She gave me a picture of ducks. When she left a few weeks later, I put that picture at the top of the box of her things. I didn’t want the ducks to remind me of walking together with her hand curled in mine. I live near ducks. Unexpectedly, I delight in their comings and goings. She found this out of character interest in bird spotting endlessly amusing. One day I pointed out the return of the canvasbacks and she looked at me, her mouth agape, with a who-the-fuck-are-you expression that melted away into a smile. Coots are my favorite birds. They are small and black and everything they do looks difficult. Against the effortlessness of most other birds, coots seem to struggle to do the most basic things, like walking and swimming. She humored my love for coots. We took pictures of them. She held the camera while my legs dangled over the side of the embankment that borders the lake and the coots wandered over to see what was up with me. This was my favorite photo that she took that day.
Rhye sing: “I’m a fool for that shake in your thighs/I’m a fool for that sound in your sighs/I’m a fool for your belly/I’m a fool for your love.” Beautiful sentiment. The images reveal the kind of intimacy that buckles your knees when you are in love. Sometimes all you want to do is see the person you love turn in bed and get up. The movement of their body is enough to overwhelm you with affection. Or to have them close enough to feel their breath on your body. Is there anything better than that? I don’t think there is. When you feel that way, there is nothing that can replace those things, and thus you are vulnerable to all the sorrow that can accompany that kind of surrender. We are fools to let ourselves go but only bigger fools would deny themselves that surrendering. More so than the lyrics, the musical atmosphere of the song places you in that circle of desire, makes you want to love and be loved with blind abandonment. Even while the song reminds you of the perils of giving yourself up to love, it nonetheless makes you wish you were in love.
Giving her the picture of the ducks back did not let me think of her any less. The lake and the birds still reminded me of her. I still wanted to go back to loving her. The picture of the ducks became a memory that folded back into other memories, so that instead of being something that reminded me of her, it ended up becoming something I remembered every time I remembered her.