(Unsent Unwritten Letter to Husband)
Catherine Lacey

I want to watch that video you showed me once of the twin babies saying the same syllable to each other over and over and over. I want to watch that because we both know that's all life is, really, that's all it is. We're all twins and clones and remakes of each other; we're all pairs unpaired; we're all speaking the same syllables at each other and why is it that I have to go running off into some people-less solitude? What is inside my solitude but me, saying the same syllable to myself over and over and over, trying to make sense of it, trying to rearrange it. Husband, I saw on the news that a baby Grand Emperor penguin swam two thousand miles accidentally and ended up on Peka Peka beach, near Wellington. It was a very long accident he made, those two thousand miles, but a brilliant one, a valiant one. They said he ate sand and driftwood, for lack of knowing what to eat, where he was, what he needed, why he'd swum two thousand miles away from the other penguins, and when got here he didn't know what to do with himself, so other people -- veterinarians, zoologists, local millionaires -- started doing things with him instead. I don't care what they do with him because to me that's not the point. All I can think of are all the months he spent swimming alone, without any other similar being near him. Maybe sharks swam past him. Maybe schools of tiny white fish nipped at his feet, then grew disinterested, swam on. Maybe grey whales rose beneath his tininess, a single bulging whale-eye as large as his head. And he swam through the blue daytime ocean and the navy storming ocean, the cold black ocean under a moon or a half moon or no moon at all, and each night of his swimming a different moon was there, and the moon's slow wink was all for him, for his solitude, for his dedication, for his perseverance, for his tiny little self that kept going on across the constant plane of water, water, water and no one who loved him and nothing he knew and no others to swim with at all. I wonder if he ever came to depend on the great nothing he'd found out there, to spend time with it like it was his only friend, his whole community, the lover he loved the most. I wonder if the nothing became something to him; I wonder if that happened because it had to, because otherwise he'd collapse under the weight of his isolation. What was he but a pair unpaired, living alone instead of in the cold huddle of the other penguins who he really meant to be with. Enough with my ridiculous metaphor, Husband. Maybe it is time for me to be clear, or let me be clearer than I have yet been: I didn't want to leave you to become someone else's something, someone else's twin to talk to, someone else's clone to mirror, someone else's anything. It was not that kind of leaving. I am not that kind of gone. I am gone but not so gone that there is no possibility of me coming back, though maybe I have gone out far enough now that you are now preparing for a future without this particular wife -- so Husband, if this is so, please keep in mind you are still legally obligated to me, written like a law into my life and we cannot remove ourselves from each other so easily, with such impulse, or, at least, this is somewhat true. I, you should know, have made no plans. I left without a particular reason, though I probably do have a few non-particular reasons -- like unnamable feelings and unnamable secrets and un-understandable feelings, feelings about secrets and feelings about facts and feelings about feelings, and if they are all un-understandable can I call them derstandable feelings? Why was it that we always derstood each other? We never had a lack of derstanding and that never failed to infuriate me, to make me feel like, in fact, we were never really together, but just alone in each other's general vicinity. Now I have all these rememberings of our derstanding to replay replay replay and the energy only to fidget myself dense, out here in my husband-less life, but I can also see (maybe) some kind of clearing in the future (perhaps) some distant plane stretching out, some grassy patch of many-years-from-now where we are (possibly) fine and (possibly) together. In this possibility maybe we decided to get a dog or a child or maybe just a good bottle of wine and we are sitting smugly at a sidewalk café sipping it, sipping our lack of responsibilities, watching stroller-pushing moms bumble by, lugging their children and babies and unhelpful dogs and slacked post-birth bellies, all the weight and moan of their decisions hanging on them and asking, always asking for more, to be fed, to be watched, to be loved, and if we must be either children people or dog people, I will say that it makes me feel the least unwell to believe that become dog people, not children people, in that distant patch of grassy future. Being dog people would suit us because we can follow the simple repeated emotion of a dog, the predictable needs of a dog, the gentle forgetfulness of a dog -- and yes, you may have wanted children in the past and I may have wanted-to-want children in the past and maybe, perhaps, you only wanted-to-want but disguised that wanting-to-want as simple wanting, and perhaps I really just wanted children but couldn't manage to admit it as anything other than a wanting-of-a-want because I feared the burden of a plain want, the frightening possibility of a desire, of a desire that would not necessarily be met or the possibility of that desire being met unpeacefully -- but no matter now, that's the past, that was some fork in the hypothetical road we didn't take and now we can stay here in this unwanting, this past-our-timeness, this future and its disintegrating idea of the past. So, lets say, let's just say we are dog people so when we want to leave our dogs somewhere we just hire dog sitters but we don't call the sitters hourly to ask how the dogs are doing because dogs are pretty much always doing more or less the same and, thank god for all that sameness, the simple dogness of dogs, all the qualities of dogs that they do not share with babies, with those pre-people people and all their warm, slimy wanting and their embarrassingly exaggerated needs, their screaming red-faced hunger and their bloody murder nap-needing, and how those needs are just the same as ours, only magnified and reflected back at us -- and do you know what? Some people are not the kind of people who can stand those kinds of things, magnified and reflected things, warm, slimy, needing tiny people things. Some people just prefer dogs. Husband, all I mean is there is a future and I am in it. All I mean is there is some distant tomorrow I'll come home and yes, it will be a different place and we'll never be the same husband and wife we were before I left, before you wanted, before I wanted to want and then wanted to not want to want. But maybe I will be a better wife, the kind of wife you don't have to yell at in that way you always have, the kind of wife who doesn't worry about who you quickly became in a moment and un-became at the Spanish Hospital, the kind of wife who doesn't want to destroy all possible futures, the kind of wife who doesn't wonder where she has been for the last few years and why it is that you haven't found her yet. Our lives will be different when I get home. But, please, husband, please know I did not leave to become some other husband's wife, some other husband's life, some other life's wife. I still have many of the same senses of belonging to you. I still have a little ring around my brain like a diamond one or a Saturn one. I am asking you, I know, to suffer, to stand very still and feel as little as possible.