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.




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