never could resist a landscape metaphor …
never could resist a landscape metaphor …
You know what else is funny? How the ache is so strong, you think it will never go away, that something set so deep couldn’t possibly fade. Then later comes along. At some point – later – you no longer feel what you used to feel. And when you think about what you came through, you can’t remember just when that ache went away. It didn’t feel gradual; it certainly didn’t get easier one specific day or time. Two months in, you were just as likely to be sobbing on a Friday night as you were when your heart was first split open. Still. At some point it wasn’t there anymore. At some unidentifiable moment, it all slid off you. You were no longer sad. It … he .. was gone. What was the formula? What was the exact equation of distance and time to take you where he wasn’t?
I need to know this. Because I’ve carried this bright, new sadness across the ocean with me. I’ve put the distance between us, once again. So how long before time meets that distance? When? How long before I stop feeling like there are strings playing under my skin, a mournful dirge that pulls me down?
Back when it ended, I listened to that music on repeat, it was my constant refrain.
Am I really back there now?
~ El, What We Have Left
Sorry? Am I really here again? Standing on a dark street, lip bit, trying not to cry? Am I really here, in heels too high for the slippery streets and the shaking?
Why’s it always raining when my heart gets broken? (there’s no denying – half a year got me half way there.)
And now you’ve gone and left me here?
Hell no! You knew. You know.
And I thought with that we might take care. I thought perhaps you cared. Enough to be a better man when it comes to invitation.
See, I know where you’re wounded too (dark spirits will pull that from a conversation). I kept my touch gentlest there. And when I turned out my palms … I understood your right to refuse them.
But it’s been a long time since someone left me so small. Off to take their better call. Leaving me an unspoken message. Alone to hear, loud and clear.
Sorry for taking so long to accept.
I thought you were a different kind. And that – you motherfucker – was a ‘big deal’ to me.
I’ll still know your birthday.
I’ll still know the date you said yes, still see the girl with her hand to her mouth and her back to the wall, surrounded by love and alcohol – these midwives who birthed her grief, and carried her, carefully, back into the world.
I’ll still know those next years by your door and its swinging. The calendar of words and reaching from either side, and the times we didn’t speak at all. How I left a trail of breadcrumbs all over the silence – and how you didn’t follow them home.
And I’ll know the times you did.
I’ll still know the last time I saw you, love. The last, last time, and I’ll count away from this day, as if it is my midnight, the end and the beginning of everything. Wondering still, in the dark of this hour, if the way you couldn’t love me – meant I couldn’t be loved at all.
~ Elliott, Into the After
So many people die protecting their heart, instead of exposing it. They never once say – Fuck it! I’m in. It wouldn’t work? Who cares! Let’s try! They never take the leap, and risk the fall. The knowing, finally, that you are on your way now. Or free to leave, once and for all. It might break their heart to find out. It should break their heart. That’s how you’re meant to use it.
That’s how the light gets in.
You cannot be tentative with love. You have to crash into it, you have to crack through it. Your heart can take it. That resilient little organ, every time it breaks, it cobbles back together somehow. It recalibrates around the ache, into something stronger.
You have to break your own heart. I hope you break your heart. Use it, while it is still drumming away, under the skin. Tell that person. Ask that person. Turn out your palms and say I’m here. I’m in. Don’t bequeath them your questions. Risk your heart – break it! – to find the answers. Maybe that person will help you put your heart back together. Maybe you’ll have to do it alone. It doesn’t matter. It recalibrates around the ache, into something stronger.
And the only way to really let go – is to know.
(So now you now. Time to let go)
Excerpt from I hope you break your heart. Tell your truths. Tell your stories. Every time.
I know you don’t watch me walk away. I know you don’t press your forehead against the double glass to keep me in your sight. There is no straining for that one last look, no time suspended in the final unblinking stare. You don’t stay with me until I am just another city glow fading in to night.
Tonight I have said I don’t want to do this anymore. I have said it in the way a liar can tell a single truth, sudden and surprising. You are asleep, or nearly asleep when I whisper it across the back of your head.
I don’t want to do this anymore. This – laying in your arms in yet another bed of tangled sheets. This staccato relationship, our little parody, where the only authentic act is how you fall asleep straight after we fuck. And I know what comes next. I can feel the separation as keenly as if you have already peeled your body from mine, already slid back in to that second skin, the crisp white shirt and pressed pants, so deftly shucked hours before. I feel you walking out the door even as your breath warms my breast and your hand remains heavy between my legs. And I decide that tonight I will be the one to go.
I have held on to you so long that my hands still clench around you. My fingertips try to press in to you one last time, to roll across your skin in a final and heroic effort to prove my identity. But you barely stir, as one finger then the next has to release its grip.
I move to the edge of the bed and I tell you I am leaving. I say other things too, they tumble from a wine-thick tongue, but in time to come I will only ever remember this. How I say I am leaving and you mumble I’ll see you soon, and how with your eyes still closed you miss the way I shake my head, no.
I know you don’t get up after I close the door behind me. I know you don’t move to the window to watch me tremble into the night. You are not looking down to see me stumble through cracks of concrete in the heels you removed so carefully over dinner, and you don’t watch as I recede to a grey as cobbled as the street below. With no neon flash of text to say goodnight, no vibrating phone to accompany me home, I know you are already sound asleep.
It is my 35th birthday and I will not cry. One wobbly foot in front of the other on this midnight street, I walk away.
Eidyia’s Note: Reposting this today because I need to remember.