I thought about pretending that you didn’t plague my heart. I would maybe act like they do in all of those movies – I would gather everything you’d ever given me into an old misshapen box and throw it all over your front lawn. Maybe (only for special effect) I would even light some of it on fire. And just like that, every memory I had of us would become seemingly distant and disconnected – almost like our moments belonged to someone else entirely. Eventually, you’d run outside screaming that I was a crazy bitch and that you’d loved that sweater, but by then I’d be long gone.
The problem is that you did plague my heart. This wasn’t a movie. I wasn’t Molly Ringwald or Kat Stratford or Julia Roberts. You weren’t John Cusack standing outside my bedroom with a boom box convincing me that I’m worth something and that ‘In Your Eyes’ is the best song ever created.
I couldn’t numb your pain with the companionship of strangers because let’s face it: someone who wasn’t familiar with the whole puzzle couldn’t put the pieces back together again.
So I ran. I ran out of your arms and out of my town and out of myself. I broke down the bridge between my house and your house. My dogs forgot your scent and I stopped buying the double-stuffed Oreos I knew you liked.
I burst into tears when Bob Marley came on the radio and my heart fell through my butt every time I saw a white Mustang on the road. I cried. I pitied myself. I let the polaroids of us stay hanging on my mirror. I listened to the CD you made me; I took down the shelves you built; I put the shelves back up.
I questioned my worth and myself and every time you told me that you loved me.
I guess this is where you expected me to stop writing. Maybe you thought that I’d end by stating that I’m never going to recover, that I’m destined to die alone in really good shoes and that the shattered remnants of me are just that: shattered. But that time has passed. Unbeknownst to you, you’re not the star of this story. I am.
I did more growing up in the last eight months than I did in the entire combination of 22 years that came before them. You took a backseat to all of the ways that I had never lived for myself, and I started doing things simply because I wanted to do them.
I didn’t automatically turn on the radio station you liked, but rather I screamed the lyrics to JoJo while I drove to get myself pistachio ice cream. You liked going out on Friday nights, but I learned that I prefer taking a cooking class where a beautiful Spanish dude teaches me how to season paella. I realized that I like being outgoing enough to talk to strangers, even if you don’t. I like being the type of person who cries when other people cry.
I like the fact that I wear baggy sweaters in August, that I always have candles lit and that I probably read too much. I like having time to eat frozen pizza with my roommates on Tuesday nights. I like my unprecedented love for One Tree Hill and I like that I know that the homeless guy on 15th and Walnut actually prefers books, not money.
I like that what you want can’t eclipse what I need because I am what matters in my life. And I like it being me.
This is where you might get confused, so bear with me:
Thank you. I’m writing to thank you. Things never would have perfectly fallen into place if they hadn’t first disastrously fallen apart. Admittedly (I’m sure this will come as a shock) it wasn’t what I wanted at first. But I took the high road. In the process, I learned to appreciate, respect, and dignify myself. More importantly, I learned to feel sorry for anyone who can’t appreciate the person that I am.
Because of these last eight months, I wake up with a smile. To be fair, I still sometimes question who I am and where the hell I’m going. Sometimes I don’t feel fully free. But it’s okay if I listen to the same Beatles album four times in a row or make my sister stay on the phone with me for two hours straight. It’s okay if get scared when I’m walking to my car by myself. It’s okay if sometimes I cry. More times I laugh. Today I woke up with a smile, and today that’s good enough for me.
So there you have it. I recovered and I stitched together the shattered remnants of myself. I might still die alone in really good shoes, but that would weirdly be okay with me. I do not want and I do not need anyone else to make me feel complete, confident or content with the person that I am.
After all, you’re not the sun. I am.