Just An Old-Fashioned Love Song
Jenny Di Placidi
You told me the way I remember things is wrong. It may be so. But the shades, the subtle shifts in the colors that coated everything and the way they change looking back, those changes mean something. There is something honest in remembering a thing wrong. It shows what was there, but not noticed, at the time.
___At the time it was summer. The radiators against the walls of the apartment were cool metal against our hot skin if we chanced to brush past them. The windows were open to the noises of the city outside and the air conditioner units in the windows lay silent in their broken state. Outside it seemed like, in spite of the heat, everyone was happy. Laughter rang out constantly. I felt, at times, it was directed at me, at us, at what we both knew wouldn’t last but refused to walk away from.
___It may have been winter.
___That spring when gentle living things pushed up through sun-warmed soil all over the city, the only thing I felt grow was a cancer, deep within.
___It is hard to say where one thing left off and another began. Where our differences stopped being laughable, jokes we would find in each other’s eyes, lying side by side in our bed under the big window, and became the cause of silences.
___When I would laugh you wouldn’t. It started small. But like everything it spiraled down until it became deep, the source of everything, the blockage that was deep inside my heart but that neither of us knew was there. It stuck, like stale bread, in the throat.
___“Where were you?” you asked, as I came in. My arms were laden with shopping bags, shiny, matte, plastic, heavy paper.
___But before it was nothing like that. It built up and fell, built and fell, like the rising and crashing bars of a symphony. It was apt, because it was symphonies you wrote, beautiful music from your fingertips that climbed up and down the yellowed ivory keys of your 1940 Steinway & Sons Piano. When I walked in through the door you jumped up, papers flying, scattered, sheets of music falling, spiraling, huge white snowflakes, down around us as we ran to one another.
___Just a love story. Yes, just a love story, just another old-fashioned love story. Three Dog Night was right -- just an old story.
___It is hard to say where it really ended. I remember things leaping inside me as I ran up steps in the heat, ran past sweating ovens, sweating men, sweating radiators, all to leap into your arms, to have you leap inside of me. And later I remember the steps seeming like a marathon, each footstep heavier than the next, pulling hard at me, pulling at my breath. And I know how hard it was for you to see me like that.
___“What did the doctor say?” you asked me.
___And you didn’t. Which was what I wanted. Yeats said “things fall apart, the center cannot hold,” and it is, it was, it is true. Just an old song.
___I thought when you left it was winter. It seemed so cold inside that apartment. The radiator felt like ice when I walked by, everything was frozen. A thousand white comforters couldn’t hold the heat to me.
___It is funny now, that I look back, I see it all happened in two months. Just June and July. There couldn’t have been a changing of seasons. There was no fall, no winter, no spring. It only felt like a year of seasons, flooding away from me like the removal of a tumor or my heart, when you left the apartment over the bakery. When you left.
___The piano stands in a corner. Sheet music is not yellowed. It is white but it is unplayed, unheard, like the words that lay in between us, words impossible to say. You said it would be impossible to find anyone willing to move the piano out. But I remember hiring four huge men, I remember muscles pushing and pulling, air ripe with curses as they maneuvered it into place. You just couldn’t be bothered to wait long enough to take it with you. I thought you would, but then, it was me who remembered a whole year of seasons in which things came undone, me who remembered a whole year it took for you to leave me, it was me who remembered so wrong.
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