How To Open A Door
Go on a beach vacation for a weekend with your family. Watch your parents struggle to pretend they are not on the verge of divorce. Watch your little sister struggle to pretend she doesn’t see it. Take a walk to escape the white walls and flowered linens of the summer home. Park yourself on a salty bench next to an aging New England lighthouse. Flip through a semi-worn copy of Lolita. Lose yourself in the immensity of the Atlantic Ocean.
Hear rustling in the bushes nearby. Glance over and see nothing. Laugh at yourself a little. Hear rustling again. Stand up in shock as a tall skinny kid dressed in black runs out of the bushes toward you, waving his arms and screaming. Clutch your book to your chest and step back. Stare at the kid as he doubles over laughing. Listen as he makes an attempt to explain himself while he gasps for air. Try not to get too pissed off when you learn that he was just playing a practical joke. Try to not allow yourself to think “What the hell?” repeatedly. Try to pretend he didn’t do a good job scaring you. Ask him his name.
Spend three hours talking with him on the bench. Ask him more questions. Answer his questions. Learn that his grandmother lives fifteen minutes from you back home. Stare at him. Feel like something important is happening but wonder if your imagination is turning your life into a bad rom-com. Read him your favorite parts of Lolita. Listen to him read his favorite parts of Lolita. Stare at him. Let him draw on you with a marker. Let him write on you. Laugh when he tells you that he is not in love with you. Tell him that you are not in love with him either. Kiss him. Walk home fast and happy. Watch his words stream down your body in the form of thick black droplets when you take a shower. Feel clean. Sink in to the white sheets and white down comforter. Feel comfortable.
Spend almost every weekend sneaking out of your house and going to his grandmother’s. Meet all his friends. Fall in love with them too. Fall in love with his grandmother. Fall in love with sneaking out. Fall in love with watching him cook you pancakes at two a.m. Fall in love with your life. Go hiking. Go night swimming. Drink whiskey. Break into an abandoned building. Sleep there. Smoke weed there. Watch his post-punk band practice. Fall in love with post-punk. Dance around the living room. Play chess. Play soccer. Teach him about art. Learn about music. Write him one word notes. Cook him pancakes at two a.m. when he breaks his leg skateboarding. Refuse to be anything to him or let him be anything to you. Fall in love with nothingness. Continue to see him on the weekends after school starts up again. Continue to hide him from your family and friends in some botched attempt at giving yourself a new start. Winter. Spring. Begin a seriously awful relationship with one of his friends. Cry on his shoulder when it’s all over.
Spend the following summer practically living together. October. December. March. Slow dance with him in the living room. Agree to be something. Fall in love with somethingness. Spend lots of time lying in bed together. Feel comfortable. Stare at him. Sit in the woods and read him Leaves of Grass. Forget to say, ”I love you” and “Thank you” and “I’m sorry” and “I’ll miss you” and “Goodbye.” Pick up your cell phone and hear someone sobbing and saying your name over and over. Skip his funeral. Allow yourself to think “What the hell?” repeatedly. Spend hours imagining what his body must have looked like after the accident. Feel permanently incapable of allowing him to leave your life as spontaneously as he entered it. Write about it sometimes.
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Of all the breakups I’ve had, the saddest and hardest to get over is the one with my platonic girlfriends.
I will keep looking at them while you go through the checklist of things you need to bring. I will note how I am not on it and feel the cracks under my ribs escalate with every beating pulse.
We’ve come too far to give up who we are
So let’s raise the bar and our cups to the stars
I have never held hands that were equally my own and not, at the exact same time. It is this lack of understanding that makes me want to say thank you.