Four nights before Tyler Clementi jumped from the George Washington Bridge, I was sitting in a hotel room in my own town calculating exactly what I had to swallow to keep a bottle of sleeping pills down.
What I know about living is that the pain just isn’t ours. Every time I hurt, I know that wound is an echo so I keep listening for that moment when the grief becomes a window I where I can see what I couldn’t see before.
“I wish I was a photograph tucked into the corners of your wallet.
I wish I was a photograph you carried like a future in your back pocket.
I wish I was that face you showed to strangers when they ask you where you’ve come from.
I wish I was that someone that you’ve come from every time you get there.
And when you get there,
I wish I was that someone that got phone calls and postcards saying “wish you were here.”
I wish you were here.”—Andrea Gibson, Photograph
Maybe we shouldn’t meet again. Tengo stared up at the ceiling. Wasn’t it better if they kept this desire to see each other hidden within them, and never actually got together? That way, there would always be hope in their hearts. That hope would be a small, yet vital flame that warmed them to their core — a tiny flame to cup one’s hands around and protect from the wind, a flame that the violent winds of reality might easily extinguish. Tengo stared at the ceiling for a good hour, two conflicting emotions surging through him. More than anything, he wanted to meet Aomame. At the same time, he was afraid to see her. The cold disappointment and uncomfortable silence that might ensue made him shudder. His body felt like it was going to be torn in half. But he had to see her. This is what he had been wanting, what he had been hoping for with all his might, for the last twenty years. No matter what disappointment might come of it, he knew he couldn’t just turn his back on it and run away.