August 18th, 2020 was the day I let you go.
Standing before the edge of the Pacific Ocean as the sea-swept horizon swallowed our burning sun, I carved your name carefully into the wet sand. First, then last. This was the name that I never called you – never, except once, tentatively, in an email – because I knew you by something else, and that something else was always more real between the two of us than the block letters printed on your government-issued ID.
It’s funny, because back then you called me by my full legal name, but you never knew me by the chosen name I call myself now. Irony works in cycles – and our time was destined to be cyclical. This life will always come back to you and me.
Sometimes I wonder if you would still accept me – if you knew me as I know myself to be, right here, right now. I wonder if you would still be proud. I wonder if you would still remember.
But I’d like to think that serendipitous love, the love I knew as a small child, is stronger than the chains society enslaved you within, stronger than the tides of groundless imaginary hatred that tear real human bodies apart. The chains are still here, even if your body is not. And right here, right now, as our fiery sun quenches its thirst in the vastness of the waste-filled seas emptied of old systems and old life, the tides are rising.
They will not always be rising, they say, but there is no evidence of that. Tides are not something you can quantify in a random-sample study with payoffs to undergraduate psychology majors of less than minimum wage.
Some ten feet away from me, ankle-deep in the surging waves that continue their steady assault on my life, my first love and her partner embrace. Her hair is gilded in the richness of our sun’s final breath – final, because this sun, our sun, will never rise again – and she leans into his soft, tender figure with a yearning tinged with sorrow and regret. And happiness – there is that, too. For some, there is happiness.
I stand quietly as my tears start to blur the boundaries between life and death, sea and sky, love and hatred, sand and ash, and the very fact that all of these things are not mutually exclusionary, that individuals and their emotions and their cyclical rituals of survival cannot be put into boxes and tied up with ribbon to be served as your child’s Christmas present, compounds this incredible nameless heartache that roars in the painful spot behind my ears and collapses this beautiful world into a deafening silence as the rising tides wash your name away.
Here and gone – vanished within the fractional time it took you to breathe your last breath – just like your socially rejected body, now claimed by the painted waves that promised us a tomorrow without realizing it would never come.