I’m one of those people who swears he likes to live his life without regrets.
It’s not entirely true, of course. The entire first half of my life seems to be filled with incidents in which I said or did the wrong thing—or more likely, didn’t say or do something when I could have, only to come to realize how fleeting that opportunity was, years and years later. All the lost people from my youth of whom I’ve written—heck,everyone in my series of Earl stories, for example—lie entombed in my memory encircled with wreaths of regret.
The best that can be said of our early years, though, is that if we’re paying attention, we start to learn from our mistakes and hopefully not make them again. Right? One of the reasons I dissect my failures is so that I can figure out where I went wrong. And I like to think I’ve gotten to a point at which I do live without regrets. Sure, there are the short-term regrets. The unkind words I say, the missed opportunities, the times when I have a fit of temper and lash out at a friend. These days, though, I’m more likely to realize what’s happening. Instead of waiting to write about it with regret in another twenty years, I apologize, or make the wrong right. I’m not perfect, but I like living with the smallest footprint of guilt possible.
I was thinking earlier this week that I do regret not having more than one life to live. There have been times in my existence I’ve wished I could simply diverge and take two paths. I want to have my current life and my current relationship, while another me goes off and lives an entirely different life. I like the life I lead. Yet sometimes, I experience an immense sadness when I think to myself that as rich as it is, it didn’t go another way.
I thought about that an awful lot, a couple of weeks ago, when Spencer started popping up into my life more often.
It started casually, when he sent me that video of him singing, unaccompanied, “Wicked Little Town”. A few days later, he started sharing some of his writing with me—some poems about loss and love that I found moving. I sat down and over the course of a week knitted him (Yes. Shut up.) a hat in a style I thought he would particularly like.
The entire time I was working away on the thing, I kept thinking about Spencer, and what he’d meant to me. I thought about the enormous quantities of food he consumed whenever he came to my house, and how I had to visit Trader Joe’s three times a week to stock up. I thought about the warmth of his body against mine when we would sleep, actually sleep, together in bed at night. I thought a lot about the sounds he would make whenever I’d open his hole with my dick or my fist.
I thought about his tattoos, about his limber legs that could grip the underside of the headboard’s top bar with prehensile strength, like a monkey’s. I thought about the little gifts he’d give me, and about the gifts I’d plan for him. I thought about the books we encouraged each other to read, and I thought about his soft lips against mine. His smell. The touch of his hand and the sounds of his voice.
And a lot of the time I thought about the perfect weekend we spent together, one blustery January when we had blizzard conditions forecast and knew we’d spent at least a couple of days holed up in our homes. He decided to spend that entire weekend with me, and we cuddled beneath a blanket on the couch in the den the entire time, talking and fucking and watching television, and only leaving the safety of the couch so I could make meals for him, or when we’d scamper upstairs and crawl between the frigid sheets together, giggling like little boys. For three days we were able to bask in each other’s company, uninterrupted, without guilt, without regret.
It really was, in my memory, perfect.
I’d finished the hat and had taken it to the post office week before last, and literally was walking back into the house from the trip when I got an email from him that read, Whenever I listen to Kate Bush’s “Snowed in at Wheeler Street,” I think of us. I love you and miss you very much.
The timing of it bowled me over. I hadn’t told him I was making him anything, much less that I’d been thinking about that snowstorm, or that I’d been on my way back from mailing his gift. We were just unusually in sync that day.
“Snowed in at Wheeler Street” is a duet between Bush and Elton John from her latest (and excellent) album, 50 Words for Snow. It’s a story about reincarnation, essentially—about two lovers reincarnated again and again throughout the centuries, whose lives and paths cross in each, but only for a fleeting moment. Their time together is never the present, but always in the future, in a life of which their current selves will have no awareness. Until, that is, the pair finally are snowed in during a storm, and realize how many times they’ve been close each other before, and how badly they don’t want to lose each other again.
I was surrounded by people when the email came in. I had to excuse myself, take a walk, find somewhere private, and mourn for a very long and wet time.
I loved Spencer so very much. Much as I try not to think about it, I still do. When we were together, I knew that it was only for a time, and that our relationship came with an expiration date. I made my peace with that. The life I chose was the right choice for me. But oh, I think about him and wish, just wish, that there could be another me out there, giggling with Spencer and sharing his life with him, and diving naked beneath the covers to make love to him while he’s still steaming from the shower. I don’t regret falling so headlong for the boy. I don’t regret the choice I made, in moving away from him. I only regret not having the luxury to afford all the options.
But it’s nice to know he misses me too.
He’s been sending me photos of himself in the hat, which he loves. But I keep hoping that maybe one day, during a snowstorm, he’ll pull it over his head and imagine it’s me keeping him warm, like I used to. And I hope he knows how very difficult it was for me to lose him.
Until the next life, anyway.