I know Tania is okay, that she thinks about me, that she still loves me. Luis tells me that sometimes, in the middle of the night, the phone rings at home. There's no voice, just breath, and then they hang up. It's her, I'm sure of it.
I haven't been able to forget her. I miss her every night. I sleep naked with the hope that one day she'll cross the room's threshold and come lie down next to me. Because I can't stop loving her. I've tried and I can't do it. I've made love to eight or ten more women, and every time I penetrate I remember Tania's warm belly on me and I close my eyes and think of her."
This is from the final lines of Guillermo Arriaga's The Night Buffalo.
When I met Rebecca, I...don't even know how old I was. I don't know what year it was, or what state I was in, or who I was with. But I met her, and I almost instantly fell in love with her. It was her hair, and her smile. Her funny shaped nose. Her hands, fingernails, thighs, and ankles. I loved it all so much that I can't really put it into words. Even now, however many years later, it's as if the words to explain my love for her just don't exist, and I don't have to means to create them. I loved her unceasingly, and unconditionally. And I think she loved me too.
I was traveling at the time. I know that much. I think I was in Chicago, maybe, or Milwaukee. I remember the midwest when I remember her, even though she was (and maybe still is) somewhere in New England. But I distinctly remember loving her through a terrible winter. We would stay up all night, well into the morning, laying on the telephone together, and talking to each other about all the things we didn't talk to other people about. We talked about what we wanted to do, we talked about what we wanted from each other. We eventually would talk about our children; twin boys, Harold, and Brody. They never really existed, but if our wishing for them hard enough could have made them real, it would have.
Once, she sent me a large envelope. Inside of it, it had a half smoked cigarette, stained with her lipstick. It had a smaller package filled with strings, all cut to her measurements, so that when I pieced them all together, I would know exactly how tall she was, how wide her hips were, how broad her shoulders were, how thick her waist was; she was smaller than I had imagined by a great deal. There was a pair of her panties (clean), stuffed into an empty cigarette box. There was a lock of her hair, tied with a red string inside yet another cigarette box. And there was a copy of Guillermo Arriaga's The Night Buffalo. I read it all in one sitting, while i inhaled the smell of her perfume from the lock of her hair (Chance, by Chanel.)
We would often reference this book when we spoke, specifically, the phrase "Do you know?" this meant "You know how much I love you, right?"
Just like in the book.
Soon after I got this envelope from her, and I read this book for the first time, everything about us fell apart. I can't say when, though I do know why. That's not this story, though. It was sudden, and bracing. One day, she wasn't there, and I didn't know any more. She had not known for some time before me. And she decided to leave me before she lost me.
As I flip through the pages of this book, I find myself drawn again to the passages she underlined for me to read again and again. Some lines, less than ten words long, that I sat and read hundreds of times. It's a stark contrast to my own notations, which consist of sharp, thick black lines, striking out every mention of a character called Rebecca.
And as I close the last page, the faintest bit of that perfume waft off the paper, written on by her hand; "Jonah, do you know?"
I think of her often.