The Public Enemies
Innocent faces from college biting lips so they don’t spill that they saw you with a guest pass at the gym on 42nd. Coworker who knows everything because we got drunk on sake one night in the East Village, sees you on Lexington Ave., but never tells. You ran straight into my ex-husband in the E.R. at Mount Sinai when you fractured your foot during soccer practice. Obviously, I would never find that out. You caught my boyfriend’s eye on our vacation as we walked into Wynwood Kitchen, his arm around me as I laughed. Desperately trying to protect me, he never mentioned it.
But on a steaming August night, a decade since we were a “we,” as I watched my last pieces of hair swirl down the drain, vodka and chemo going through my veins, I reached out. And you were sitting alone in an AirBnB 500 miles from me, wishing anyone at all could feel the emptiness and defeat you felt from not being matched to a residency, as your phone lit up with a ghost’s message.
And no one will never know the conversations we have late at night after a martini and writing session. They’ll never know the one word texts that spell out an entire language for us.
Because we will always wake up tomorrow to the lives we created without each other. We’ll catch the J together, arms around each other as we struggle to answer morning emails, kissing goodbye at Chambers Street. And my ex-husband will continue to think you hate me just as much he does. I’ll gush to my coworker about the lunch my boyfriend made for me. And I’ll watch the Hurricanes’ games with my best college friends in the city as though I never fell madly in love with one, dated him my entire college tenure, and left him in the South Florida heat as I shifted my entire life to NYC.
But we know. We know who keeps us alive.