Thank you for communicating with me, even when it pinched your throat so awkwardly and acutely you had to choke out the words.
Thank you for playing the devil’s advocate at the wrong times; usually when I had some problem you didn’t know how to respond to, like dealing with totally blissed-out trust-fund-baby New York City yogis.
Thank you for supporting me each of the seven (plus) times I pivoted my life’s goal and drew up a brand new golden plan. And for always telling me I’m the strongest woman you know and you know I’ll be okay.
I don’t feel so strong right now.
Sleeping in our bed the past few nights has surpassed Chinese water torture on my list of most terrible forms of torture. Your smell is everywhere. I’ve changed the sheets three times and still nothing smells like me in the whole damn apartment. How did you do that?
I wore out your She and Him record. Side A only. Sorry about the looks you’ll get from the neighbors when you come back.
I did the laundry and put your clothes away. I left your balled-up socks in the dirty bin though, because I’m a little bitter.
Why won’t you just move west with me?
Crying for 24 hours straight causes the type of out-of-body experience sentimental hearts have nightmares about. A woman could go blind with all that salt in her eyes.
My egg sandwiches are finally starting to get better. It takes an hour to eat them because I detest each over-salted, extra-crispy bite for not being one of your five-star creations. It’s the only meal I’ve made for days because I remember you telling me when you were little and didn’t feel good your mom always made you an egg sandwich. I’d like to tell you it’s not very good medicine, but I’d be lying. I’ve never lied to you.
My to-do lists don’t have your name on them anymore, but they are suddenly two pages longer and are sprinkled with fun activities like, “organize photo albums” and “alphabetize books.”
I’m finally giving away the rabbits. Their appeal has suffered since you haven’t been here to complain about them.
I’ve turned inward.
The contents of my craft box have been strewn across our apartment since you left. Tie-dye twine, conte crayons, and a giant hand-sewn bag of assorted feather and beads now adorns your bureau. I’m making dreamcatchers, I think. I’ve even started writing again. Funny how there’s more than one way to fill the hole in your heart with a pencil.
I’ve been doing a hell of a lot of sad yoga. It’s when you hold back the wall of tears just behind your eyelids the whole time and when you finally go into the last hip-opening pose of the practice, you lay your head in your shirt at the front of the mat (that you left there for this purpose) and lose it. It’s when you’re probably the only one in the room doing sad-yoga and get annoyed and/or sympathetic looks from everyone else.
It’s when there’s you… and everyone else.
I organized the DVDs. Your annoying habit of utter refusal to put the discs back in the correct case suddenly seemed so cute, as if I were flipping through pictures of kittens. I kept moaning things like, “I remember when he watched Barton Fink…” And toward the end of organizing, things like, “Is it so fucking difficult to be a real adult and have the fucking responsibility to put the damn DVDs back in the correct fucking case.”
I had a whole bar of dark chocolate for breakfast-dessert this morning. I was sneaking pieces out of the corner of my eye so I wouldn’t see myself. Giving myself shit for my chocolate obsession isn’t the same without your voice attached to the words.
I don’t know what I’m doing in this city anymore.
If I’m not building something with you, I’m not building anything.
I haven’t touched your side of the bed. Neither has Toby. He still sleeps at my feet like he thinks you’re still there, or coming back, or hopes you are. I hope you are.
I know that most of me knows we could have worked it out. Love heals all, right? Love will keep us alive? All we need is love? But we have that. We have so much of it. Why can’t it be all that matters? Why does it matter so much that our paths aren’t aligning and we want different things?
(Yeah, I just referenced the Eagles. Sorry.)
I love you like I have never loved anyone. I have given you more than I knew I had. I would have made you promises, and kept them forever, for as long as our forever was.
But I guess I did. I guess our forever is over. I guess the amazing-life-partner and hot-and-cool-hippie-mom that I’m supposed to be, I will still be—just not with you.
I want you to know that I still want no one else.
I don’t know how long that nausea surrounding intimacy with anyone but you will take to dissipate from my insides, but I think one day it will. And in the meantime I’ll work on transforming sad-yoga to some other form. I’ll make line drawings of moons and feathers. I’ll walk the dog. Cry into his fur. Eat chocolate. I’ll watch the entire series of Friends, root for Ross and Rachel. I’ll call my friends; confess I don’t think I’m going to make it. They’ll tell me it’s time that heals all things, but love is there too. It’s breath that will keep me alive.
And it’s true that all we need is love. But love comes in all forms; including a pure, complete, unadulterated love that just didn’t work out in this life.
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Assistant editor: Jennifer Moore /Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: elephant archives