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My life story is the story of everyone I've ever met. Daughter. Writer. Jicarilla Apache and Laguna Pueblo. Band mama for Playboy Manbaby and Rubber Brother Records. Southwest born; raised in the land of lake and loon. Purveyor of songs with key changes, synchronized dancing, and smiles aplenty. On the road searching for a dream I had once.

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First Draft.

Sometimes I feel like I’m the only who lost you. You’d think after 52 years he’d want to talk about you more. You’d think that he’d be able to at least tell me something like, “Once, she didn’t want anyone to know she was drunk, so she cancelled her parent/teacher meetings and read books under the covers with a flashlight until she fell asleep.”

I wish he’d tell me what he felt the very first time he saw you. I know exactly how you felt when you saw his picture in a frame for the first time; smitten beyond belief and eager to meet your match. You were always better at preserving the memory for me so that I wouldn’t forget any detail or overlook the plot twist whereas he hoards what he knows and I sit here, guessing and trying to fill in the blanks. It’s been so long now that I’ve begun to forget what you smelled like. After it happened he let her take all your clothes to Goodwill before I had a chance to touch the fabric that wound itself so gently around you. Then he changed the message on the answering machine before I was able to unplug the damn thing and keep it for myself. I knew why he was doing these things so I kept repeating excuses for him. This didn’t stop me from sitting on the floor of your closet smelling the walls or drunk-dialing in the middle of the night hoping to hear your voice.

You still hang on the walls in the house but spends his time with J now. They go overseas to taste wine and practice house-flipping like it’s part of their weekly tithe. She buys me the kind of gifts you get for children you’ve never met…usually a frog in a basket or a craft meet blanket. They each dutifully forward me the Conservative e-mails you knew I hated and each time I get the notification, the sender reads “cbwise.” Why doesn’t he ever e-mail me about you? He could say, “Do you remember?” and I would say, “No, tell me.” And he would tell me and we would both say, “But don’t forget!” and possibly laugh or cry together. We wouldn’t have to be on opposite ends of the street, both waiting for you at the corner. It could be like you were kind of still here.

They wouldn’t believe me if I told them, but I’m the only one who saw you the night you saw god. No one else watched the way your eyes shone like the cosmos trapped in two glass marbles or the way your mouth popped open in awe. I asked what you were seeing but you couldn’t hear me then. You stared at a world I couldn’t see while they planned how to affordably set you on fire like a pigeon in the dress of a phoenix. Now they keep you in a cabinet and I, to wake the memory, sit in the dark with my eyes squeezed shut and watch you open the door to my knocking. “Hi hun,” you say. “Good to see you.”

Of course talking about my ex-fiance lately would lead to an onslaught of memorable ballads on the radio at work today. 

City and Colour, I love you, but I’ve heard “The Girl” one too many times lately. 

I have a lot to say about this lady but the fact of the matter is, she’s changed everything about my world for the better over the course of the last 2,920 days. I’ll know her for a thousand years and she’ll still be my favorite person in the entire world. Happy birthday, darling. We love you very, very, VERY much.