The first time I saw you was at the Sea-Tac airport the morning after a red-eye from Dulles. I was still waking up. It could have been the consciousness was jarred by a combination of time-zone fuzziness and low pressure bloat, and my ears were ringing from the recompression, but whatever it was I seemed to be swimming through a twilight reality.

The terminal was well lit with strong artificial lighting to dispell the gloom of the overcast gray outside. It was raining, raining like tears, the windows covered in sheets of droplets.

I saw you in half profile. There you were, walking down the concourse. I burst into a run to catch you. It was you. My heart was beyond gladness. I was ten feet away and about to put a hand on your shoulder when

You walked into the arms of another man. Then you turned to kiss him and your nose and chin were all wrong.

I felt dizzy, my equilibrium gone. Blurriness returned. I looked at you again. The shock returned me to reality, and I could see what I hadn't seen before. The back was yours, the hair was yours. Though I wanted all of it to be you, and to rip you away from his arms and enfold you into mine, it wasn't. A woman traveler was back in the arms of her love.

My heart imploded under twenty thousand atmospheres of pressure. So close. She was so close, but she wasn't you.

The second time was in Lumpini Park in Bangkok. A field of black haired adults practiced tai chi. Their movements were graceful, fluid and peaceful. It looked like a wheat field bending under a soft breeze.

A movement just outside of my field of view caught my eye. It was your distinctive hair, so different from the black haired Asians there. You had looked at me, and then you had turned your back and walked away. A thousand people were taking the morning air, and you slipped away into the crowd like a sylph. I ran through the maelstrom of bodies to where you had been. I looked frantically in all directions. Two blondes were by the shacks where the evening market convened, but they were Lufthansa flight attendants. You'd been alone. It was your face, those cheekbones, that royal chin. Wasn't it? I thought it was. I couldn't be sure.

I looked for you for an hour, then another. You were so close. I had to find you. I am not complete without you. Wherever you are, you need to be here. You need to be with me. I need to be with you. There is no other choice in this life. We did not choose this fate, it chose us.

I left Lumpini Park at noon after searching behind every tree, down every path. You were not there. I wanted to leave a note for you. It would have said "I searched for you everywhere. I would not leave this place without you, unless I was convinced you weren't here. I would never leave you, my darling."

The third time I was in bed. I awoke slowly and gently, your smell pulling me out of dream-unconsciousness. I was on my left side. My eyes opened slowly and unsurely, because I didn't know if I wanted to see what my eyes would tell me I was seeing.

It was your softly breathing form. You too were lying on the bed, your mass dimpling the bed. I saw your bare shoulder peeking up above the sheet's edge. Your bare back. The spine I knew so well, the S-curve down to your waist, where your hips flared out. You were sleeping so gently as you had done for so many nights, for so many years. Your hair was carelessly strewn around your neck and face. I saw that wavy hair and wanted to touch it, the hair I'd known since my youth, wanted to smell it, wanted to breath in your scent and then thank you for coming back to me. I wanted nothing more than to gather you back into my arms and be grateful for just one more moment with you.

And so I reached out to your form, and as soon as the first muscle moved my arm that first centimeter, and action made real the dream, tears boiled in my eyes and I was racked with sobs, because you were no longer there. You were gone.

I closed my wet eyes and saw your tombstone again. I was watering your grave with tears. I knelt and kissed the grass, and wished I could have you back, have you back, just one more hour, back here with me.