I steal keys. No. I take keys by accident. I slip them in my denim or khaki pocket. I slip them into my backpack that has traveled with me, or my purse that was a gift. They end up on a desk shelf that is covered in a red and white scarf, that is from Spain. A girl I used to live with gave it to me. She has become a woman who is calm and satisfied in her life. That is beautiful.
When I go to visit her in a city of evergreen trees, gourmet food carts, microbreweries, quirky coffee shops, and youth, she reminds me of what “we” feels like. Not the familial “we.” That “we” can sometimes feel involuntary.
One of the first things you learn about relationships in Psychology class is proximity. It needs to be convenient. Whether it is friendship or romance, they need to be readily available. For four years she was near. We grew close in this city that attracts progression and empathy. Convenience left when we both fled to form “we” with others in different countries and cities and beaches. Each of us was nervous that our “we” would not survive the distance.
The scarf is from Sevilla, a city that forced me to rethink the concept of color and sensuality. The keys on this scarf open doors. There is a globe under the shelf with the scarf and keys, and every once and a while I remind myself of the places I formed “we” in. It started as “I” but travelers attract other travelers. It is easier to be lost as “we” than as “I.”
I did not steal the keys. I simply never brought them back. Those doors would be opened in other ways. Keys can be remade. Copied. I always told myself it was laziness that kept me from returning them. In reality it was voracity. I kept them, and therefore the memoirs within them.
“I” becomes an ugly word, if you use it long enough. At first it can feel noble. Strong. “I” is the only pronoun you need. Independence. Innovation.
That’s the beginning. However, by the end “I” can be construed as selfish. Greedy. Fearful. Lonely.
“We” becomes gorgeous. Full. Whimsical.
My “we” with the woman who is calm and satisfied has survived. Proximity is no longer our ally. We are divided by a 16 hour drive that starts with giant green trees, and ends at the ocean. This distance is much shorter than some of my other past “we”s . Not all those survived. I have consumed those past ones with a ferocity. I digested and they became part of me. Their memories have been spewed all over my walls.
They will come with me wherever I go. And so the times of “I” will become a condensed form of “we.”