I have no photographs from that time. Perhaps even then I knew it was a relationship I didn’t want to chronicle.
But there are memories nonetheless. In my mind’s eye there is a picture of you with your guitar, the blond Les Paul, the one with a hairline crack in the neck. I am so sure that I did not make that crack. That was all you.
You’d stand in the dining room, in the apartment when we still had furniture. You paced as you played. “Noodling,” you called it. I didn’t think, “When is he ever going to get a job?” Not then.
In this memory you are standing over the stove. You had learned how to make stir fry from a cookbook.
“The hot oil is what cooks the food,” you said.
And it seems like a miracle. We now know how to make something other than tuna fish and hot dogs. You were so proud of yourself.
“You chop zucchini too slowly,” you said.
And I thought, is that a thing? Being a slow chopper? Then I thought, this is how I will remember this relationship: you criticizing the speed with which I cut vegetables, totally ignoring how perfectly even each zucchini slice is. I could win a contest for how evenly sliced my vegetables are.
I don’t remember how you cut vegetables. All I remember is how you cut the limes for the tequila shots, sawing each fruit in to wedges with a dull steak knife, probably taken from the drawers of our parents’ kitchens as we were leaving home.
You always arranged the limes with ceremony. You’d put them on a plate, your favorite plate, the one with the mustard yellow swirls on the edges. The one I threw against the wall, missing your head, not because you ducked, but because I had bad aim, after we’d eaten all the limes and drunk all the tequila.
I’m not sorry I broke your favorite plate.
Janine Kovac is a writer living in the San Francisco Bay Area where she teaches writing workshops and curates literary events. Her memoir Spinning: Choreography for Coming Home was a semifinalist for Publishers Weekly’s BookLife Prize and the memoir winner of the 2019 National Indie Excellence Awards. An alumna of Hedgebrook and the Community of Writers, Janine was the 2016 recipient of the Elizabeth George Foundation Fellowship. Her current project is a collection of essays about a family of five that dances in the Nutcracker.