i have never minded being alone. these days i seem to prefer it. i don’t get bored. i keep myself busy. cutting vegetables for roasting in someone else’s oven. scrubbing someone else’s toilet for the fourth month in a row. i didn’t mind scrubbing our toilets. i’ll forget my coffee three or four times before finally giving up on reheating it. instead i’ll sip it cold while folding hot piles of laundry on someone else’s couch and attempt to fit all we own in two dresser drawers and one side of your old closet. there’s pictures of you stacked in boxes here. as a baby, red cheeked and smirking even then, your dark eyes watching your mother behind the camera. a small hand outstretched. as a boy, long and beautiful in a way i only thought boys in books could be. blonde hair swept over your eyes. this must be where you started to get shy, unsure. your tan skin in summer. legs bent over the peddles of a bike. nuzzling a kitten. wrestling your brother. as a teenager, beaming over a new skateboard in one frame, eyes averted and hands stuffed deep in denim pockets in the next. as a young man, all brawn, a proud arm around a pretty girlfriend’s shoulder. a million christmas mornings. a picture of every birthday cake your mother ever made her boys. happy birthday jack. happy birthday adam. i like to imagine you as them. all the people you were before i met you.

i’m aching for our home. the one that burned and the one that we will build. i’m aching for a closet for boxes full of photographs. but for now i keep trying to carve the word into corners of our current existence. home. i string lights and make tea and try to remember it while it’s still hot. i look at faucets and bedspreads and i pray our children inherit the kindness in your eyes.

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