Aug. 2, 2005

brushes

it's about time i got this out. © 5.08.2005 10.49p

There are toothbrushes in my bathroom that are not mine. Mine is purple-blue, the color of a bruise; it has a cap, and is slightly worn, like everything else.

When people ask me about them, I say, “Oh, just a fan of Oral-B here, what can I say?” Or that I am just crazy about hygiene, but not crazy enough to throw toothbrushes away on a regular basis. Or something to that effect.

Still remember that first toothbrush you left, it was mint-green and white, capless and new. We had to buy it in the middle of the night, you hadn’t expected the conversation to last that long, and it was a long way home.

The next morning, you didn’t say anything about the night before. You left after lunch, leaving your once-used, mint-green toothbrush beside mine on the rack. I spent the whole afternoon thinking about it, if it had been deliberate, if it were a sign you were actually coming back.

And so I pinned my hopes on a forgotten toothbrush.

It took a while before you did come back, saying something about the wrongness of it all, about how we shouldn’t have –things we’d said, things we’d done, and all those necessary apologies afterwards.

I smiled like it didn’t matter, said an apology back like I agreed we each needed one. I thought about reminding you to get your toothbrush and take it home, but I forgot about it, and figured it was good enough an excuse to talk again.

And so I saw you, a long while after. Your hair had grown longer, and you’d grown a bit thinner, whereas my weight had nowhere else to go but up. I teased you about life being unfair, about being prettier than usual. And you blushed – you blushed like I hadn’t seen before, and it made me blush as well.

And I said, “We should go out some time.” To which you replied with a casual, hands-in-pockets “Sure, why not?” Yes. Why not indeed.

For a long while, we avoided the house and my bathroom and my toothbrush rack. I thought to myself, we didn’t need it anyway, we were happier outside the house because it was less complicated. Movies were easier than toothbrushes. Toothbrushes were just plain traumatic.

Until one night, you did come back to the house. And this time, you had another toothbrush with you. This time it was red and white and slightly used. It also had no cap on.

I heard you laugh softly as you entered my bathroom. “That green one’s mine,” you said.

“You forgot,” I teased, half-hurt actually, but it didn’t matter.

And you said, “Yeah, it seems I did.”

A little pause. “It doesn’t matter now, does it?” I said. You turned your head and looked at me. “You’re back here and you actually remember now.”

Apparently, I was very easy to please.

***

Every now and then, you’d come back; sometimes you spent the night, sometimes you didn’t, it drove me insane always but I kept my smile on, like it all didn’t matter too much.

***

There are five toothbrushes in my rack, and only one of them is mine – still bruise-purple. The other four are – were – yours. They are my own running tally of the many times I’ve let you back into this bathroom, into this room, into this life.

Everytime you came to your senses, you’d go disappear for a long while, and each time I had a new toothbrush to stare at hanging alongside mine on the rack. Each time I’d think about why you left it, if it actually stood for some informal– a very informal one at that – kind of arrangement akin to commitment, or the slightest promise of return, or something.

Everytime, I pinned my hopes of seeing you again on a slightly used toothbrush. It was silly but it was all I had.

Eventually, my hopes came in different colors and yes, brands. I couldn’t claim anymore that I was a fan of Oral B, actually, but I could still have claimed I was a fan of toothbrushes.

***

That last toothbrush you left was similar to mine, only brighter in color because it was new. For a while, it got confusing, since my toothbrush remained the same – colored bruise-purple, only it was old and worn, just like everything else.

You took a long time disappearing this time that I actually believed it’s for good. Sooner or later, I know I’m going to have to throw your brushes away. I’m starting with your mint-green one now. #