I Imagine You
“When you leave the place you will only later call home, you become, rather suddenly, though you might not know it for quite some time,”  more of that place. Suddenly that which you left behind with such eager haste becomes your defining aspect. All these things you hated, or never even noticed, become rare jewels to be kept safe in a box, taken out to marvel at in solitude or to be presented to people with pride: look at these shiny pieces of me! These are the pieces of home—of you—that you chose to not pack in your luggage, that you deliberately left behind on the empty kitchen counter when the cab was waiting downstairs. But somehow they found their way into your carry-on bag.
I keep pieces of you with me. I take them out from time to time, either to hold for a moment and hide again, or to carry with me for a day, a week, a lifetime.
I collect pieces of you. I see the corner of your mouth in someone else’s smile. I see your eyes avoiding me in someone else’s gaze. I touch your fingers in someone else’s handshake.
I collect things for you. I collect thunderstorms for you to dance in. I save the smell of snow for you, catch the snowflakes glittering like diamonds in the moonlight. I collect scenes in movies for you to be touched by. I collect absurdities of life for you to laugh at, your quick laughter like rain drumming on the tin roof. I save the bottom halves of rolls for you. I put the tomatoes in a salad aside for you. I buy cartons of grape juice for you. They all dry, ferment, and grow moldy, uneatable and spoiled.
I save pieces of myself for you. I save my dreams to tell you. The touches I have for you I have kept inside me, like a savings account yielding interest in an obsolete currency.
You called me after almost a decade. I pretended I had deleted your number, not copied it to every phone I had had during these seven long years. Who is this? I asked, my voice shaking while I tried to sound bored and busy. You wanted to have dinner, catch up. OK, I said, I’ll look at my schedule and get back to you, already making up lies to tell my fiancée about a work meeting. Your eyes met mine, the same steel gray of a stormy sky. I was pulled to you, I fell into you. I plummeted down, pieces of me ripping off by the force of the fall until I was left with nothing but scraps of you that I wrapped around myself. Your eyes stopped seeing me once more and I was left with new souvenirs I deposited in with the old ones.
I rummage around the grimy bottom-feeders of my make-up bag, trying to find the slippery eyeliner. Finally my fingers wrap around its end and I pull it up, irritated in my morning haste, only to see that I’m holding a pen advertising a baseball team long since bankrupt: your team. How has this pen travelled all the way here, 4468 miles from the arena, 13 years from the bright lights illuminating your homerun the first time I saw you? Your body was like a dolphin leaping from the ocean when you slid into home base and I threw my heart at your feet.
But it’s not the pen that has travelled with me; it’s the bag. Somehow the only tangible thing I have saved of you is this very practical, sporty, boring navy Adidas make-up bag that I has carried my face through time and space.
I reserve space for you.
I no longer have your number.
1 Benson, Amy. The Sparkling-eyed Boy: A Memoir of Love, Grown up. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2004. Print.
About the author:
Katja Huru is a native of Finland and graduated in May 2014 with a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Degree from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Katja’s main area of research interest is fantasy literature from a gender studies point of view, which what she focused on when writing her MALS final project. Her essays for the project were featured in PopMatters. Katja is currently doing desk duties and day-dreaming. She does not like chocolate, but loves coffee, cake, and vampires.