Set your alarm and wake when your dog is curled beside you and the sky is dark and the moon is still shining—the small, unexpected gift of its light pulling you out of bed.
Put on your slippers and robe, pad to the kitchen, plug in your white Christmas lights, take your vitamin and make your tea. Arrange the two cushions on top of your bed so you can watch the one white orb fade into the grey, then the swatches of pink. After 40 minutes, bow; put real pants on.
Walk your dog down to the neighborhood park and let her loose when you reach the first steps of the wooded canyon. Leash her when you come back out. Assume the electric fence she’s approaching isn’t actually on—that it’s just a ploy for the deer—and hold her when she cuts the morning with a gut-wrenching howl. Tell her you love her, that she’s a good girl each time she turns to look you in the eyes, unsure if her next step will bring the same. Tell her you are sorry, that she’s going to be ok.
Feed her bits from the chicken carcass you used for stock, let her lick your fingers. Collect the last remnants of the weekend: the green mug with his hot toddy, still full with a cinnamon stick bobbing up top, your water glass from the fireplace; add them to the pile in your sink. Do the dishes.
As you scrub, think of the letter he sent, the two hours you talked on the phone that one Sunday, how he said that was one of the best days he’s had. How it was. Wonder if you’re being rash. Remember that happiness is a choice. Imagine him pushing inside of her.
When you sit down to write, realize that the feeling inside you like a hot coal crumbling across your chest isn’t anger, but sadness—the feeling of hope dying out—and at least you feel alive. Pull out the hot pink ‘Pukka Love’ tea bag you’ve saved for a year, the one the man who was crazy about you gave to you, that you didn’t feel ready for. Tear it open and smell the rather ordinary scent of chamomile. Wonder at the power of packaging.
Facetime with a best friend for so long that you have to plug the phone into the charger and take a bathroom break. Tell her the story, how he just isn’t ready—and maybe never will be—that he won’t open himself, that there’s only so long you can stay in that space without that. Bow your head when she says, yes, you’re a poet, it’s who you are.
Feel the excitement as she shares her work; help strategize next steps, spend an hour debating leash law and psychoanalyze freedom and control. Remind her that her novel is amazing, that it’s better than the book you borrowed from him—when he’d asked if you wanted Dublin, Edinburgh or Washington DC—and breathe, just breathe when the next words are choked off by an alien howl ripping out of your chest.
Once off the phone, read the blogs she sends you, sit with the gift of inspiration. Check the yoga schedule. Drive to the woods and walk the dog with a thermos full of chai and your down hood pulled up over your head. Think of the projects you have going; how you could make them better. Take the short loop. Sit down at your computer with your new sequined heels strapped on. Go back to yesterday.
Break for yoga. Drive, lay down your mat. When your teacher asks if anyone has any injuries they’re working through, hold your hands to your chest in the shape of a heart. Feel your body move when a teacher comes up behind and presses a hand to your upper back, guiding the shoulders, shifting everything up and away. At the end, after sobbing through most of Savasana while Jeff Buckley sings Hallelujah and all of your attention is spent trying to control the volume of your crying, pull on your pink Ugg-like boots and welcome your teacher’s hug when he tells you that the class was for you. Nod and cover your tears with his chest, then thank him.
Drive home in silence. Walk the dog around the block in moonlight with a steaming cup of tea. Slice apples and bake a crisp. Spend some time on OkCupid, rating profiles with one and two stars, fight the urge to visit his profile, then write one message to some guy with a nice smile even if it makes you more sad. Log off, take out the crisp, don’t care that the top is burnt.
Think about your teacher’s closing words, how he said that we all carry wounds; that wounds have the power to take us out of the present and back to the place from which they came. Or, he said, we can choose to let that wound connect us to the moment.
Write, read and then reread; copy and paste your words into an email. Decide you’ll wait till morning to press publish and then do it anyway.
Read more in this series:
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Assistant Editor: Jamie Khoo/Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Elephant archives