There is a part in the Unbearable Lightness of Being where Milan Kundera talks about poetic memory, about how what you love becomes inscribed in you over time, and even though you change and grow and shed yourself it remains with you over time, under your skin, like DNA, like notes in a music box. And when I think about what my heart has outlined, what it has traced with its fingertips, I think about that day in the lighthouse when it felt like time slowed down and reached out for us, placed us across from each other like a matching set, like pieces on a chess board.
But time is elusive; it has woven itself into our movements, the chessboard has become cracked and, mend as we might, there is no way to replicate the discovery of experience. We know each other now, like Kasparov and Karpov sitting in stalemate, neither of us quite willing to punch the clock. And it makes me think about Beethoven’s les deux notes qui s’aime, the two notes that love each other, and how even when they’re duelling they wont let the other fall off. There was a time when that constancy was like oxygen to me, the safest part of the day and the only hours that I wanted to live in. It gave me a pattern to hopscotch, red, black, red, black. I could move anywhere and it thrilled me, the endless combinations.
But lately I find myself loitering around the back alley of the chessboard, toes curled, peering over the side, tilted towards a next I can’t quite fathom, or castling myself into corners in order to contemplate which pieces I will have to sacrifice in order to start over; your silhouette from my relfection, my breath from your thoughts. The cost of check, the loss of mate.
And I wonder if you are on your side of the board, thinking these same thoughts. Because if we are going to do this then I want it to be together, like everything else we have done. And I remember everything: how you never pushed, but leaned, how you taught me to waltz through parameters; red, black, red, black, diagonal, forward, back.
But I cannot move backwards anymore, even to Beethoven, and I cannot move forward except in waltz. So we find ourselves in checkmate, the absence of movement, there is nowhere left to turn to and already I feel the shedding of ourselves; red, black, red, black, pieces are falling all around us and I am scared, I am already lonely, though I am still here on the chessboard with you, holding your arm. And it hurts, I know that this is searing; it is my skin, too, what blankets you. But this is not about loss, I see that as I peer over the edge of the chessboard, trace the articulation of our time together, a needle and thread-like chiaroscuro that draws back the curtain of our hearts. And that is the point, isn’t it? To be able to move through the world like that, even in suffering, to be opened up?
So walk. Walk with me to the edge of the chessboard and peer down, consider everything that might not happen, and then look up. See me looking back at you with my eyes and my heart and with everything that remembers and listen to them say I will not let go, even as I take my hand from your arm. And in that last second before we leap towards everything that is foreign to the both of us, I want you to listen for the cadence that surfaces, everytime we shed ourselves, that rises like the notes in a music box.