i. I never would have left. I probably would’ve ended up doing more than making out with him in Anna and Ali’s apartment. I would have gone to a safe school and been a big fish in the same small pond. I would have had some stellar roles. A lot of people would have brought me carnations and I wouldn’t have known what to do with them all because, truthfully, throwing flowers away even when they’re dying makes me feel guilty. I would’ve bought the rights to Spring Awakening. I never would have made anyone feel compromised. I probably would be pregnant and wouldn’t have an iPhone. Maybe I would. Maybe I’d have a black lab too.
ii. I never would have left. I would have pined and wanted and waited and patient-ed and done everything I could have to be the good little wife no matter the exazerbation that taking that terrible job, or that no paying job, did. And I would have resented him for it. I remember laying in that barely twin sized bed and wishing he hadn’t rushed to me from Chicago. I remember not feeling heavy by looking at the load in the washer turning and turning and turning but instead, relieved. But that life would have had people and connection. And maybe connection isn’t so bad. Maybe it isn’t something to think you’re above.
iii. I never would have left. I would have gone with him whenever. Every so often, I genuinely thought about bringing up Peru. Saying, “Let’s go there. Let’s just commit there.” Or maybe I should have fixated on whatever particular place we maybe would’ve found ourselves in later, next, after, would have worked. I used to lol about potentially finding a canoe in Bali, or perching on a mountain in Switzerland. I maybe never would have left, but I at least know that I had the intention of having someone by my fucking side.
iv. I would have followed him anywhere. I would’ve forgiven the yelling, the weirdness, the brick through my window and just faced the world as me and him. I was willing to shrug my own shoulders, influenced or otherwise, a lot for him. So I would have Bonnie-d to that Clyde and would have sung along to the radio and jumped into the lake and picked up sticks and, probably, eventually would have eaten those weird flowers his grandma put in our drinks once. But more than that? I would’ve been with him. And how weird would have that been?
v. I wouldn’t have AC. I would sweat through the night and constantly complain. I would still drink wine from mugs, ideally in front of a fan, and I would just revel in my ability to manifest feelings like it is 67 degrees. I would walk through the streets of Brooklyn, I would be a regular at Cafe Colette. Everything would feel effortless but intense at the same time. Everything, including me, would feel necessary.
vi. I wouldn’t have his shirt in my closet. I wouldn’t avoid wearing it. I wouldn’t picture his glasses or his graduate degree or the Harlem apartment that I genuinely know was bigger than mine. I wouldn’t worry. I wouldn’t call him “the one that sniffed and shuffled away.” More than that, I wouldn’t joke about him. I would just be there. Maybe you should just be there.
vii. I never would have left. And so I struggled, and cried in my closet a lot, and overdrafted my account, and still frequently hold my dog’s face in my own hands and say, “I’m so sorry that I’m who you live with.” But, this is an okay life. I think? And it’s one that feels like…well…a win. A real win. And it’s a win that I’m going to take. A win I’m going to have.