These are the things I write to the man who no longer opens my texts:
Seeing the “unread” icon gives me permission to use this space as my personal journal.
You don’t mind, right?
Then I’ll say: I miss you like mad, I love you like hell, and I could happily pummel you for ignoring me, especially as I was saying goodbye. You could have at least opened my texts that said goodbye.
It’s safe; I can chastise him all day. The messaging app is a dead place. The last text he opened was me telling him I couldn’t do this anymore—and he wrote back, “I’m not playing this game.” Then he logged out.
I assumed he’d log back in, so I explained how much I was hurting and why I had to walk. He’d loved me intermittently. He’d loved me occasionally. Vaguely.
For three frustrated years, I’d banged my head against that wall until I nearly exploded my brain.
Then came the day that he blew me off even more dismissively than usual. So I made the decision to say goodbye.
But I’d wanted him to at least register my goodbye.
He never logged back in.
It’s been weeks of silence, so now I write. I write into the void.
I don’t feel better yet. I feel a little foolish. I feel like a kid talking to her bedpost in the dark, when no amount of dreaming means the conversation goes both ways.
What to say? I have carte blanche, which feels interesting. I can say anything.
I love you.
I hate you.
No, I don’t hate you. But you hurt me so many times with your disregard and your dismissiveness.
Is there a reason, do you think, or is love simply magical—it either appears for people, or it doesn’t? Should I be grateful that it grew in me? Should I hold you blameless that it didn’t grow in you?
We would have been the couple of the century. I was ready. I took you on, complicated and avoidant though you are, and I waited for you to take me on. We had so much that was right. We clicked. We jived. We meshed like we were meant to be…when you allowed it.
I’m watering the desert here, with no hope a flower will bloom. He isn’t going to answer my questions, or muse with me on the nature of love, or parse what we meant to each other. At least the water will evaporate unseen; I can stand here watering eternally, but I can’t flood a desert. You can’t flood what’s arid.
I’m glad I loved you. If I could separate out the pain, the love that’s left behind is worth every ounce of gold on this planet and another one. You were rare.
This sucks. I’m glad he’ll never open these. I am waxing maudlin and sentimental. I am also telling the truth. I don’t like that my truth is maudlin.
The Planned Parenthood nurse can’t find my IUD and it’s lost somewhere in my body. My dad’s nose bleeds for no reason, suddenly. One of my kids is in a psych ward for a week, probably because of a bad reaction to Zoloft, but who knows, and I’m petrified. I tried a new beer I wanted to share with you—it’s a blackberry hibiscus sour. Isn’t that neat? I painted a mural and couldn’t decide whether to fill in the clouds or keep them as just an outline—it’s the first time in three years I didn’t snap a photo and text it to you for your input. Learning to live without you is like learning to walk without legs.
We used to tell each other everything; but now if I continue texting like this, even muted, I’m not moving on. This isn’t helping.
Oh, look—a cartoon! It’s a cartoon of a mother kangaroo with a small baby kangaroo in her pouch, peeking down into a farmer’s denim jeans and declaring, aghast, “I think your child is dead.” I laugh in spite of myself.
I send it to him.
I can hear your laugh in my head. I loved your laugh.
He’d have found the kangaroo funny. I send it to at least five of my other friends. I show it to my parents. I show it to one of my kids, the one who appreciates bathroom humor the most. I find stand-ins—placeholders, everywhere—for the people who are not him.
It doesn’t help. The hole he left in my life grows.
I count the moments “since.” Since I last saw you, since we last spoke. Since I saw your smile. Since the steadiness of your gaze told me you were happy I was there.
But I used to count the moments “until.” Until you’d text me. Until I could see you. Until you’d show up, which was never a guarantee. Until you’d let go when I hugged you. Until you’d love me back and I could stop waiting.
Until I could stop waiting. Until I could stop waiting. Until I could stop waiting.
If you ask me which is sadder, between since and until, at any other time in my life I’d answer, “Since. Of course, since.” Since means loss. When you’re counting since, something is gone. Something is in the past.
Now I will answer, “Until.” Until is desperately sadder. Until means something hasn’t happened—not yet, maybe not ever. Until conveys limbo, a waiting period when the end is unseen and unknown. Until is the place where I cried so hard into my hands that my fingernails left marks on my cheeks because it was so hard to wait.
Until isn’t a given. It’s purgatory. It’s for lost souls. For three years, as hard as I tried to make the man I loved love me back, I was a lost soul.
Now there is no until, so there’s nothing that can hurt me, except the memories of since. I’m not counting the moments until anything.
The only until is “until I get better.”
I’m sorry. I won’t keep writing. You’ll open this one day, maybe. I don’t know how to leave you.
Please forgive the echo, here, of everything we used to share. Please forgive that I hung on. That was always my flaw, wasn’t it? I hung on.
I’d have hung onto you forever. I’d have loved you for the rest of my life.
I will love him for the rest of my life. But I might delete this messaging app.