I am not in love with you anymore.
And I don’t mean that in a “Now You’re Just Somebody That I Used To Know” sort of way, there is no plinky background accompaniment to my lovelessness. I don’t not-love you in a way that deserves a song. I just don’t. It is the most anti-climatic thing in the world, falling out of love. And maybe it was a gradual thing, maybe this has been a long time coming, but if it is I never realized it. It seems like it happened so suddenly. You were yelling and yelling, yelling over my increasingly hesitant “stop, please stop” and then I couldn’t hear you anymore because I was preoccupied with this funny feeling I got in the pit of my stomach, sort of like mild indigestion. I tried to remember what I’d had for lunch. And that was when I knew that I was not in love with you anymore.
It is staggering, the immensity of love’s power. It will floor you better than any drug. Heartbreak will drive an able-bodied man to retreating into a place where he is barely a remnant of a human being. My best friend has a gorgeous, hand-drawn portrait of this beautiful woman hanging in her bedroom. When I was little, I liked to sit and look at it. “That’s my great-aunt,” Liz told me. “She’s been dead for a long time.” It wasn’t until we were older that she elaborated. Her great-aunt had been a schoolteacher in Montana in one of those one-room schoolhouses and lived in a prairie, just like in the storybooks. When the man she loved married a different woman, she put on her Sunday best and swallowed a sewing needle. Then, she lay down in a field of tall grass and let it rip her insides apart. “So yeah, she’s been dead for a long time.”
That’s what we’ve made love out to be like, that’s what we have glorified (for lack of a better word) it as. And somehow, it makes me feel like I’m doing it wrong, to just not be in love with you anymore. I keep looking for that type of hurt that overwhelms you and wrings from you an elegant breed of writing that can only be born of heartbreak. The only thing I am finding, though, is still just mild indigestion.
You’re still yelling, something about how I’ll be sorry to have lost you. When I ask you to stop, you talk louder, you talk over me, because you think you know what I’m going to say. But no, please, you don’t understand: I just want to tell you that you can stop yelling so loudly because I am not in love with you anymore and I am not even really listening, so all this effort you’re making is wasted on me. I’m just looking out for you, man. It’s almost tangible, how hard you’re trying to hurt me, and while I really am flattered by all this attention, I’m afraid your attempts are in vain. Somewhere between when you told me that I’ll be easy to forget and when you attacked the scars on my body, the ones that you had lovingly coaxed me to reveal to you in the soft morning light, is when you severed the last few translucent threads from which I hung onto you. As soon as I was free, I was hurtling away from you at alarming speed. But you won’t stop yelling, so I just hang up the phone.
At the end of August, I took a trip into the desert with some of my very dearest friends and we laid blankets down upon a rock at the top of a hill, inching ourselves closer to the stars. We watched the Perseid Meteors cascade across blackness, the burning culmination of our summer love, our desperate summer need for running fast and laughing loudly and singing songs in patios lit by tiny, blinking Christmas lights. The burning culmination of our summer selves, falling out of the sky. And in that whisper of time and space, the hushed weight of that night which we all recognized as yet another beginning of yet another end, a thought occurred to me:
We’re like those meteors, quicksilver slices that disintegrate into nothingness. Our moment has passed and, before we ever hit something solid, we will run out of things to burn and disappear with a very quiet poof back into that goddamn infinite abyss from which we came. This is okay. And even though there was nothing poetic, nothing literary, about the quiet way in which I fell out of love with you, that is okay as well. It’s sad that you spent the end trying so hard to tear what we had made apart. It’s like we’ve built something beautiful and, now that it’s time to walk away from it, you can’t leave it without first destroying as much of it as you can. Why do we have to do that? Let’s just leave it as it is; let’s be proud to leave something beautiful behind.
One of the last good nights we had together, you looked at me with an earnestness that came into sharp juxtaposition with the nonchalance you usually wear like an exoskeleton. You said, “the summer might be ending but in the wintertime we will do all the things we have not done yet.” But honey, I will never love you like I do now. You will never love me like you do now. We will never be as happy in each other’s company as we are, right now. There is no later, there is no next time; we will forget each other before we meet again. I took a mental snapshot of you, so beautiful, right there, as the first chill of autumn tentatively touched the vulnerability from your face.