girdle was. Then what a 2-piece girdle was, and why you shouldn't wear one if you look like Aretha.
I was glad for their talk, and though I tried to honor their privacy in the waiting area, it wasn't long before their raucous humor had me falling out too. Then we were passing grins to one another and laughing, while bearded men in flannel shirts and jackboots looked both detached and perplexed.
I was glad for their talk because I had risen out of the quiet of the apartment, out of my smoke-stenched clothes, and it was snowing lightly and I am trying to understand silence. But all silence ever does is make me sad that we can't rise up out of our bodies and touch each other with words.
Ater the church service was off -- sweating preachers and chorusing women and all -- my car was returned to me in better shape. The light had been fixed, I could penetrate the darkness more powerfully now, now I was not one-eyed down the roads I have yet to travel. I don't know what, but something compelled me to see the place I used to live here in Pennsylvania, past the South Hills of Pittsburgh, twenty minutes from the West Virginia border. I wanted to encounter myself, to see how I'd changed.
In the last apartment where I lived with my then-boyfriend, two cars parked outside: a dark blue sports car, and a white Mitsubishi. These were like the cars that we'd driven up and stopped there for four months, the cars he and I drove when we lived there. We were so happy in August, for a month, and then.... Something stopped. Some brake was pulled and it would not come undone. The white Mitsubishi was a different model, but looking at that little red triangular emblem, I remembered how in the days after he left I saw it everywhere.
New us-es live there now, making their Brandon-and-Jamie lives work better. I hope there's more happiness, easier and sweeter talk in the bed on Sundays, the day we always used to fight. I hope the bedroom door isn't slammed even once. I hope no one sleeps on the couch, telling himself that he just drifted off to late night television.
I didn't see myself living there, unlocking the door or stepping outside for an early morning cigarette. I didn't see the last time I kissed him, in that spot, almost exactly a year ago. I didn't even see me inside that tiny little apartment, struck dumb one morning reaching for a tie, that day in October last year, when I realized I couldn't remember the last time he had kissed me.
I didn't see us. But I saw our cars had changed: what had brought us to that point, what had brought us beyond -- all of that is different now, and better.
And now I'm back at my brother's apartment, preparing a meal as the night descends. It's Yule in Pittsburgh, I'll settle down with my brother tonight to celebrate light's elastic cycle. It's helpful for me to think of time as a forward-moving circle instead of merely linear. It's nice to find that I didn't leave what I thought I left here behind.