The Slow-Cooked Sentence

Space is something we give ourselves

Rachael Conlin Levy

In your absence, I’ve taken up exercising. I practice breathing. I take short breaths that leave me dizzy, long breaths that pour into my belly and force it to expand, loud breaths that sound as if I’m breathing fire, and secret breaths that stir the butterflies drifting above my bed where I sleep, alone, because, by concentrating on the basic, thoughtless act of breathing, I know I exist, independent of you.

At first, the loss of you was a novelty, a skip in the rhythm, and I enjoyed the altered tune. I cooked a quiche and ate it for three days, and the laundry basket stayed low for a long time, but then came the day when I opened your closet and smelled you, and an ache sprang from my belly, arced over my head, splashed to my feet and drenched me with yearning. But you returned too soon. I was ready. But not ready. Don’t misunderstand me: I wanted you, but not your physical-ness, and now you are here, again, asking me to share the blanket and clear your end of the table, which had been taken over with stuff, books and newspapers and things bought but not yet put away. Happily, I return the space that you’d temporarily vacated, but still. I wanted a bit more time with the ache, you see, to touch it, bathe it, to get reacquainted with the me that isn’t you.

3 responses to “Space is something we give ourselves”

  1. kyndale says:

    They’re back?! I’m glad you had time to yourself. But, didn’t you still have two kids? Two kids seems pretty easy when you’re used to four. It’s just me and Eli this weekend. We’re going to the air races and the hot springs, just the two of us.

    Love to you Rachael,

  2. anno says:

    Beautiful, Racheal… you’ve written your way into just the perfect place between ache & awe. Suspect it would speak to many people living through many different circumstances; sure hope you have plans to send this one out.

    Glad to see that your Dad has completed his radiation treatments; I hope he has an easy recovery & a promising prognosis. Best wishes to you & your family.

  3. Rachael says:

    Kyndale, two kids remained behind while the others went to Amsterdam, but like you said, the parenting load was lightened, routines were set aside. The change was good.

    Anno, thank you for thinking of my dad. As for doing something more with this … hmm … you’ve got me thinking.

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