The other day I was trying to clear some clutter off the counters, but so much of it is Jon’s stuff. We have a small apartment with very little storage. I can’t seem to convince the man to use a file box. He gets irritated when you move his stuff. Just yesterday he asked me to please put some important document away in whatever place I put that stuff and I propped my hands on my hips and asked, “What are you going to do if I die in some terrible accident and you don’t know where any of your shit is?”
And he said, “Stomp around and be angry.”
So it gathers, little mountains that say Jon here, Jon there, Jon everywhere.
One of the items that perpetually lives on the kitchen counter is his flight log. He always fills it out in this secretive way, he won’t look up, he acts like he’s doing something he doesn’t want me to catch him doing.
I used to love looking at my dad’s logbooks, all the places he’d been, the tail numbers, the destinations. Sometimes he kept notes in the margins about the flight, what he saw, who he took, why he went.
Jon didn’t strike me as someone with the same kind of reflectiveness. My Dad can really be quite romantic. He cries a lot, which is hilarious to type, because he had such a hard edge in his profession that he was known throughout the aviation community as a “wild ass motherfucker.”
I opened Jon’s logbook. It dated back to late 2009, which was a big year for him for many reasons, some good, some bad. I flipped through the years—the time he spent ferrying scientists back and forth across the Northern Marianas Islands, trips from Montana to Missouri, little ferry flights from the Southeast. And then, one entry: ROSIE AND I. And a few pages later, another: ROSIE AND I.
It made me feel like… it made me feel like:
Have you ever seen a photograph that someone who loves you took when you weren’t looking? It’s amazing, because you can feel the echoes of their love in it. I felt that all the time when I was in a relationship with a photographer far better than me, and I could feel that love drain away right through the transparency of his photos of me. I love looking at the photos I take of Jon because I feel the softness of my affection in all of them. Sometimes when I show him my photographs I can see the gathering of his throat. His eyes become wet. I understand the feeling. How we touch without touching.