End of the Line

Two 4-year olds talking about death is never a good idea.

“I don’t want to die,” my son tells the other boy, suddenly upset, “because then my mommy would be all alone.”

Me. He’s worried about me.

Have I been doing such a bad job of holding it all together that the loneliness is just spilling out, leaking from the edges of me in such a way that even he can sense it?

This is how the heart breaks, I think, from love.

I need something to change.

I keep thinking lately about coastlines, how water is always remaking them, how the sand is continually melting with the tides, redepositing itself on beach edges in ever new configurations. How all maps of coastlines are but approximations, merely fictive constants that, for a while, we choose to accept as true. How there is something futile about trying to map them, like there is in loving a man there can’t be a future with. Yet people do. Yet I do.

And when I think about the uncertainties of coastal map making, I am thinking too of boundaries, of how a boundary is “something that indicates limits,” and yet how almost all boundaries are dependent upon our agreement of where that line of limit lies, where history will prove that line lay, and for how long. That is the trouble with boundaries, you see, they blur, get reshaped. Even land, redistricted. Even countries, becoming parts of other countries.

When I no longer wanted to love a man, to consider all the empty spaces he fit inside, I thought too of how he was his own kind of country, something I had edged but couldn’t inhabit.

And so here is where I stay stop. Here is where I try to draw my own line and hold it, even if just for a little while.

A little while, like how I had held him, and finally had to let go.

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