I suppose from the outside she seemed beautiful, but I knew what she was feeling every second of every day because I lived inside of her, nestled in between logic and choice. I was always there waiting. Some time during her senior year of college after heartbreak and setback, she finally invited me in. It was a natural progression of a newfound kinship, and it was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. The situation was so convenient and easy for us I needed a place to stay and she needed someone to cling to. I was a searcher and she was perpetually searching.
In the beginning, she would stay up with me, deep in conversation, through the night until morning was gently nudging our bedroom window. She would be hanging onto past moments she lived through, recounting how she felt, and that before the break, she really did feel all those things she talked about. I believed her. Eventually, our hearts would grow heavy with nostalgic and longing. Our desire to surrender to sleep was overcome by a painful stinging, an origin of which I could never place.
She would talk to me about him, her friends and family, and work. She said things were sweet at first and then abruptly dissipated in betrayal, change, and loss. After awhile, I felt I should follow her around and keep her company while she went to work and school and photography class.
She told me that she used to feel like she knew everything. She’d talk about her insatiable hunger for learning, discussing books she’d read, music and podcasts she’d listened to, and about the secret stories she wrote in her notebook that no one would ever read but her.
In those days, we became close friends. We would learn each other’s schedules, quirks, strengths and weaknesses. I grew so close to her that I knew how to “push her buttons” so-to-speak. I knew how to make her tick, and my desire to gauge a reaction became an addiction of sorts, like my own version of entertainment at her expense. I mean, she was a living plethora of stories and experiences that I yearned to saturate with my essence. I wanted to become a part in her narrative, a life so endlessly interesting in its mundane beauty of human recollection and passions compared to my own relative emptiness. She spoke so much of others, her friends, co-workers, and family, each one had their own special moment with and significance to her. I wanted to be enough to feel included, enough to be the only one she spoke of, dreamt about, felt, tasted, and listened to.
After all that time together, my opinion of her was shaped by a sudden clarity or maybe warped a little by jealousy. She wasn’t really anything or anyone at all. She was a fake, a creative liar, and a goal-less dreamer, even lesser than that of a fool. She wasn’t even what you’d call a “joke.”
One day she asked for the truth and out of loyalty for the amount of time and energy put into our relationship, I gave it to her. From my standpoint, the whole thing seemed like a strange dream, and she needed to wake up and move out. It was my space just as much as hers now, if not more so.
After she left, they always asked about he, “when is she coming back?” or “how long has she been away?” or, my personal favorite, “what real reason did she have for leaving anyhow?” as if reason had anything to do with it at all. They’d act like her unexplained departure was a social display of rudeness.
Now and again, she would return suddenly, uninvited, and in a hurried stupor of excitement and forced reconnection thoughts shared about dreams and possibility. Of course, I’d remind her of her shortcomings that remain unfixed. She would just give me that “look,” a look naked with fear, doubt, and unclaimed ambition and drive as if to extract some kind of answer from me. Which, of course, there never is one.