What follows is an amalgam of experiences, stories of breaking up, of a relationship ending, of losing love and the ground of meaning it provided. It is not a macroscopic, factual account of a specific event, or series of events or any particular couple, although it very well could be and I just don’t know it.
Real and Not Real: True and not true
Two Hours After You Left
Months. Years. My whole life.
Lovers. Partners. You and me and me and you and you for me and me for you and there was a we, we were us and now we aren’t anything anymore.
I do not know how to let you go from inside of me, extract you from my DNA, my core, my being, my consciousness, my dreams. I don’t know how to block the receptors in my brain that are waiting, waiting, waiting and calling out, screaming out for you.
I do not know how to let you go.
Do I do let you go one molecule at a time? Mindfully release, quietly surrender each molecule that holds our essence, our moments? Do that for seconds, minutes, hours, days, months until everything about us is somewhere else, not in me?
Is that how I do it?
Do I do it surgically? Do I divine where you live in my heart and soul and slice, cut, carve you out, hoping no stray cell of you remains to cross the brain-blood barrier? Is that how I do it? Will I have let you go then?
How do I get over you?
How do I get over that mountain of love we created, the treacherous passes we crossed holding hands to arrive at the place to play in the clouds? How?
Did you need to leave? Be free? Is there someone else?
Didn’t I feel in you the need to leave? You wouldn’t tell me.
Or maybe I needed to leave and didn’t tell myself.
We steered each other here. Making assumptions, not asking. Not able to hear anything except what neither of us said.
Did you want me to decide, to say it, to bring us to that point and for me to say it’s best if we end this now? I might have, maybe, when I got to thinking clearly one day. But NOT today.
Maybe not ever. I thought I was for you. I thought you were for me.
You had questions. You did not ask.
I willed them away.
I was practising, rehearsing: “Will you marry me?”
Blind. I was blind. Caught in a dance with you, my eyes closed, caught up in the twirl, your hips to mine.
Oh god, your hips, against my hips; our heat…
Come back to me.
I’ll sing you lines from songs because I can’t think and if I can’t think I can’t find words to let you know. You’ve got to know. Please know.
I shake my head to loosen useless, silly thoughts about what I should have done, could have done, would have done differently. Then I take in a deep breath, calm for a moment.
I read somewhere that the first five days are the most difficult. After that, it isn’t easier, but it isn’t as sharp. I can live through five days. I can. Aren’t I the one that’s good at not getting attached? Not paying attention to anyone who wants more of me? Leaving when she wants to get serious? I’m good at it; in fact, I’ve perfected it.
Circle of life. Lessons. Karma. I worshipped beyond love my nemesis.
When you came in the room today, my antennae froze. What was I feeling from you? A shift. Something changed. Fear and second guessing you. Me, second guessing you. Aren’t you the brilliant one? You put your facts forward first. I saw no options in you, just walls forming a maze. And in my dark confusion I walked where I thought you were leading, dazed.
Smart doesn’t mean a thing. Neither does brilliant. We’ve just got a bigger vocabulary to avoid saying what we mean, couching statements in easy outs.
I will be sane again in a few days. Or weeks. Or never.
It’s the next morning. There was no take-a-break, have-a-respite-through-sleep and face-a-new-day kind of rest. Night moved inexorably into day.
Clearly this is for the best.
What did I do to turn you away? Would you come back? You won’t; you can’t come back. I can’t ask you to.
I couldn’t sleep for treading air, treading water. Floating in music, drowning in thoughts I cannot think.
How heavy the body becomes when there are invisible wounds: it hurts.
It hurts like thermal radiation. Layers of skin peeling, raw; evidence of exposure. Immediate agony won’t last. Over time, those radioactive isotopes of love and caring and wanting and hurt and longing and missing will decay. Future lovers with Geiger counters will find them in places where we talked, where we laughed, where I undressed you, where you touched me, where we cried, where you marked me, where we loved, where we two fused and became one.
I am lost. Confused.
How did I not see this coming? The flags were out, the road signs posted, directional maps saying You Are Here, This Is Where She Is in Her Life, and This Is Going Nowhere. Signals sent then retracted with ever more love that took us deeper.
I felt you when you came in the room. And was lost. I couldn’t find space for me around you, a place for me within you where I’d been living, held and loved and then, then, the breathtaking speed; the conversation switched: I am still gasping for air, wondering how we got HERE from there, so immersed was I in you, stupidly, stupidly blinded, stupidly hopeful and happy, ignoring those random, worried, foreshadowing thoughts.
