relationship capsule

We laid out towels to play Spit, but you never tried. I like card games; they remind me of summer and playing jacks on wooden cabin floors.  Make me remember the sound of a broom on wet cement, the smell of baby powder, how hard it was to lift myself onto the top bunk. I used to hide things in the rafters, a box of "I was here, but now I’m gone.  I’ve left this stuff to carry on…"  I don’t remember what I put in the time capsule.  If I had one with you, what would we put in it to show what we were? 

My memories of us mostly happened at bars and restaurants where we ate off each other’s plates.  When my phone rang, I refused to answer it.  "Wow," you had said, "I can’t believe you didn’t pick up for me."  You thought it was consideration.  Really, I couldn’t imagine anyone interrupting us.  Ever.  Perhaps I could put bar napkins in the box, but years later, when I plucked them from our box, I wouldn’t remember the coy smile you make right before you let out a peal of laughter. I wouldn’t remember how stubborn you are, or how you’re just like me.  You complained that you had to work to find my softer side, got annoyed that I shared it with the world here, when it took you so long to find.  Underbelly.  I’ve seen yours too, when you talk about your father.  I can’t put that in the box.

I remember you most when you haven’t been there.  On the train to Coney Island for the parade I knew you’d love.  I tried to take a photo on the beach, but my batteries died.  I’d have put that photo in our box because I’d remember there, in a moment where you weren’t, I missed you.  Just one photograph, of neither of us, would remind me of my life without you, with you.  We live that way now.

I wanted to make you candied meat, to lay on the floor with you and make funny faces, but my living room carpet isn’t conducive to anything on the floor. You hate hot beverages and anonymous inconsideration. You want to move someplace warm, but once you do, you won’t know how to live without your boots, so you’ll talk of inventing open-toed boots, sturdy enough for a fight, but the sand can pass through, and at your will, they’ll slide off like your slick leather superhero cape. But you won’t invent them, despite your drawings. Instead you’ll lay on your floor and google search the idea.  Then you’ll call me to say you know EXACTLY what should go in our box, but when I ask, you’ll say you’re writing it in a letter to me.  It will be a surprise, you’ll say, and I’ll never know what you’d planned.



  1. This facet of your writing style, "past tense" as you term it, I think is my favorite of your styles. Its introspective, retrospective voice comes through, and I feel like I've wandered into the middle of a story whose beginning and end I am curious to know. Clarion writing, and impressive.

  2. Different people, different perspectives-On this, I don't know whether she is writing in the present or in the past tense. and if it is in the past tense, why she is writing this.

    Has something happened during the course of the day to remind her of someone else? Is the someone else dead and buried, or someone who regularly intrudes upon her imagination? Is this an imaginary box, or a real box that she keeps for all old relationships?

  3. I regret that I didn't make a relationship capsule while I had the time for it… I only have a few pictures left of that relantionship, but I also regret not taking more pictures of him. I miss him and I miss the "me" that was with him. But as you said, there are some things we just can't put in a box… I wish I could've saved some kisses inside.

  4. It's rare to find that one special person where you refuse to answer the ringing cell phone while you two are out. The only two people in a crowded room are just you and him. Rare.

    Joey B said, "And if it is in the past tense, why she is writing this?"

    Everything we write is basically 'past tense'….events that already happened, unless you are speaking of something regarding a present feeling or future hopes and desires. There is nothing wrong about telling stories of the past, —we all do it…

    Loved this post!

  5. I always regret, at the end of my relationships, that I never took the time to take pictures or make note of things that would remind me of who I was then. I can picture myself with them, but it almost feels like a dream, like it wasn't really me. I loved this post.

  6. So much is intangible; even words on a screen can be dissected into pixels without meaning. And even a video camera chronicling everything, whether in your mind or his, only shares perspective, not actual experience. The photos never taken, the sounds, smells and moments, they're in a capsule that you'll share forever, unless you choose to empty it out in part or in whole.

    Mine is half-clear and half covered; some things are visible for all to see, whether by choice or not. Some are semi-visible; and some are things we keep hidden and only between us, mostly because we can and we know that we will keep them between us for the rest of our lives.

    Somewhere, someone is listening to Paul Simon's Kodachrome out loud and not merely in his/her head.

  7. I tend to remember what Bono said as the character of MacPhisto, about video cameras-"Children tape your parents, Parents TAPE care!". It's as though we need to store up these little nuggets of love from our sig. other to remind us of where we were and really, where we are. I ran across a bunch of old stuff the other day from my ex GIF, and it amazed me where we were. Wished I would have sent more postcards from that place.

  8. I think candied meats are things like glazed ham or that sweetish red pork they sometimes serve in americanized chinese restaurants….but I could be wrong.

  9. I keep time capsules as well–photos, books of matches, that leaf he picked up for me.

    It's always nice to look back and see how far you've come and how happy you can be.

  10. "I remember you most when you haven't been there." So true. I love this post, memory is fascinating and you always manage to write about it so eloquently. thanks.

  11. This just made me think of my last relationship and how I totally messed it up. How I should have made a capsule from the begining to have a constant reminder of how beautiful she was.

  12. amazing post steph. your writing has evolved so amazingly. Following your blog has been difficult at times but overall it has been a joy to see you evolve

  13. Ravishing how these feelings have drip dropped in my mind a million times and how I assumed there were never any words for them…until now.

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