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Box of Clippings
K.R. Randen

Anniversaries of relationships are not intended for life following the relationship.

No one tells you about this during the relationship, filled with roses and poems and tributes and smiles. No twinge of transience is felt while leafing through books, discovering pressed wildflowers taken from romantic walks. Possiblys, Could bes, and Maybes shirk from doe-eyed photographs framed with ticket stubs, and amusement park wrist tags mottled by water rides.

After birthday, date, and dinner flowers have been dried into garlands and arrangements that inspire Laura Ashley, and after token teddy bears and stuffed animals, obscure pillows and duvets, no one tells you that the anniversary of the anniversary following the relationship quite simply and ostensibly hurts.

During the relationship, no one says, “Enjoy this, because in a few years, this will all be a box of clippings.”

We’re not supposed to say this. Why be the one to destroy the relationship for someone else?

Margaret Thatcher, with practical shoes, told former President Bush to stand up and stop pussy-footing around Iraq. After he left Number 10, she said to her aides, “I should be in the spine-renting business.”

Me, with impractical shoes, chose a more impractical business -- matching up and bringing together lost soul mates. Case number Seven seems to be working out very well. A few hints here, a few cleverly orchestrated random encounters there, add vodka, stir, and voilà: all the licking and sucking one could hope for.

January, contrary to Hallmark and similar corporate conventions of wisdom, has always been a month for romance. If I ever have a perfume or cologne I will name it January. If I want a romantic effect, I’ll call it Janvier, or for a modern effect I’ll call it Di Yi Yue. Then again, Janvier might become Jan Veer, akin to the destruction of the otherwise pretty name Avril Lavigne, and Di Yi Yue will never be pronounced correctly. Marketing can worry about this later.

January was when Couple Seven got together. She objected to her former June Through December, saying he was so wonderful, gave her everything she needed, was attentive, devoted, adoring -- except wasn’t cute enough, had a pot belly, and didn’t know where to put things in the kitchen. And, once wore black pants and white socks. Valid, as are all rationalizations designed to end a relationship politely. Why delve into the inconsiderate, incorrigible perversions of a momma’s boy who has finished serving his purpose as a healthy rebound?

The other half of Couple Seven had no real objections. He thus tasked himself to extraction from what was not, oddly enough, a torrid steamy love affair with an accountant. With that over, a collective sigh, then renewed focus. Vowels lilting and maple leaves swirling through the Canadian cold front; a took, a loon, and a toon later, he was hers and she was his.

I want so much for Couple Seven. They are, at present, the happy ending for a Lifetime-esque TV movie. It is the ending we in life’s theater all hold our breaths for, the chantilly lace and perfectly lit backdrop remedy to the grey loneliness and the brown voices of despair. It is only natural that I want to be helpful and kind and supportive. I want to be the friend who stays with them, learning each new component of their relationship, following her tales of sex, as I have, for six years, with all of her boyfriends. I sit with him in silence as he just enjoys her, the thrill of her, the just rewards and her just deserts. He doesn’t speak about what they do -- an unnecessary precaution since I know about it already from her.

I want to be helpful and kind and supportive but naturally can’t, because the glow of their togetherness reflects somberly upon the togetherness that went missing from my life three years ago. I want to be the friend who stays with them but can’t -- watching them only emphasizes the fading memories I have that I wish were still as vibrant and new as theirs are. I want to learn each new component of their relationship, but already know what they are -- I even know when and how they’ll happen. I don’t mind following her tales of sex, but have known him too long to really be interested, and instead form a sieve in my mind through which his body parts can exit as unconsidered as possible. I can’t sit with him in silence as he enjoys her because he can’t enjoy sitting in silence with me; he’s too suspicious of what I know -- which is very little -- and he’s too suspicious of what I’m hiding -- which is nothing. Nothing I can say to him will convince him otherwise -- nor should it.

And the best way I know how to do this is to leave them alone. They bask in the gauzed radiance of honeymoon consuming grapes, wine, and soft pillows of brie studded with nut. I have my own moon to gaze upon, reflected in the waters of the lake I no longer swim in.



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