Kindly return the parts of me that I gave to you. You can leave them on the desk, the one you bought but I picked out. The one against the window I look out all day, where I’d be sure to see you if you ever came back. The one I began to use when you couldn’t bring yourself to work anymore. Please leave them next to the unsorted mail that you left when you came to move out while I was still away working. You can leave the parts that don’t fit there in the fridge, next to the piles of old takeout and pizza boxes from all the shitty chains you like. We’re not in New York anymore, so I guess Dominos is excusable. You can leave them on the coffee table with all of your New Yorkers and Bloomberg Businessweeks. They’re stacking up and I can’t read them fast enough to become the type of person you would have waited for anyways.
You don’t need to put them away, let me do it. I’ve changed where I keep stuff now, I have more room without all of your things. You sure had a lot of things for someone who thought I was shallow, who didn’t want to make or care about money. I will clean up after you for the final time, like how I took out the trash you left when you were in the house before you moved. You said you moved out while I was away because it was the right thing to do. It was the thing you and your parents decided to do at your mom’s kitchen table. In that house in the woods in North Carolina, the one that never had music playing in the background.
You had a meeting with your parents about how to do it right. Do it while she’s gone. That was it. Take everything that is yours and some things that are hers. Pack them in your car and park the car somewhere. Don’t tell her where it is. Just say somewhere on La Cienega, it’s a big street. Don’t tell her when you’re coming back to get it. Ignore her texts about where her things are. Come to Los Angeles for four days but pack in four hours. On the days you are there, do all the things you never would before, her favorite things. See your friends. Go to that Italian restaurant she loves on Santa Monica, the one next to the Troubador. Go hiking by the Hollywood sign. Drive around listening to the Mac Dre tape she got you from the book store on Fairfax. Stress yourself out so you don’t leave time to clean up. She’ll clean up after you. Always. She would have kept doing it for years. Before you leave make sure to ask for your money back, she cares too much about money. Get the cash in the account she was using to pay for your vacations and eventually a house. And that’s what you did. I had never seen you get something done so fast.
Please leave my patience. The trait I used to use on silly things, like listening to you ramble about ’90s rap for 45 minutes to my glazing over eyes. The skill I refined while I waited for you for months to make up your mind and decide if you wanted me. While I waited for you to decide if I was worth it. The thing that I clung to while I sat through the long weekends you asked me to leave you alone while you mapped out a pro and con list of being with me, being in LA, being alive. Except you never made the lists. Instead you just came back with a list of Southern cities you wanted to move to, places that would fix you. Durham, Atlanta, New Orleans. You told me you needed more time to think about it. I wasn’t mad, it just gave me more time to be better, to be perfect so you’d see you needed me too. You didn’t. Don’t.
Please leave the selflessness. I forgot I had it until I got an email notification for rentals in one of the cities I told you I’d move to. And I would have. I was ready. Anyone can do anything for a year. Or for someone they love. “We can have a yard, and maybe another dog,” I said. “Maybe even urban chickens. I think that’s a thing.” You held onto my selflessness when your grandma died and you needed my support only days after you left me. “I’m sorry to bother you about this,” you said. But you weren’t. You knew I’d be there. And I was — I am.
Leave the maturity, the maternity. How I let you be the one with the problems. There couldn’t be two of us. At least not at the same time. All of the time I spent reading about mental health, talking to therapists, and how I never judged or blamed you. How I knew that how bad it was was temporary but the lingering feeling you had was permanent, and how I was okay with that. You were worth it. Remember to leave the instincts I had to take care of you. I need them for me now. To check on your doctor’s appointments, to see if you had eaten, to remind you about your parking tickets and to know what day to mail a card so it got to your mom by Mother’s Day.
Leave the organization, the effort. Give me back the parts of me that planned our trips, Nora’s vet visits, our bills, the dates you’d take me on where I’d still act surprised, impressed. I need the energy I had to make an effort. I need so I can give a shit about something else. Anything else. Give back what motivated me to dress up for you. In black dresses, tight ones — but nice fabrics, things that felt expensive. You were such a typical guy, liking sexy clothes. So obvious and easy to impress. Like the time I wore those insane garters under everything at Over the Eight, the bar off North 11th in Williamsburg. The energy I used to run your memory to when you loved writing and help you fuel just a few hours on your laptop to finish a piece. “It’s amazing seeing you in the zone, I don’t know anyone who cares about anything so much” I said. I think it motivated you, you brought it up months later. I heard you’re writing again now. I’m glad.
Make sure to leave all the parts of you that I made that way. The parts of you that grew up, that learned how to love, how to plan a date, how to hustle, to be mine. You don’t get to take them to the next girl. She can show you. You can start over. Back to mattresses on the floor and dollar slices. You can put those parts of you in the credenza, where your record player from the thrift store in Palm Springs was and your video games and your stupid cassette tapes you could only listen to in the car. I haven’t filled it up. It’s still empty if you have anything to store, anything leftover I can have back. You don’t need those parts anyways. They were things I forced. The first things to go when you couldn’t care about anything anymore. When caring about me was keeping you sick for longer.
Please leave the love. Though I don’t really need it right now, you don’t get to keep it. I need it back. I need it to feel whole, you can’t keep using it to fuel you. You can’t have it without having me. I don’t have enough left for someone else. You can leave it in my bedside table. The one from the matching set I was so proud of, we finally had a room big enough for two side tables. I will sage it, get rid of your smell on it, and hang it up to dry to use on someone else, someone who hardly hears your name and only knows versions the of our stories that don’t include you.
Before you go the last time, please leave all the parts of me that I gave to you. I can’t be here without them. I know California is far, but come back just this once. You have to to get your car anyways. The house will be empty so you can do it without me around. That’s the respectful way, you said. The load in your car will be lighter without it all and it will be easier to drive back, you will have more room in your new home without them. I will never bother you about them again, no fake texts to coordinate, no reminders or emails. Just return those parts so we can both be who we were without the other.
And please, don’t forget to lock both doors and leave your keys in the mailbox, not under the mat, when you leave.