A long time ago, I loved a man who had one of everything.
As an insulin-dependent, grippingly-compliant diabetic, David survived by slow movements on the thinnest imaginable high wire. He spared me tight little smiles. He kept his body lean and clean. He organized his t-shirts by the one color he permitted himself: beige. Single pocket, short sleeve.
Yet when I flew to visit David in Helena, he dragged his chains from the garage and drove me to the glaciers on Halloween. I brought my own dishes and silverware for the three-day vacation. I forgot my camera. I have no documentary evidence of the trip. David said, No matter; we have pictures in our mind. And then he smiled.
When I got back from my trip out west, on November 01st, 1983, David returned my dishes in a small, tidy package which arrived on my door step postage due. I haven’t seen him since, but neither have I forgotten him. The tidiness of his closet contrasted with his willingness to downshift through snowy curves on the highway so that I could see St. Mary’s Lake. I held my breath beside the swirl of grey while he administered his nightly dose of stay-alive-juice with a needle and a primitive glove-box tourniquet.
I thought of David this morning as I slid delicately scrambled eggs from my cast iron pan onto a square plate beside a rice cake. I set my breakfast on the lone place mat in the narrow expanse of my downsized dining room table. A gentle breeze rippled the curtains. The tiny chime of the bamboo hanging from the porch drifted through the house. I heard no one’s voice. My thoughts remained unspoken.
But the debris of a crowded life clutters the shelves and crowds the cupboards. Feet have trampled on these floorboards. In the thirty-four years since that plane lifted from the runway with David on the other side of the nonreflective glass, eyes burning through his thick lenses, I have embraced every opportunity to fill the vacuum.
I expect to find one red plate, one red mug, one red bowl shoved in an upper cabinet in a box with aging tape and faded stamps. They’ll go in the garage sale when I move, the last vestiges of my ode to singularity. Make of this news what you will. My heart still beats; wonky, but persistent.
It’s the twenty-third day of the forty-first month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.