You chose. You asked. You requested. I acquiesced one last time.
It is the right thing, you leaving, us ending. Isn’t it?
In spite of feeling. In spite of love — us, the pairing, the coupling, the partnering, the two of us, the love we declared, shared and bared — our relationship was not practical, not pragmatic, not rational. This is the logical thing to do, close that door and walk away, reclaim all that was suspended in life when life was all about you and us.
It is the right thing. Isn’t it?
I do not know if there is a God, or gods or goddesses. And if there is, I doubt very much that any of them care overly much about my life, my imperfections and transgressions, to interfere and send any lessons my way to clear away my sins.
But I knew you. Hearing your voice that very first time, I knew you. And everything I do not believe in came crashing down around my ankles. I wanted to run away. I wanted to give you everything.
I can’t undo it all, can I? Rewind the time machine? Go back to that dance club? Unhear your voice? Unsee your smile? Unfeel the closeness of you as we danced? Unreverberate the sound of your laughter in my ears. Unsurprise myself at seeing you again? Unspeed my heart at seeing your eyes light up when I recognized you? Uninvite you for that walk through the park?
Lady M. reminds me that what’s done is done.
That fateful walk.
New to the city. I offered to show you the sights. We explored.
A park. You found a space between the trees, misty sunlight filtering through. You stood there and beckoned to me.
Be still my heart. Walk away now before it’s too late said head.
The heart knows. It fucking knows, usurping head. I am in limbo, that place not heaven, not hell not earth. A place of no place, a waiting place.
Heart wins and propels my feet forward, and soon, somehow I am standing in front of you.
You step close.
I blink. Looking into your eyes.
You step closer.
And there’s this swirling around my head, into my ears, not of heart or of head; a swirling and I am dizzy with you, taking your face between my hands, bringing my body close to yours, covering your lips with mine; the swirling taking us both in and I know, know, know I am done. By you I am done.
The heart knows. You’re dangerous; brilliantly, seditiously wonderfully dangerous in that way a woman can be so dangerous to another woman, which is in every which way.
I don’t want it. I don’t want us. I don’t want us. I want you.
I don’t. I want to tear away and never see you, never be in a place where you will be.
You hold me, your fingertips touching mine.
Even as I feel that oceanic, warm abyss open I am raging at my heart, at my head, raging to stop.
I can’t do this with you, I can’t do us with you. Why aren’t I stopping this?
You pull me, down to ground on our knees, facing each other. I slip my leg between yours, my hands on your hips, and all of a sudden, I want you and will have you, deaf to my mind raging, railing, screaming at me to stop, my heart wondering what the hell is going on. I am done. Undone.
I don’t stop. Your arms around my neck. I pull you in to me, tight.
I am done. Undone.
Then and now. I am done.
Behind my back my heart bequeathed itself to you.
I cannot do this with you. I will not do this you.
We meet and talk.
Months of edgy/ness. Let it be nothing more than a passing thing for the time you are here.
It isn’t that. I know it isn’t that.
Two months later, we agree to be together: just us, exclusive. We commit.
The next day you are stone. I cannot reach you. Not by word. Not by touch.
I am calm. Confused. Breathing deeply. Did I say confused?
You are dangerous, brilliantly, seditiously, wonderfully dangerous in the way a woman can be to another woman and that is every which way.
I stay open. We talk.
You come back to me.
I am yours and I am done. Undone. I should go now before it’s too late.
It’s too late now.
I cannot undo any of it.
Bring on the wonder…
I luxuriate in your love. Blossom.
Why is sleep no respite?
It rained in my half of the city and not the other: the gods are expressing their sympathies and weep with me.
You’re everywhere. You’re not here.
I heard you. Felt you. I don’t remember the sound of your voice.
It is for the best. It is. It has to be. It will be. It is. Stop crying.
If I put one foot in front of the other and do that a few times I will be standing in a different spot. Further away from you.
That can only be a good thing.
There are two women at the counter beside me: they could be us. I look closer. We won’t be them.
What was I thinking. Oh right. I wasn’t thinking.
And so here is what not thinking gets me: Yet Another Life Experience.
You weren’t even part of a pattern, part of any deep driven psychological need.
I loved you. Full on, flat-out loved you.
I was terrified of all of it, of us, of you, of me with you.
Still didn’t stop me.
You wanted out. You needed out. Other priorities. No time for a relationship. You needed to take time back; our hours and days and weeks cutting into time you needed for your big life, that credentialed, important life where people count on you, need you, learn from you and are changed by you. Love is not part of the picture, part of the plan. Not this love. Not this place.
