I turned away from the risen sun now hanging blood red before me and thought of a time--it now hardly seemed to have been my life--when I was waiting at a train station. A different desert. A different country. She arrived late that night and we nearly ran from the platform to the hotel, her bag banging against my thigh as I clutched it tight. I didn’t feel it then, but my leg stayed black and blue for a week. When we stepped out of the hotel and into a blue-grey dawn three days later it was only to get bread and another bottle of wine. Six months later we were married. I loved her so much that sometimes, watching her come toward me down a crowded city sidewalk, I felt like I’d been stabbed in the stomach. Almost unendurably painful and beautiful beyond words.
Five years later things were different. I’d say that I somehow loved her even more but something had risen up between us. Secrets will do that. Lies. Deception. Anger and tears. Finally, silence, worst of all weapons. We had been apart for three months and I was waiting for her in another city, another country. The train pulled away from the platform and she had not been on it. I tried to reach her by phone but there was no answer. Another train arrived and departed. And another. I doubted her and in all this that is the one thing for which I cannot forgive myself. I found a rundown hotel and stayed drunk in my room for three days, in honor of a time long ago. When I emerged, wrecked, into a bright summer afternoon I could hardly catch my breath. Everything was gone. I believed she had betrayed me, finally, but what I did not know was that I'd betrayed her. If only I’d been able to trust in her love for me, a love that I know now could never have been extinguished, no matter to what wretched depths I succumbed. If only I’d believed that she still loved me I would not be here in this endless desert waiting to die. I would be with her.
Photos are of the 16th St. Station, West Oakland, CA.