Jordan Tiberio in collaboration with Maxwell Runko. “316 Days Since”, New York, NY. March 2013.
It had been 316 days since we began when we took these photographs of each other.
It has been 100 days since they were taken.
It has been 71 days since I last saw you in the flesh.
It has been 21 days since I moved from this place, where we are permanently fixed in time.
Nothing is mine in that room anymore. I left some cuts in the waxed tile and forgot to sweep the dead flower petals and dust bunnies up, but that is all that is there which I can claim. It is someone else’s space to make a memory in now, someone who will never have the memory of these moments here in these photographs. It’s as if they never happened, but they did, didn’t they? None of this is mine anymore, but at the same time, it always will be. Once it was all mine.
I could be bitter that it is not mine anymore. I could wallow in sadness because of all the intangibleness that it was. I could be angry that some higher power dealt me a tough hand of cards this past year. But in the end, what good would that do for me? It is better to have love and lost than to never have loved at all, they say. It’s not your fault and it’s not my fault, that was one of our unspoken truths. But I can’t help but think how bizarre it is how the human body and soul works, and that it needs its’ companion beside it to make it feel whole. How sad it is to end a chapter in a relationship because the two souls face a sad reality, daily, of roads, money, and time.
Not many people understood you and I, including myself at times. A long distance relationship is not something people can relate to unless they have been in one themselves. I don’t get to ask you to come over to my place. I don’t get to listen to the rustle of bedsheets from another body besides my own. I don’t get to eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner with you. I don’t get to hear your voice live in the same atmosphere as mine. I can’t touch you. I can’t see you. People would always tell me how happy they were for me because of you, but I can’t see how they could have been telling the truth. Yes, I was happy, and I don’t regret a single part of you, but it’s plain torture, don’t you see? I was like the hamster on its’ wheel. Running and running and running to reach some kind of goal, but what was it? What was I looking for? No matter how much I gained from you, I still can’t think of what I was running towards all the time. Maybe I was running towards you. Towards the euphoria that was my world whenever we said “hello”.
I learned a lot from all of our “hellos” to “goodbyes”. Traveling those 300 plus miles back and forth multiple times over a year, I gained my own special routine associated with you. I had the Greyhound rest stop of choice memorized (Chesapeake House, Maryland), and learned to bring my own cleaning supplies with me on the bus after some creature bit my damn ear. Nyquil became my best friend some of those bus rides after my first run in with strep throat on my one visit to you in January. I learned that no matter how hard we try, it’s impossible for us to sleep a proper amount of hours when we’re blessed enough to be in each other’s presence. I had strep throat three times, and you yourself had a cold that would just never go away. I learned back in February when were both on antibiotics for strep (super romantic, right?) that’s it’s probably not the best idea to go to the Bronx the night of a record breaking snow storm. And chances are if you think a train isn’t coming… it probably is. Also, if one ever has the opportunity to walk down the middle of a deserted Lexington Avenue in 0 degree weather, the moment should be taken. Dollar slice pizza also tastes best at 5:30 in the morning on a small dorm room bed. I picked up on new forms of sharing with you, too. I contracted some of your mannerisms and vocabulary as time passed on. I catch myself acting them out lately, but I think it’s my way of holding onto you. We’d even accidentally match our shoes or clothes, we didn’t even have to try to be an obnoxious pair, it would just happen (Remember that picture Dane took of us the weekend we took these photographs? I have it.). I learned how to look past these surfaces we create for our bodies. I see past your exterior and am immensely attracted to the invisible bits that make up your soul. I wouldn’t be able to rid my mind of you if I tried, because your name is sewn into my skin. The wound of your name has long disappeared, now flowing somewhere through my blood.