It’s not a place that you can ever go back to, because he is gone, forever, but he left it with you, on the inside.
Inside the heart, there is a caravan of warmth made up of all the people you have ever loved. They are with you even through the darkest days of the winter. The days that you think you might not make it because everything is too dark and too bleak and it seems like all the light has gone out of the world.
Outside the rain falls in sheets of cold light, the drops intermittent, and hushed.
He’s making soup, standing looking out over the edge of the sea and the scent curls into you like warmth. He’s made a fire in the little pot-bellied woodstove, and the bed is turned down, and waiting.
Yours is the comfort of actual intimacy, because there is nothing that the two of you cannot say to each other. He tells you how rare this is, and because he is twenty years older he must have known that, you think later.
The towhees move about in the hedges, chirping out little sounds, looking for shelter from the rain.
There was a universe the two of you made inside the house full of stars and now it exists in memory only. Maybe the biggest mistake of your life was not leaving then. You think about the reasons you didn’t, now, thirteen Christmases later, watching birds.
“I couldn’t stand to lose you,” he says.
“I’ll have to be the one who goes first.”
You try and take him seriously at that time, but you are really thinking about living and not what he is talking about, but he knows more than you, having lived longer.
“Have this,” he says.
* * *
You’re only twenty six and the world stretches before you endlessly. You are making Cioppino for a party and Alladin stands at your feet purring, hoping for a shrimp. This is a year where you survived the worst. You didn’t think you would, after a love like that one was — but you did. Something in you grew stronger, that year. He had broken your heart, and broken your soul, but you grew stronger.
Time passes like that, doesn’t it?
The body is an inn for wayfarers.
The heart makes a circle out of time.
* * *
His hands in the house full of stars erase everything you thought you knew about love. He’s suffered far more pain than you have and when he starts to tell you all about it, when he writes it into love letters and mails them to you, he opens a door that you can see through. It’s large, and causes your largesse. You decide to show him something else. It’s like a trick you do, before the little fireplace, after his soup.
You take up his hands, first one, and then the other and you pour a little scented oil in one of your palms. For a very long time you massage each hand. They both look so different. He’s the only man you will ever know like that. The man who had two different hands. The man who had never had a childhood and yet he was the kindest soul on earth.
You have decorated his whole house with icicle lights, and he takes one of the strands inside the tiny bedroom where he sleeps.
“Look, ” he says. “Magic.”
They twinkle against the wainscoting, leaving shadows.
“I never had a Christmas like this,” he says.
Sometimes there are rooms where you can take everything off. His presence allows that.
Years later you will remember how that Christmas felt, and the warmth of it is enough to sustain you through the cold of other winters. Little strands of stars hang in the windows forever in the house full of stars in your memory. No one can touch them. No one can touch two hearts that are lit by the radiance and the fire of love.
“I can never say goodbye to you,” is what you say when he leaves on the motorcycle. You’re crying because you don’t want him to go, but you know he is going anyway. He seems so proud of the way it purrs when he starts it up. It’s a toy he has gotten, and you want his happiness and so you don’t say anything. It all happens so fast after that. Within three days he’ll be gone forever, but you don’t know this yet.
The heart is an inn for wayfarers.
“Leave a candle in the window for me,” he says.
“So I can find my way back to you.”
The rain streams down like so many tears each year. You have his old plaid jacket full of tears you’ve shed, for the love that got lost in the rain on a motorcycle when he rambled off down the road that led away from you because you couldn’t make up your mind fast enough for him.
It seemed like so much was at stake in those years.
“house full of stars” – copyright 2010 by Valentine Bonnaire – all rights reserved.