The sad thing is how our relationship mirrors all my other romances. Fragmented. Thin. Except that I’m getting worse. In my twenties I would have been too proud to beg a woman to hold me. I didn’t know enough to cry. I wouldn’t dream of pressing my nose against someone’s chest, saying, “I’m so sad. I don’t know what’s happening to me.” And I have less to give.
“You have to be careful about not sleeping,” Roger tells me. “You can do permanent damage to your memory.” I had sent him what I’ve been writing, my “murder” book. He wants to create a special code so I can call him in an emergency but I tell him it’s not necessary. “Are you really that sad?” he asks. “No,” I say. “Not usually. Sometimes. It’s hard to write about all the boring times in between, which is what most of life is.”
All systems of domination create stories of their own benevolence. The imperialists arrive to tame the savages. We tie the noose around Saddam Hussein’s neck, place a bag over his head, the floor swings open beneath his feet, and his dead body hangs in the gallows. I was traveling with President Bush in 2004, three days after the pictures were published of Abu Ghraib. He stood near third base in a little league stadium and gave the same speech he gave in every city. Except right in the middle of his speech he slid in one extra sentence. He said, “Thanks to our actions, Saddam’s torture chambers have been closed.”
“Did he just say what I think he said?” I asked the local reporter next to me. The crowd cheered. They had no idea he was saying this for the first time. They thought it was part of the speech. But it wasn’t. It was the official response to evidence to the contrary.
We sit for another hour at the lake drinking lemonade. I don’t know what it’s in response to but I tell my father, “I’m straight-forward. I’m an honest person.”
“You?” he says, laughing like it’s the funniest thing he ever heard. “Sure you are.” Before we met I thought I had created a way for us to see that our memories were equally valid. I don’t know how to spend time with someone who thinks I’m a liar. We both think we’re indulging each other. We both think we’re doing one another a favor by pretending to forget.