The cousins who hosted Thanksgiving are one of those exceptionally happy couples who have been married for a few years but still act like they just met yesterday. Their house is filled with wedding memorabilia--framed invitations, formal portraits, handmade house gifts, piles of photo albums. On the wall of the foyer is their seating chart from the reception, framed and calligraphed, another memory preserved. After handing over my coat, I scanned the chart and before I even saw it, I knew what I would find. There it was--Glenn's name next to mine. How annoying! He'd bitched and complained about going to that wedding, had snarked about my cousin's economies of scale and taste, had criticized their photographer for being piss poor and had generally been a pill. What right had he to have his name on their foyer wall? I wanted to take the chart down and erase those letters, delete his name like I've deleted him from my life and my family's life. He had no place in that house, even if it was just a name.
If only. Later, after the big meal, when my cousin's wife's mother and her partner were lounging around the family room asking questions about history, I stood on the fireplace hearth and looked up at a group photo my cousins had taken on the steps of the church where they'd married. There I was, grinning (I had been so cold), and there he was beside me in his cycling sunglasses, his receding hairline and Irish smile out there for all to see. All I could think of were those episodes of the X-Files where someone would fade out of a picture whenever they died or were dissappeared, and how much I wanted that to happen. Or maybe I could cut and paste a picture of Lunchboy in there. It was irritating. Glenn's face is the last one that my cousins should have looking down on them in their home. He has no place there or anywhere here. They are permanent and he wasn't.