Clarity came in the form of floating through two mountains, criss-cross on a kayak. The wind still, yet slamming and pounding on the back of my head. It wasn’t the altitude or the long car drive that made me sick- so sick that I spent the drive up the mountain with my head pressed against the seat in front of me, feeling the car veer to the side of the mountain. It wasn’t the altitude, or the hours spent in the car, or the food that I was allergic to but ate anyway, oh no. It was the first twenty-four hours of withdraw. The very first time that it hit me and not only did it hit me, it slapped me and reminded me and resonated with me that we were gone.
You see, you had left a long time ago. Moved states away and called it the distance, and then came back when it got too cold. Gave me a nickname, and then had to scroll through the list of unsaved numbers in your phone to summon me. And just when you crept away for what I thought was the final time, I blinked, and before my eyelashes could even curl to my eyelids, you stood in front of me, a shell, broken, asking me why I was so far away.
It happened gradually. I felt you leave the more I heard your voice, or felt your lips trail the inside of my thighs, or watched you fight to avoid eye contact with me as I stood in your doorway to say goodbye. You washed off of me as I poured black dye onto my roots so that I wouldn’t recognize myself when I looked in the mirror. Everything, and I mean truly everything, began to pull you away from me, and every time you felt my presence slip out of your gravity, your name popped up on my phone screen.
And everyone will scream “couldn’t you have just ignored it?” and write it off as the classic tale of a twenty something who mistook a one nightstand for something more. Or a girl who can’t handle her wine falling into bed with a boy who didn’t know how to handle his loneliness. Girl versus boy; man versus woman- it all adds up to the same thing, and no matter how we tried to rewrite the ending to save it or salvage it or surrender to it, the cold “it” in the room remained the same. I couldn’t love you. Not because you were unlovable, but because you had just spent the last two years of our life making a list of reasons as to why I was.
There are two mountains in Colorado who sat by idly and watched you escape me for a final time. With each exhale and inhale of the thin air, and with each labored breath I took, little pieces of you escaped with it. The way your hands felt on my back disappeared when the cold water from below hit my skin. Your laugh when you made fun of music that I loved drifted away with the sound of the wind. The general presence of “you” slipped away, and while I wanted to fight to pull you back into place, to keep you next to me, to remind you of how you liked my smile and thought my hair smelled good, I had to let you abandon me. Long hours stretching into sleepless nights of a girl staring at herself in the mirror wondering what she had become washed away in the simplest gesture of a smile from a stranger. The girl who swore she was damaged, promised that she was broken, floated through two mountains whole.
You see, we are never as broken as we think we are. The storm is never as bad as it feels- the winds are just really heavy and you may lose electricity for an extended period of time. Think of every cliché about heartbreak, and then multiply it with every double standard about sex and it will equal how you feel the moment you’re rowing in a kayak and it hits you that you can say goodbye. You should say goodbye.
So this is the place where we say goodbye. Part of me hoped that it hurt you as much as it hurt me. Part of me hopes that you too didn’t eat or sleep very well for the months that followed the final parting shots. A smaller part of me hoped that we could change our minds.
This is the story of “Girl Loved A Boy Who Cared A Little Bit When He Wanted To Feel Something”, and she’s going to be mad and bitter and hurt and sad and heavy and light after the first chapter, but make sure she just keeps reading.