As Long As I Love You, I Am Not Free

You still have the power to upset me. Isn’t that fun for you to hear? It’s all you did when you were around me so why not keep up what we’re obviously so good at, right?

I don’t get it. We’re nothing to each other anymore. You’re barely in my life. I’m barely in yours. And yet for some reason, everything you do makes me upset.

It stems from disappointment. It’s like you’re a big poster for all my hopes and dreams and my vulnerability and the way I wanted us to be perfect. You’re a walking, talking sign that says, “Hey! Remember that time you were stupid?” Because I trusted you and I let you in and you didn’t live up to that. And now we’re apart and you’re just some stranger who knows all my secrets and all my family members and all my quirks and flaws and it doesn’t make sense.

You scatter. You go across the globe or cling to someone new but I existed, we existed, I was there. You don’t mean to upset me and I wish, more than anything, that I wasn’t at your mercy. Don’t you think I’d like to go on with my life? Don’t you think I want to look at pictures of you and feel like I’m looking at a piece of furniture or a leaf or something else foreign and unemotional? Of course I do. I don’t want to be upset.

I wish we could go back to before we met. You were innocuous then. Just another face in a sea of faces. We met several times and I never remembered you. Did you know that? You probably do, because you introduced yourself to me again and again. I don’t remember what it was like not to know you from Adam. I don’t remember when your face evoked nothing in me. It seems like I was a different person then — freer maybe. I saw a poster in an art museum in Spain this summer that said, “I march in the parade of liberty, but as long as I love you, I am not free.” I sent you a picture of it because it reminded me of you. At the time, I didn’t know how sinister that really was.

You used to have no power over me. You were just a person I saw around. And then you changed, almost overnight. And I loved you. If someone had told me a year ago that you would occupy a heavy space in my chest (heart?) so deep and so painful that I’d feel like I swallowed an anvil, I would not have believed them. “Them?” I would have said. “I barely think about them. I don’t even know them.”

Strangers.

That’s what we should be now. What we are now. (Let’s be honest. We were strangers when we were together too.) And all those nights I comforted you and listened to you and begged you to let me in, thinking I could help you or I could change you, that I would be “the one,” well, they’ve left me upset. Trigger-happy upset. Like I have vertigo and I can’t get upright again.

I want to forget everything you told me. I want to wash away how uncertain you made me. How scared I was of losing you. How I lost you anyway. I don’t want to know how your hands feel or what makes you smile. I don’t want to see you in photos, familiar like a dream I had once or a book I never finished. I don’t want to speak about you in snippets or think about how I behaved. Or know that I still think about it. Or know that you’re not just a lamp or a blade of grass, indistinguishable from the rest.

“As long as I love you, I am not free,” I sent to you, thinking I was being cute. And it was woeful foreshadowing.

And now, I want to be free. TC Mark

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