I was working on my laptop the other day, listening to iTunes on shuffle, when a song by Katy Perry came on. “Comparisons are easily done…” she began, and I found myself transfixed, listening to the words.
“’Cause when I’m with him, I am thinking of you,” Katy practically shouts, wondering what her ex-lover would do if he were spending the night instead of her current beau.
Moving on is hard, and most people, in the aftermath of a breakup, are convinced it will never happen. “I’ll always love him,” “she’ll always be the one,” they lament. “I’ll be alone forever.” That’s also what the majority of the songs are about, too – wanting the other person back so damn badly because they feel they can’t live without their ex.
I’ve always loved music – I’m a musician myself – and the fact that it is a universal language, that people can relate to and memorize a song in words they don’t fully understand, has always been incredible to me. Everybody knows what it’s like to lose a lover; even if they don’t, music can pull on your heartstrings in ways you’ve yet to experience. Music’s ability to make you feel is part of what makes music itself almost magical.
So that’s why my current predicament, and the fact that one of the few songs in my iTunes that touched upon my predicament just so happened to play… it probably wasn’t the universe talking to me directly through my laptop, but it was pretty coincidental.
It would have been easier if you and I had ended on a horrible note. If we had screamed and insulted each other at the top of our lungs, and I had stalked out saying I was done and blocked your number the moment I got home.
But no. You and I ended quietly – when you showed up at my door one night, I answered in tears, asking if we could stop hurting each other. We talked for a little bit, you left, and it rained in my room for two days straight. I remember calling my mother after, sobbing that I’d made a mistake, that I’d lost the best thing about me.
You and I stayed on good terms, talking occasionally, and I convinced myself that this was good, that I was happier without you, that I could move on, now.
And so I did just that. I ended up talking more with a previous acquaintance, and, after discovering we were practically the same person, I felt a similar spark inside of me. This is moving on. This is good. I think I could spend forever with this guy.
And things are good. I take the train to visit him in a town two hours north during the week, and he comes down to work and visits me on the weekends. We share a love of English and music, writing and singing, introversion and performing onstage. Our character traits align perfectly, and I don’t think anybody can understand me as deeply as he does. And I’m content.
Well, most of the time.
There’s something missing, though. I can ignore it well enough, pretend I don’t feel a void somewhere in my ribcage; can drown it out with sex and five-hour conversations and talks of a new future, a new future with him, somebody else (somebodywhoisntyouisntyouisntyou) when it tries to speak up; can convince myself it’s butterflies and not an ache when he talks in a voice that has no rasp to it.
But when it’s late at night and he’s fallen asleep while writing in the living room, I’m forced to confront my feelings: that I saw a future with you without even trying – so why am I desperately needing to picture one with somebody else?
It’s a shitty realization, and everybody tells me to ignore it, tells me that you weren’t good for me and that he fits like he’s my other half. But even as I feel his ribcage on top of my own, our bodies are out of sync. They don’t line up perfectly. The cogs don’t fit the way they did with you, and it makes me feel a little emptier each time I notice it.
When we broke up, I told you it felt like a hole was in my chest. “We both know I don’t fit there,” was your response, your tone laced with regret. But what if you were wrong? What if we were wrong, what if you did fit there better than anyone else ever will, and we were too afraid of settling to consider that a possibility?
It’s easy to say that you meant a lot to me, so of course I’ll always have love for you in a tiny corner of my heart. That eventually the constant comparing will stop, and I’ll be able to see the bad parts for what they were instead of rough patches that would have smoothed over eventually.
After all, that’s exactly what you’re supposed to tell someone who’s still reeling from a breakup or questioning whether their new significant other is actually as good for them as – if not better than – the previous one. You ease their fears and remind them that they deserve to be loved, and that if they want to move on, they’ll have to realize that there are people out there who will love them more than they’ve previously experienced.
Unlike you, they’re in the trenches and can’t see that they were wildly unhappy before, and that this doubt is nothing compared to the pain they felt each time their phone calls went unanswered.
But how I feel cannot be written off with a cliché. Because how I feel is all over the place. It’s not one feeling that radiates throughout my body every now and then – the best I can do is describe it as standing in the middle of a wildfire at one moment and then drowning in the undertow immediately after. It’s something that runs through my veins and shocks my system in between flashes of nostalgia and tears. It’s wondering when I let myself get this weak.
“No more mistakes, ‘cause in your eyes I’d like to stay.” Katy ends the song on a gentle note, letting her ex-lover know that should he ever come back, he’d be welcome.
I’d like to think I wouldn’t be so forgiving, that if you came back, I wouldn’t leave him for you. But the reality is that if you were to come back and open your arms to me, I’d run into them without a moment’s hesitation and hold you until I’d made up for all the time I was without you.
When I get this ahead of myself, I must remind myself of the unfortunate truth: you’re not coming back any time soon. And it’s probably for the best. If we dove into things so quickly after we ended them, I think we would have the same outcome. We haven’t given ourselves time to grow and become people who don’t fight every time they’re together. Even if we fit together almost perfectly, I have to remember that there are is a plethora of reasons why we broke up.
Maybe being with him right now is how I’ll grow into a person you could learn to love without reservations. Maybe I’ll fall in love with him and realize that you and I could never become the people we’d need to be to have a less ill-fated romance. Maybe we’ll stop talking and all chances will be ruined, and I’ll be left to focus on making my relationship with him the best it can be.
But for now, I’ll hover over your name in my phone and avoid texting you these thoughts, opting to call him instead.
For now, when I’m with him, I am always thinking of you, my love.
And I hope you are occasionally thinking of me, too.