It’s been nearly four months since Aretha died and it’s still hitting me so hard. Today I listened to her “Bridge Over Troubled Water” about 40 times—its slow build, her big sea of sadness and strength, that soaring everything-everything—and it didn’t make me feel any better about her being gone. But it did make me feel her, and that was so much better than I could have hoped. Once again she’s carrying me through a hard time, reminding me that being brave requires a wide-open heart. And of course, a close girlfriend called tonight to talk about much she’s been playing the Queen during her own hard time. Aretha was channeling us both, I think, because she’ll always be the patron saint of strong women who don’t stop feeling. For this I’ll say what I’ll always have cause to say: Thank you for raising me right, Mama. I love you forever.
your departure seems like it has to be final this time and i can’t stop crying. i feel like the ground has opened up below me, that everything is going to stay dark and cold, and what is the point of such love and warmth—the feeling i had hoped for (prayed for) for such a long time–only to have it go away again. the loneliness is a lot worse now, worse than it was before, because i thought we were each other’s reward for all our sadness, all the struggle before we found each other. you’re the last person i should be saying it to, but it’s your embrace i want (all that would make me feel better) and i’m an inconsolable small person right now. an inconsolable small person with a new manicure because I thought I would make love to you with these new short purple nails. i press send here but it’s always to you that the lost love is heedlessly, helplessly traveling. the pain, jesus, the pain is terrible. will this venus retrograde never end.
I had this dream about him last night, about our first real date when he was dressed up and I was too, cufflinks and heels and pomade and lots and lots of red lipstick and spicy cologne. A dream of a swank event and his wide smile and my gap-toothed grin, of a midnight midtown walk and drinks in a secret bar we stumbled upon when most everyone was asleep. I dreamed that instead of flattening ourselves on two different sides of the cab, we came together–not, as it really happened, with me leaning timidly against his chest but with us kissing kissing kissing as the car soared high above the city, a kiss that didn’t stop, wouldn’t stop. A kiss we could trust. Me climbing on top of him, he reaching into me, buttons unbuttoning, zippers unzippering, fingers and mouths everywhere on a bridge hurtling us somewhere better–somewhere I wouldn’t panic just when the going could get good, somewhere he had plenty of time and inclination, somewhere no one would jump off, somewhere we could flourish together. It was a dream of the we that didn’t happen, and it was tough because things felt so sweet and got so sour. Waking up was brutal.