There’s not a word of this you’ll ever hear. And all things considered, I suppose it’s really such a terrible thing. All things considered. But I’m bent in such a way that sometimes I need an outlet for these things. These thoughts. They get sharp over time, like turning over them repeatedly edges them like whetstone, until like it or not they cut their way out and the bits they pass sit bleeding.
It’s not a way I like to feel, but it happens. And I write about it. Or talk about it. And keep moving. But the core of it, I can’t quite imagine that’s too likely to change.
The thought that got this all moving was about time winding and unwinding. You weren’t my first love, that’s true enough. But you were something I’d sought for when I was younger and wish I had another chance at now that I’m older: a best friend who became something much more.
Time winding and unwinding. This year marks the passage of one year longer than we were together. 3 years in, four years out. I’ve spent almost a year from time to time thinking about the fact that time ticks forward when something occurs. Relationships, jobs, education, lives. Then ultimately it ticks backward again afterward, and all that gets left behind is a residue. The after-image of a thing that has disintegrated.
You were too young, that’s probably the first part. I wasn’t so very much older, but it was enough to hurt in the long run I think. But god did I ever love you, completely and terribly and constantly. And I did my best to rebuild you, brick by brick until there you were again, strong and whole and mine. I remember sitting beneath your stairs in a makeshift cavern of blankets and soft light, and you gave me a book of us. A book of everything that had gone into who we were together.
I remember what it felt like to hug you when I’d been away a little while. What it felt like when you scolded me amusingly when I did something stupid. The way your body moved with mine. The passionate burn of new interests and the intellect that fueled them. The way that connected us and kept us constantly moving towards each other.
Do you remember how long we’d made our plans? You graduated a year early, half to get out of our little old town, half to catch the timing to get away with me. It was a plan worth making. And while we waited for it we had so many adventures.
I’m not going to claim I wasn’t stupid. Everybody makes mistakes, and god knows I make plenty. I loved music and wanted to make it my life work. To this day I still haven’t figured out if it’s a good choice, but it was mine. And there was always room in my life and my heart for it and you. And I never betrayed you or lost sight of that.
But you could hurt. Knew the right ways to break me down. And I don’t think you ever quite realized how it made things hard on me. But it felt like things would always settle down and the parts that were good were the only ones that ultimately mattered, whatever we both would say.
But this is what kills me.
That great plan. New York City and the future stretching forward into infinity…we got there. Together. And then it collapsed completely.
I never quite knew why. Maybe it was how hard it was to find a good job in 2006 when the economy was falling apart. Maybe it was the fact that you were becoming a college student while I was graduated and in a different chunk of reality. That doesn’t matter so much.
What bothers me, what kills me, what makes me think about you and those three killer years, what makes me go back to replaceability and time unwinding and all these otherwise less than wonderful thoughts is this:
When we parted ways, we parted ways.
That first year afterwards, we saw each other…what? Twice? Three times? Once we actually sat down to talk and have a cup of tea. Just talked, and it was nice. A look at what was gone.
But that was all. I haven’t seen or spoken to you in over three years now. I’ve wanted to. I’ve missed you. I’ve missed a lot of things. The autumn is still you in my head. The songs, the colors, the cold, every bit of it the things I love the most in the passing of time.
And all things that I associate with you.
Even as I write this I feel myself stretching out. Becoming thin. Feeling farther and farther away from myself, as odd as it seems. And maybe it’s just age and fatigue and responsibility and the demands of a life that keeps moving forward.
But ultimately it is the feeling of having stopped. Having only so much self left, and gradually spreading it over more time than makes sense.
I have a girlfriend these days, a very good job, a nice place to live. I have nice things and don’t want for terribly much. I have music and I plod slowly towards the goals I care about.
But I don’t *feel* much. I am detached and listless and prone to wandering. My mind unclenches from time to time and inside it I feel the scream of this vast chasm, and it chokes my sense of well being, my happiness.
And it comes from the fact that I have had and lost what would have been one half of a perfect life, and the sad awareness that no matter what I achieve it will never amount to quite as much as I can imagine it might have.
But I wouldn’t want you to know this. Because I hear your life goes quite well, and I wouldn’t have that any other way either. Because I am separate from the disdain I know so many people often feel.
Really, when it comes down to it, it just burns a bit.
And in the end, I wish I’d known.
Why, when it was over, there was nothing left for you at all in me.
Still love you Molly. Probably will for a very, very, very long time.
Be well. And remember me from time to time.
I think I’d like that.