There’s a point when my hairdryer is on the verge of burning my back. When I get out of the shower, I take my hair out of the towel and use the blow dryer to warm up the parts of my body that my hands cannot reach. When it hits my back there’s a sensation like warm water, then it slowly develops into a tickle/burn. There’s about a half second between the tickle that feels amazing, and the burn which I always yelp at.
Therein laid our relationship.
I suppose also, that this could apply to almost anything: The hour in the sun that starts as a fresh glow and ends as a painful scorching of the flesh; a sunburn that takes time to develop into a carcinogenic, tan. Things, take time.
When did I stop writing love letters? Even in the days of our first relationship, I remember very sweet emails back and forth. Praise. It wasn’t that I didn’t feel the things my body begged to write about: I just felt more that the moment I gave in- almost like a binge on something fatty or overindulgent- I would immediately be blindsided by something else. It never tasted good- anymore. I wanted to tell you- but I couldn’t find a way to without not being disappointed when the fight started. The love letters I wanted to write were overshadowed by the lies I kept telling myself to not give up on this: Because I couldn’t bear giving up on anything anymore. There was so much change and so much loss- there you were. Silly, silly, girl.
All I can think of is your cheekbones- and the way your face curves perfectly to your dimpled chin. The soft, determined eyes and almost pouty grin- (which I saw in moments of our greatness.) All I can think of- is your face.
Your phone charger is still plugged in next to the wall on my bed. Call it pure laziness- but I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of pulling everything out from behind to get to it. You can also attribute laziness to the fact that the only unwashed pillowcase is the one you slept on- the scent of a man who I’ll probably never forget- even in moments such of these- quiet desperation. The smell? Is a conflicting mix of sweat and something that smells like ‘man rain.’ Like receiving a nostril-full of a passerby who’s coat is soaked and his aftershave lingers before exiting in the droplets falling to the ground.
I never really wanted to be your friend. I knew we wouldn’t be able to do it. I knew I’d give in- or give up, or give away all the things I took back after each fight, break-up or distance from each other.
The hardest break-ups are from the couples who developed their own language with actions or speech or intuitions that felt so much like home, they still grab the leg of the person next to them when watching something gut-wrenching or hilarious and they look to the side to share a reaction. It’s not just a death of a relationship, friendship- it’s the death of all that was adopted or believed in. It’s a death of sharing. Someone else will take the calls that were reserved for the individual and someone else will give the advice that only the leg-grabbing-partner dispensed. It’s always someone else, and we’re always searching.
Break-up mantras and songs replace daydreams of grandeur and the silly ideas of lasting intentions that filled the mind. Everything takes on a new meaning. The differences between what was and was wanted are blurred; consequently memories of the good are stamped far deeper than the bad and the confusion between asking, “Did I do the right thing?” to “Screw Him,” leave everything simultaneously, shady.
And I’m proud: the tiny parts of me that rejoice in standing up for what I wanted, and not accepting less than I deserved. These parts are becoming larger, I’m noticing the difference between the real and the fake and the just plain delusional.
A year and a half wasted? Wouldn’t that be entirely too easy to state- if I measured my life by successes and failures, that is. I could only label it a waste if I didn’t come so far in the book of who I wanted to be. Without this: I would have missed entire chapters.
You taught me that I was sexy: Not in a ‘you’re grown up so walk with a strut or wear something tight and black,” but that even with a 104 temperature in the emergency room I knew, I was someone damn important. You built me up to tear me down- but we all do that.
With you, I just learned to give up the fairytale. I saw the truly important and negotiated with my programming to modify self-inflated fields of concern. I learned to walk away, over and over. Little fights, big fights, the epic ones that kept us both up for days created a ridiculous barrier to anything we might have accomplished. We accomplished living- in a way that we could sit in a room for hours at end and not utter a single word. We finished each others sentences and brought up each other’s thoughts. You told me to get out of your brain, and I was happily in tuned to the inner workings that you kept so hidden.
You don’t think I listened: But I truly did. Every time you told me I was wrong for whatever reason you had- I saw the pain you held underneath it all. I saw your outbursts as more than you being angry, and I knew that behind your eyes wasn’t a simple, complex sentence you were speaking- it was a minefield that you were trying so hard within yourself to navigate. One misstep, and suddenly you didn’t even understand yourself, what was going on. I saw your pain and I shared it because I feel pain and there is nothing like knowing that you are self-destructing with no one else to set on fire. I wanted to burn.
Why does this feel so different? The feeling of relief and lingering resentment is a unique combination. It started, with that stupid boat- (to which I am still completely indifferent on.) We sunk it- good, and deep and like a missing child from the 1960′s- Gone. Maybe that’s it: there’s no floating debris, or things we didn’t say. Only a love letter I never wrote because I already knew the outcome.