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Photos by Angie Jaime

W. Fullerton Ave. is part poem, part prose. It is an account of the weeks and months after the death of the writer’s grandmother, and other moments of loss and transition.

What I remember about my old apartment, the last day I’d ever see you was its silence.

Impenetrable and stretching on in time in both directions.

Even my memories played out in pantomime.

I live in a new home now just up the street.

The apartment is new but up until now, I haven’t had a chance to polish off the rust on the brass bar cart you helped bring home in the rain that one day.

You would like it here.

The silence from that sun-soaked afternoon carries into this new place.

Where to hang this painting? How should I angle the couch?

Trivial decisions, all made in a vacuum.

The rumble-screech-rumble-screech of the Blue Line outside my window is the only noise now and it tells me that things go on, in both directions.

I wonder if you can sense what I’m doing here.

You always had a knack for knowing when I let myself get caught up in the details to stall before I get to the point.

Which is to say, this is an amputation and I’m left wondering how I’ll walk again.

She died three weeks ago.

I was with her as she died in that cramped room in Mexico.

Christ atop a cross hanging on the wall.

I held my father as he wept into my shoulder.

Me?

I’d been anticipating her death all my life. Wondering about it as a little girl, the way we think of those who are “old.”

When it did occur it remained, distanced, removed from the daily-ness of my life. It was the natural order of things and she’d led a long and fruitful life.

Fruitful.

Fruit.

The seed-bearing structure of flowering plants.

Bearing.

I say that instead of happy because as we all know that’s not how life really is.

The day she died there were things to do.

Arrangements to make.

Lists to make and scratch out when the tasks were complete.

I can only describe the following hours and days as a new arrangement of computational functions.

An update to this version of my OS.

I left again the following weekend. This time not to mother country, but across town.

There were things to pack.

Movers to call.

There was a new job and I needed to tell these strangers that the woman who raised me was dead.

I had to form these words with my mouth and throat, clearly, and not vomit into my lap.

I did not vomit into my lap.

I did not vomit into my lap.

That was good.

My voice held.

My friends would come over in the evenings, sit in silence or tuck the blankets around me.

Busying about my house and throwing out piles of stale takeout containers.

Would you like to take a bath, they’d ask.

Alone and together at the same time, the way only my closest friends know how to leave me in peace.

When they’d finally leave, they’d ask me if I would be okay.

And I would be.

Until morning.

Losing her.

Tumbling into grief of losing you.

Did we have a fight? How could I fix it if I couldn’t remember how it started? Then I remembered.

A sunken feeling.

For weeks or maybe years, every morning this is how I met the day.

It’s like a long valley, only I can’t tell whether it’s in one direction or some kind of circular trench.

A loop.

The Loop.

A structure, series, or process the end of which is connected to the beginning.

Everything repeats.

A shadow of me would go back, if only we could try once more to be happy again. Letting go feels like a betrayal, an affront to your trust in me. You’d say I was foolish for holding onto grief like a totem.

Can we try again? That can’t be, you said, or else this would have all been in vain. But how will you find me if I’m not where you left me, I said, but only inside my own head.

But toast can’t be bread again and that tiny place I called home is not mine anymore and you aren’t either.

Angie Jaime lived the first 27 years of her life within a 40 mile radius of the place she was born in Chicago. She currently resides in Los Angeles…for now.

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