And with that, we were done.

It had been years in the making; almost three, to be closer to exact.

Three days of near-silence after Valentine’s weekend.  No panic, I thought.  He’s always quiet and depressed after a weekend together, while you’re energized.  He needs his space.  Try to give it to him.

This morning I had a dream: he had left me.  I was alone, in his town, trying to find a doctor, a taxi, a telephone, a place to sleep for the night, and I could not reach him.  He would not help.  My family, my mother’s large, extended family, loving and funny and bittersweet and enduring, stepped in, did the necessary.  And when he arrived at last and walked with me for awhile, they made room for us, and when he left again so soon after he’d come, they surrounded me with love.  It was a very real, very vivid dream.

Around noon I got an email from him: “Perhaps we could have a meaningful conversation early this evening?”

The conversation was short.  He said to me what I’d said to him two weeks before–that we wanted different things, that we were wasting each other’s time.  Except when I say it to him, he listens, and is compassionate, and saves us, again and again.  And when he says it to me I am so desperately hurt I just say, “Fine, go, forget it”–or I start to pick at him, and to argue.  So I asked, tonight, “Do you want me to try to change your mind?” and he said, “I don’t know, I want you to say whatever you want to say.”  I suppose I should have asked for permission to try to change his mind.

At some point–and that point would be now, or else I wouldn’t be blogging about it–I think we have to say goodbye.  We have given each other so much joy and we have made each other so, so, so very unhappy.

Once, when he was down, I played a Leonard Cohen song for him.  It didn’t occur to me what a bad idea it was to play that kind of song for him until I saw the tears rolling heavily down his cheeks.  I like melancholy; it might be one of the biggest differences between us.  And I loved the sad and beautiful strains of the song I played for him.  But he–he was listening to the lyrics, and the lyrics were about a woman leaving.  Say goodbye, they said, and I could see on his face all the times loves of his had said farewell, and I could see, in his tears, the anticipation of when I might do the same.

I guess we are there.

Alexandra Leaving

based on the poem The God Abandons Antony, by Constantine P. Cafavy

Suddenly the night has grown colder.
Some deity preparing to depart.
Alexandra hoisted on his shoulder,
they slip between the sentries of your heart.

Upheld by the simplicities of pleasure,
they gain the light, they formlessly entwine;
and radiant beyond your widest measure
they fall among the voices and the wine.

lt’s not a trick, your senses all deceiving,
a fitful dream the morning will exhaust—
Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving,
Then say goodbye to Alexandra lost.

Even though she sleeps upon your satin.
Even though she wakes you with a kiss.
Do not say the moment was imagined,
Do not stoop to strategies like this.

As someone long prepared for this to happen,
Go firmly to the window. Drink it in.
Exquisite music, Alexandra laughing.
Your first commitments tangible again.

You who had the honor of her evening,
And by that honor had your own restored—
Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving.
Alexandra leaving with her lord.

As someone long prepared for the occasion;
In full command of every plan you wrecked—
Do not choose a coward’s explanation
that hides behind the cause and the effect,

You who were bewildered by a meaning,
whose code was broken, crucifix uncrossed—
Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving.
Then say goodbye to Alexandra lost.

Hydra, Greece
September 1999