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no invitation

We are at a 3 year old's birthday party in the back room of a cafe. Music is pumping from a tiny speaker. Balloon animals are popping, and waving in the air. A man in a yellow dinosaur costume dances wildly. Parents snap pictures with satisfied smiles on their faces.

A little girl approaches gingerly and stands in the doorway, straying from her parents somewhere inside the restaurant. She cannot be more than three. It must be hard to ignore all of the noise coming from this room packed with celebration. There is a perfect little pony tail at the back of her head. She hesitates, as one foot poises in the air and then rests back down. How to understand that she was not invited. How to understand the laughter, the loose jumping bodies, the presents piled high on the window. None of this connects to her. There is a little plate of food waiting for her back there, in the quiet restaurant. Maybe a warm bowl of soup, thick with noodles. I watch her for some time.

That night, her empty e…

the woman



I don't pretend to know more than what I witness. My eyes have seen tears, or that laugh that surfaces afterwards and it would be easy to glue everything together into one explanation. But that would be a mistake. Maybe even she does not know the whole truth.

But when she calls, I answer - if it is to march next to her, or to go buy some toilet paper. I cannot imagine my life without her and I sometimes think of writing a book about the man I might have become, wild and angry, yelling at cars in the street, a pimple on the world, a lost cause. It is too simple to say "she saved me" even if that is what it feels like. She calmed me. She loved me. She held her hand to my forehead in my darkest moments and they passed. Wife and mother and friend, my greatest critic, my greatest supporter. My heart leaps still at the sight of her.

I saw some family movies of N when she was young, maybe twelve. This is the skinny girl cracking gum that teases me still. Hands on hips, elbows out, eyebrow arched as the little arrows fly. Tiny little truths stinging my arms.

Today is the anniversary of the day we met. It was cold and dark. She smelled of narcissus, her hair a sleek curve that bounced at her shoulders. And she laughed. She laughed and laughed.








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