I have sat on the floor of my bedroom with a knot of necklaces, yanking at the ends of them with impatient fingers, making it worse instead of better, so I should have known better when it came time to untangle you from me.
I should have known better than to yank, than to sit on my floor and pull at us, thinking that was how this was going to happen. Thinking I could just pull myself free from you by sheer force of will, by sheer force of wanting to—no, not wanting to, needing to. Having no choice but to.
But I did. For a long time, I pulled. I pulled at my hand where it was still across the country tucked in yours. I pulled at my hopes where they were still caught up in your smile. I pulled at my heart where it was still beating your name. I pulled, I pulled, and I cried myself to sleep every night at the tightening knot of it all.
Anyway, it took time, of course. Everyone says it, but I didn’t want to hear it. I wanted a switch to flip or a rope to cut, but it took time, took me touching the threads lightly, took me tracing them through the knot and tugging them free bit by bit. Took me being patient with my hand and my hopes and my heart.
It took all of that and more, and now it’s been years. It’s been years. Can you believe it’s been years? Sometimes I still find a stray thread of you on my favorite red dress, or in a song on the radio, or in a stranger’s laugh. I don’t hurry to get rid of it, though. It is the most bitter sweetness, the sweetest bitterness, but I hold onto it for an extra second or minute or so, remembering.
You know, sometimes I think of how we started, back when there wasn’t a trace of you on me and not one of me on you. How gently we tangled at first. How easy it would have been at first to separate, to send all of you home with you and all of me home with me. After the first date, maybe. After the second date, possibly. But gradually, we wove a complicated pattern, like a needle pressing into my skin, then yours, your skin, then mine, dragging thread between us with no care for how tightly it pulled.
I am far enough removed now that I can look back and see that it was beautiful. What colors we used. What patterns we made. No wonder it was so hard to undo.
I will never be free of you—I would never want to be. Loving you is an echo tucked in along my bones, a part of me, part of what holds me together. There are still holes in me where the needle came and went, even if the thread is gone.
Even if you’re gone.
I still and always love you, even if you’re gone.