Are you thinking of me?
There are…torrents of words and yet what I wish is for silence, for the pad of my forefinger to touch the pad of your forefinger and to feel you.
I might should myself to madness. Shoulda let you go that first time. Or the second time.
I knew; it was painted on the ceilings when we made love; scratched on the walls, flickering in the lights. I knew and closed my eyes. What’s a little pain in a lifetime of experience? I’m a big girl.
No. I’m not. I’m wallowing. I’m wounded and retreating into childhood hurts.
I hate it. I hate feeling you still. I hate wanting to go after you.
Will anything something somebody stop this roar in my head?
Didn’t you text me the day before you left saying, “If you were here, right now, I would put my arms around you, hug you close, and show you how much I loved you.”
I should have noted the past tense of it. But I loved everything about you: everything. How we would talk for hours about anything, all things. how we would collapse with laughter over thinking the same thought at the same time in different parts of the city. I loved everything about you.
I loved how you loved me.
Didn’t I read in that same message, “Darling, if you were here, I would take your right nipple between my teeth, just enough to catch it, and pull lightly.”
And I…wanting you that much, lost any ability to see you clearly. To see me.
I loved it when you called me darling.
Didn’t you whisper in my ear that night as we made love at that moment, that edge, before we tumbled together, when I called growled your name, didn’t you tell me, “You are mine, my darling,” the night before we ended. Didn’t you?
Dramatic Arts. Say the words and conjure reality.
I was completely complicit in the shattering of my own heart.
Did I tell you I don’t commit to anyone before two years?
Did I tell you that for those months you filled me? What on earth was I thinking?
No-one completes the other: it’s unhealthy. Individuals complete, coming together, creating something bigger, more — the sum greater than the parts.
I told my friends about you, about us. They worried. I could see it, their wondering about me and about you and about us, and how this came to be, me being so different from me that they know, although all of me with you is a me that’s real, that no-one else knows.
They opened their arms to you. Held their questions. Wondered.
Did I tell you I was practicing four words: “Will you marry me?”
I was nervous. In truth, I did not know your answer.
To my friends: “We agreed that it’s best to end our relationship,” I said.
“Are you okay?” they asked.
“Yes. No. I don’t know. I will be, ” I said quietly as my internal structure collapsing in a catastrophic moment, folding down over and on itself. Later, walking through the debris of me, immune to my own toxicity I go back to my old ways, to a place where women are beautiful and if not beautiful, smart, and if not smart, fascinating. It’s an exclusive, private place, and I should know; it and the building complex are mine. I am the beautiful, quiet, elusive woman whom no-one knows much about. My presence here, walking through like I own the place, gets noticed.
She’s dark-haired. Slim. Dark eyes. Long hair, loose curls and beautiful hands. She smiles. A killer smile.
“Hello,” she says.
I look at her, feeling her emptiness and secrets and beating heart.
“Hello,” I say. I know my voice, what it does; it has caught her.
And later, when she arches under me I know without thinking, she won’t do.
She’s not you.
“I will be okay,” I say again, not knowing if that’s true but hopeful for it.
You texted me, saying you wanted to talk. We set a time.
You didn’t show. I reorganized my entire day to be there. I waited longer than a reasonable person would and walked home wondering how many times a heart can break. I cried myself to sleep for being foolish, for being hopeful, for wanting you still.
Did you love me when you whispered the words as we shopped at the market, when I touched your skin, feeling your desire, tasting your love, holding you to me?
Did you love me, when you raised my hands above my head and leaned your body against mine and whispered, “you are my love, forever.”
I wanted to believe.
This day I am bereft, reduced by the agonies in my body from being violently weaned from you, feeling you, loving you, of sharing love with you, a forced closing of my barricades to keep me from feeling you in the world.
You’re gone. It is for the best.
Did I tell you my first love was killed? And how I stepped into a closet lost forever three days of my life? No memory of them at all.
Where is that magic closet that I can walk into and be wiped clean of you? Where is that portal to forgetfulness?
I remember everything about you. About us.
I was hoping you’d change your mind by now. Or that I would find it possible to knock on your door and talk with you, find out what went wrong. Ask you to stay.
There’s no way I would ask you to stay. Brilliance only visits, it doesn’t set up house.
I conjure my cool self back, that was sitting in the shadows, waiting for its room. Its fit is looser than I remember. I’ll adjust.
Is there a future or just an eternal now?
