If by Postcard

il y a
2 min
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lectures
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If by Postcard

Sometimes, endings arrive by letter—sometimes by postcard. Of the two, I by far prefer the letter.
I wouldn’t want to create the impression that men are always leaving me—I’ve left a few myself—but I must confess that Eric was a surprise.
With his composer’s intensity, expressive hands, and long ponytail, he had made me feel— while perhaps not young again—at least that possibility might lift me once more upon its wings.
We had first met in a voice class that I was teaching. A friend of his had persuaded him that voice lessons might help him with his latest composition—a symphonic movement with choral interludes.
Tall, boyishly handsome, and shy—I guess that about describes my weakness in men. Eric was all of these. He had stuttered as a child but now, in his mid-thirties, it was only infrequently that he did so—whenever he became overly self-conscious.
“Er-er-eric Walker...I write mu-music,” he had said, when I had asked everyone in the class to introduce themselves.
I myself was one year into a blissful divorce from Frank, my first husband. And while I had dated a little, being with Eric was like marching to the beat of a new drum.
“Breathing from the diaphragm...” I was saying, as I placed a flattened palm against his belly to demonstrate the point. He had gulped a deep breath in surprise.
Later on after class, we went out for drinks. I ended up telling him my war stories from the marriage, and he told me about his sister, Janice, a woman my age who was about to get divorced and was planning a move to Mexico.
That got us talking about murals and mariachis, and when we ended up that night at my place, the affair, you might say, was on.
Still, looking back, I will admit that being with a younger man was a little like knowing that someday, somehow, someone was going to call in the loan—but for the time being, you could string things along with nothing more than bright smiles and minimum payments.
It had been a long time since I’d opened up this much to anyone, and truthfully, I luxuriated in the almost reckless, headlong dive into desire.
Then, one evening, feeling dangerously romantic and lighter in spirit than I had for a long time, I wagered those three little words that seem to heave so much weight—and just like that, the angels fled. Suddenly, the full-throated choir we were in went a cappella—and it was only me alone on the stage, my voice hoarse and thin; the glare of the spotlight pinning me in place.
When he stopped inviting me out with his other musician friends, I knew we were in trouble. And though I may have been the wiser of the two, I was surprised at the depth of my disappointment.
Then it was July, and I was off to Venice to teach a semester overseas. Eric had planned to join me at the end of the month and we were going to “do” Italy, but there never was a second act.
Break-ups, when they arrive by letter, give you something to return to, like an artifact of yourself, still cared for and preserved in the delicate folds of a faded envelope.
Those who write letters seem to be grappling with the forces in life that push and pull and somehow drag you, unwillingly, towards your destiny. They make their protestations, they even doubt their choices, but in the end, they tell you that for good or bad, for better or worse, it has to be this way—that they simply must move on.
Postcard writers, on the other hand, like my Eric, have already moved on.
They are moving at full speed away from the white-hot center of their emotions and have found just a quick moment to say they are sorry, that it was great while it lasted, but “goodbye” anyway.
If by postcard, break-ups arrive like news flashes—living only in the fragile space between today’s headlines and yesterday’s news.
Of the two, I prefer the letter.
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