I went to our old apartment on a Thursday afternoon when I knew he was at work. My best friend and I came in with boxes we had taken from behind the liquor store before they were crushed. My books. My beaten-up copy of "The Joy Of Cooking" with cake batter splotches on the cover. A well-worn and well-loved paperback of "Kitchen Confidential". I had read the book so many times that I felt like Bourdain and I were close personal friends. I referred to him as "Tony", like we were.
A box full of yarn. Fun fur, Red Heart acrylic, Lion Brand thick & quick, bamboo. A variegated felting wool in brilliant orange, green, purple and black. We put the yarn in a Crown Royal box.
Under the pile of yarn was a sleeve of photos.
Washington Photo, downtown.
I cleared a spot off the couch and sat down with the photos.
There we were, our early days spent together.
Kissing on New Years Eve outside a bar. We'd only been dating for a few months and I had only turned twenty-one a few months earlier. The snow fell around us.
A handful of misplaced engagement photos.
I wore a yellow dress.
Almost able to smell the roses in the garden behind us.
Me dancing with my dad at our wedding reception. I could almost hear the music as I touched the glossy surface of the photo.
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy...
A picture of us together, ready to get into the car and drive away. Oreos, cream-side down stuck to the windshield, lipstick writing on the back window. The sun setting heavy in the late July sky.
I heard her come back up the stairs and open the door.
Without me realizing it, a tear has snaked its way down my cheek and puddled on my shirt. I wipe it away with a fingertip, but it leaves the faintest, dampest spot behind. No one would even know it was there, except for me.
"What did you find?" she asks, picking up another box to take out. "Get that one over there by the TV, then I think we'll be done."
I walk over and pick up the final box. I can hear her voice, sounding like it's coming from underwater.
"Did you find anything interesting?" she asks.
"Bupkis," I answer.
I lock the door behind me, slide the key under the door and leave for the very last time.