There is no god. no goddess. If there was, I’d have the internal reserves to stop this, manage this. I don’t.
I’m gone. You’re gone.
We’re gone. Done.
I never asked that you be anyone but you. I did not need you to do anything but be who you are.
When did I go from not wanting us to needing you?
It was never more than it was. Your time here was limited. I knew that as much as I knew how deeply you became woven into the fabric of me and my life. Love cannot always find a way when love is not on the agenda.
You’re leaving you said. Sooner than you had anticipated.
Heart went boom. Tummy tightened. Ears on alert.
You’re leaving to do something important far away from here, something you’ve worked for your entire career.
You don’t know what it means for us you said.
I do. I know what’s important to you: a legacy of that, not this.
“Congratulations. I know it’s what you’ve always wanted,” I say. Emotions retracting, shields covering heart, plugging tear ducts. Head takes over managing duties from now on.
Our eyes meet.
A fog that muffles sounds, corrals emotion, descended in the space between us. You are so close I can’t see you, you are so far away I can’t feel you.
A refrain racing in my head: I once had a girl or should I say, she once had me.
“Yes,” you said. “It is.”
Your eyes search me, looking for me.
I nod, feeling a scream lodge in my gut.
“When?” I ask, barely breathing, blinking slowly, focusing on the noise in my head. That scream.
“Next month,” you say.
You reach for me, saying “What do you want to do?”
I step back. I can’t see the horizon.
“Do?” I ask, not understanding the question.
You stand there, not understanding my step away from you.
Neither of us understand and so we retreat to what we know.
I blink slowly, breathing in a quiet kind of Ujjayi breath to open my throat, hold me in place.
“What do you want to do,” I ask.
“I can’t ask you to come with me,” you say.
“No, of course not,” I say, agreeing with you.
You wouldn’t. I can’t say anything. So I don’t. Why is that scream getting louder in my head?
“And I cannot stay here. You know that,” you say, adding to the argument.
I look at you. Did I ever know you? Will you tell me what you want, just once?
I say nothing.
You say nothing.
Pounding silence except for the low wail making its way through my body into my brain. I’m not listening.
Instead I say, “then the way forward is fairly clear.”
You look at me, waiting for…what? What are you waiting for me to say?
“Do you want me to let you go?” I ask. “If you do, just ask me. Tell me what you want.”
Everything about us squeezed into this, terse, tense, moment: we are lost to each other, we have lost any ability to communicate, feel each other, understand each other.
You’re gone. You’re going.
I’m here but not present. Is this shock setting in?
I turn around, needing water. Walk to the kitchen. Our kitchen.
I don’t need water: I’m drowning. I can tell because there’s water pouring down my face.
You follow me.
Unspoken words follow me. I can’t get away from them.
You watch me drink. You watch me drown.
“Let me go,” you say.
I blink. Drowned.
I set my glass down. I will not let you see me disintegrate.
“I’m letting you go,” I say in a voice mine and not mine.
You nod. Did I see tears?
You stand there.
“Hug me?” you ask and I do, not feeling you against me. And then I step back and let you go.
You gather some things and go to that place the company rents for you, the apartment you’ve stayed at for two nights since we met.
Lady M. whispers, “What’s done cannot be undone.”
When the door closes behind you, I fall into the crack in the floor and disappear into thin air.
I’m trying to erase the feel of you from me, from my life; pack it into a small time capsule marked 16 months of us and bury it somewhere that I won’t remember.
Trying to be philosophical about the experience of you and of us. It didn’t work, we didn’t work. Chalk it up to research.
You were different for me. Different didn’t work.
Same will not work now. I am left with all of me, and all of me is lost.
Get found. Get found now.
You were right about us. We were impractical. Improbable. Impossible. For all my brooding about us, I was hopeful. We could have found a way. There is always a way when a way is wanted.
I’ve recalibrated. Adjusted. Balanced, aloof and elusive reinstated, at least as seen from the outside.
If I whisper, say, call, scream your name, will you hear me?
What was I thinking? How did I think so wrong?
Right: I wasn’t thinking.
I can’t get snippets of a Susie Suh song out of my head:
“What do I say
On this january day
When all my thoughts have gone astray
But I’m thinking ’bout you
Oh, I’m missing you
Or maybe I’m just missing who I was
When I was with you….
You’re gone. You’ll move on. Another city. Another woman. Tis your way.
But I’m not letting all of you go from the parts of me that hold you.
I don’t care if I ever do.
I’ll never stop loving you.