I found his old sock on the floor. I was lucky it was just one sock. Lucky it wasn’t a drawer full of clothing, or a box of personal knick-knacks. Cleaning my room after he left me, I was lucky I didn’t come across many things that were his.
He used to spend nine months of the year 2,500 miles away from me. It wasn’t always that way. We had some good years together in the same town. But for the past few years, long distance was the norm. And after some painful months of moping and feeling lonely, we built our own lives and our own respective homes, on two different sides of the country. While not the ideal way to live, we made it work. Our relationship lasted because of many things, including love, trust, and friendship. We allowed each other opportunities to grow and be independent.
Coming home and no longer his girlfriend, I arrived at the same apartment, same furniture, same lights. I looked around. I removed a couple photos from the wall and hid a loving postcard that was hanging near my bed. That was it. My bed didn’t feel empty or cold; it was the same size and temperature as it always was. My commute to work was ordinary; some songs on the radio stung a little, but most sounded the same. I came home in the evening to my roommates — cooking, playing games, reading, as they always were.
There was no toothbrush in the cabinet — I had thrown his away months ago when it had gotten stale. He generally took all his clothes with him when he left for school, so none were left. What books and keepsakes he left lying around, he had already sent to his mom when she moved away.
Reading in bed alongside each other, making faces in the bathroom mirror each morning, cooking meals together; those things happened — but you’d never know. No reminders remained.
There are times when I’m eating alone at home and I say to myself, “Man, I’m eating alone because I’m single.” And then I realize this isn’t a rarity. I usually eat alone when I’m home. When I’m going out for the night, I have that flash of regret that he’s not coming with me. But would he be here, even if we were still together?
The truth is, no. No matter if he were my boyfriend today or a stranger tomorrow, this bed would still be empty. This room would still be mine. My daily routine would still consist of me getting up for work, doing my best at my job, taking care of myself and finding ways to make it through each day – without him.
I threw away the old sock. Although it was here for some time, it doesn’t belong here anymore. I’m not sure it ever did.