“I chose, and my world was shaken – so what?
The choice may have been mistaken, the choosing was not
You have to move on …”
– Sondheim, Move On
You get up the next morning because you have to. Because the time has long since passed where you could lie in bed all day and turn your face to the wall. Because this is where you were always going to end up, and you cannot claim ignorance – even when the pain is fresh.
So you get up and you go to work, and you sit at your desk in the hope that the inertia of an every-working-day will help you push it down. You forget your password and answer ‘great’ to questions about your night, and all the while your fingernails dig in to your arm and leave their mark – but it keeps your voice steady, this other kind of pain, and when no-one takes a second look you are grateful for the sensation.
If you are a little white in the face and your shoulders are weighed down, it can be chalked up to that extra wine the night before. And though you cry silently in a bathroom stall through lunch, you wash away the tracks before the hour is out.
This is how it goes. The first next day, and the worst, because it’s all just sitting there on your skin, this ache. You will not listen to love songs – you know not to listen to love songs – and it’s a quiet day when you don’t have a soundtrack. Just the ticking of the clock, and if you could shift the hands forward you would, because it is okay to crawl in to bed when the sun goes down. No-one cares if you face the wall at night, in the hours assigned to the broken-hearted.
It’s the daylight you have to watch in the coming weeks. Those mornings where your skin is just a little flayed, your nerves jangling on the surface as you scrub at wine-cracked lips. Trying to remove the stains, hiding the evidence from the night before. Applying an extra layer of concealer before you go.
You are a fortress in defence of your sadness. You don’t want to lose it to the seven stages, not when it has been the only steady thing. But of course you are well on your way despite yourself. You skipped right over denial, and before long anger makes its presence known. It suddenly threatens to replace the hollow with a heat. It flares in your chest every time you revisit that last text – the one that says ‘if you need me …’ well fuck, when didn’t you need him? And there it is again, the little flame that won’t go out.
(You taste a little acid on your tongue each time you bite down on this new life of no reply).
Until one day you delete the message (and yes you are sure!), and it is neither heat nor hollow that results. Just a slight sensation of falling, and for the first time a little thrill betrays you. You stop counting the weeks on your fingers, you stop guarding your sorrow, and it lessens in everything but dreams by the time the seasons change.
The truth is, you are moving on. And in some small way you want to say sorry for this letting go. It was never your intention to be the faithless one. You fought so hard to hold on after-all. They say the average daydream lasts 14 seconds. Well this one lasted seven years. But you can’t keep telling the same story, not when time has its own ideas it likes to dangle, just within your reach.
You have to move on. Still, you know why Orpheus looked back. And though you know your past won’t survive the light, you still long for one last look at the dark. You have to move on. But first you look over your shoulder. To see clearly what trailed behind you all of this time.
And just for a moment – in this looking back – you catch a glimpse of two lovers as they actually were. Two glorious creatures turning in each other’s arms, sending off sparks. A vivid blaze across the night of your life.
You watch them spinning away from the world, in an endless, beautiful dance. And then you let them go.
“Look at all the things you’ve done for me
Opened up my eyes
Taught me how to see …”
Eidyia’s Note: In re-posting this piece here I see that I wrote the truth well before I realised it. That lyrical genius Sondheim really does say it best … settle for the glow, time for letting go. Move on.