Sometimes I think about when we first met, and I laugh.
Who would have thought that almost two years later, that we would be here? This place that is neither here, nor there. How do I even explain our relationship anymore? Better question: how do you, expert of avoidance, how do you explain any of this? In some ways, it feels like more than a relationship; in other ways, I remember the day you yelled at me through the phone from hundreds of miles away, how furious you were over one of my friends innocently referring to you as my boyfriend during your first visit. I guess the mystique of our relationship is just how inexplicable it’s always been, and always will be.
Sometimes I can’t believe I’ve let myself allow you to irrevocably change me, and that I’ve changed so readily into something you can so malleably use. Sometimes I get furious at myself for all of the things – tangible and intangible – that I’ve wasted on you these last two years. Sometimes I think about all of the things I could’ve experienced – other adventures, other people, other loves. Sometimes I wonder how much of myself I left in you, and in the wake of us.
But at the same time, it thrills me that I’ve experienced someone – because you were an experience, not just a person to be met – that has made such an indelible mark on me. On those days, when my hindsight perspective is 20/20, I feel lucky. Those days are far and few between, though.
I think I’m having one of those lucky days. Although, it might just be me missing you yet again.
I once read a quote that said, “I spend my sleepless nights talking to God about you.” It’s nice to know I’m not alone in that, and that other people also have a “You” that they talk to God about. I’m just sorry that my biggest form of loving you these days is praying for you. I’m not an entirely religious or spiritual person, but God is the one person I can talk to about you anymore.
I’m also feeling sorry for God, because He must be really tired of your name and mine, intertwined, coming across His desk every day.
Sometimes, I wonder what kind of direction my life would’ve taken if I had never met you that night down by the water. I can’t decide if it would be better or worse, and that’s what scares me most about all of this. For all of the alternatives and potential situations I give myself about what could’ve happened had I never agreed to meet you that day the US team lost in the World Cup two summers ago, I still can’t decide if I actually, truly wish I had never met you. I think there’s a part of me, no matter how badly we hurt each other, that will always be so grateful to have had the chance to know you. For as much as you broke me, you made me whole in different ways.
And yet, even still, every single time I think of you, even on the good days, even right now, my heart is just like, “For the love of God, could you just fucking stop?”
I think this is me realizing that my broken pieces aren’t so broken anymore. I think this is me finally realizing our inexplicableness had its time, and that time is over. There will be parts of me that cry whenever I think about how beautiful we once were – that first night, drinking a bottle of wine on the rocks looking out into the ocean, telling silly high school stories as we first started to know each other; the first time you told me your family asked about me; kissing underneath blossoming fireworks on a rocky beach cove; driving aimlessly through desolate beach towns at night with you – and then I realize how doomed we inevitably always were: the day you left without any goodbye; that phone call you made from the Jersey Turnpike to try and explain yourself the first time you left me; the time you couldn’t understand why I was drunkenly crying over my dog who had just died; or all of those times you simply disappeared without a word, much less an explanation.
All of those fragments have made up the incongruous, messy pile of memories and experiences of whatever we are, whatever we have been. However, as broken as it seems sometimes, as harsh and dangerous as it looks from a distance, there’s a beauty to it upon closer inspection. Much as there is a method to the madness, there’s a beauty to the destruction.
For in destroying me, I was given the chance to become that much more whole. In destroying me, I got to see the depth in which you can love someone, how closely you can tangle yourself within someone, the ways in which love can inevitably change you, and how much someone can truly mean to someone else. For as much as it felt like you ruined me, that 20/20 hindsight I talked about has really gotten crystal clear. I’m glad you were what broke me, so I can now be better. You were a beautiful destroyer, but the beauty doesn’t have a hold on me anymore. For all that you stole from me, for all of the ways you ruined me, and the ways you so subtly hurt me, I get to learn from them. I can be better in the way I love, in the way I live, in the way I now know I deserve better. I get the chance to be whole again, because of the ways you destroyed me.
Maybe our love’s purpose was designed to destroy, after all. The quiet, calming sense of peace found in some love stories was never meant for us. We were meant to be a love that ruined and wrecked, that inevitably led us to grow and change, though we fought it every step of the way. Our love went hand in hand with pain, masochism at its finest. Pain is the greatest teacher, as it instructs us what not to do in the future, so as to avoid that harsh experience in another, similar instance. And as much as the broken pieces of our love agonizingly drag across my mind and heart sometimes, it has still taught me the ways in which I can be whole now. How I survived this warfare of love, wherein I came out both broken and whole at the same time. It hurts to think about sometimes, but in hurting, that pain still teaches me, and heals me.
Even though it hurts, I will still keep those memories of sitting in your (stupidly elevated) Ford F150 truck passenger seat, listening to Van Morrison on a summer night, close to my heart. The taste of vodka cranberry will always remind me of you. Exit 8 will never be just an exit off the highway for me. They break me, sometimes, thinking about those memories, but like I said, that pain of remembrance both hurts and heals.
If you’ve taught me anything, it’s that loving you was both my destruction, and my salvation. You might have broken me into pieces, and you may have very well destroyed part of who I used to be. But in the end, I saved myself. I put myself back together. In all the times, the innumerable times that you left me shattered by myself, I made a mosaic of our broken memories, and that’s what I talk to God about now. This mosaic of contradictions and love and hatred is how I love you now, and the way was I able to heal.
So maybe I won’t stop talking to God about you; at least, not anytime soon. I’m just hoping you find someway to break (and to heal) yourself someday too.