Here's What I Was Thinking As I Walked Home After You Dumped Me
RomanceBreaking Up

Here’s What I Was Thinking As I Walked Home After You Dumped Me

I haven’t really been eating right for a while. For all the fad diets and eating disorders I’ve test-driven, nothing keeps me model-skinny like anxiety does. I could slice you open with my hip bones if I wanted to— if you wanted me to, though we don’t do that anymore. I miss it. Letting you devour me. I miss you wanting to devour me.

I’m so hungry. And I can’t eat.

The first time you dumped me it was 7:30 a.m. and I had just put my clothes back on after spending the night in your bed, in your arms. I was totally defenseless. Pajamas, bed head, glasses, no makeup, eyes still puffed red from crying to you—not even to you, we weren’t even talking about it, I was just crying near you—the night before, sick with my own anxiety, which you act like you’ll never understand even though you suffer them too, these explosions of the mind, you almost puked in airport security on that trip I’d just taken you on…

My bitterness makes me digress.

I was totally defenseless.

And hungry then, too.

So, everything shatters, just like that, and I’m running away, just like that, and I’m hoping you’re gonna chase after me, but I know someone who’d dump a sick girl first thing in the morning must be sick themselves, so would never do anything that selfless anyway. This part of Vancouver is so fucking ugly. It’s not even suburban but all the houses look the goddamn same—every house is a Vancouver Special, like yours, which means every house is yours, which means every house is one I can never, ever, ever go back to. There are so many trucks pummeling along 41st Avenue, intimidating, screeching. How easy it would be, to step in front of one.

I’m trying to call a friend but I’m shaking so badly my phone falls to the ground, and I think my stomach fell down with it, and now I can’t breathe, which means I’m gonna die. I’m gonna die I’m gonna die I’m gonna die I’m gonna die I’m gonna die right here on this park bench in the middle of South Van, and it’s so fucking cold, and when I die my body will freeze over and my icy, rigid cadaver will not feel any different than it had in life.

My call is answered. I pick up the phone. “Breathe,” I am told. I breathe. “Don’t panic.” I panic still. Eventually: “Come down from this zenith of terror.” I come down, wearily. “Go home, you are so close.” Yes.

Getting there requires navigating through this parking lot off Fraser Street that I’m convinced is bewitched. Somehow, it possesses all drivers who pass through it into forgetting how to fucking drive. The way I see it, I’m probably going to die in one of three ways: 1. given my history of mental illness, suicide, 2. given my father’s early cause of death, pancreatic cancer, or 3. given statistics, a car accident. If I do happen to go out via that last option, I can almost guarantee the lethal hit won’t be on a highway. It will be in the parking lot a block from my house, going twenty clicks an hour.

There’s a laundromat on Fraser whose back door lets out onto this spellbound parking lot, staining the air with this divine detergent perfume. It’s still a back alley, it’s filled with dumpsters and used syringes and the occasional lowlife, but without your sight, your scent could never tell.

Sometimes, just for a second, when I walk past it, I close my eyes. Inhale, deeply. Make some of the world, for a moment, disappear. It’s like meditation, but for anxious wrecks who are past the point of feeling the slight hope required to make actual meditation feasible.

One time, in that second between shutting my eyes and opening them, that second spent waving a white flag at my life with sheer relief, that second— just a second— I let the tenseness leave my body, a car appeared from thin air and leaned on its horn.

Yeah, buddy, thanks, I see you there.

My eyes are open, now. You can stop honking.

You’re right, I should know better.

It’s a magical parking lot, depending on your definition of ‘magical.’

I should know better. Life is funny like that, depending on your definition of ‘funny.’

The first time you dumped me it was 7:30 a.m., and the laundromat wasn’t open yet. All I could smell was garbage, and gasoline.

That day and the days after made me wonder—after a decade of depression, of dread, all the death, the damage—how I could possibly have any new depth to discover of my despair, how I could possibly have anything left in me to cry. I wondered, if I counted the volume of the tears I’ve shed throughout the years, how large the body of water I have birthed would be, and what I would name her. My ocean. My blue.

You knew this about me, still know this about me, that my brain cannibalizes me. You knew this from the start. More importantly, you knew that I am always trying my best. I learned early on how to love that which is fragmented and can’t always know how best to love you back. My father—he loved me. Not… correctly. But sincerely. Of this I am sure. So, of this, I am endlessly forgiving.

The second time you dumped me, you told me, “I can’t fix you,” like I had ever asked you to.

Fix me. Like I am broken. Like I was, at some point, whole.

I do not want you to fix me—I do not need to be fixed. But could you learn, as I have learned, how to love that which is fragmented and can’t always know how best to love you back? Could you love me? Could you love me and my ocean blue daughter? Not as a father, for she is mine, virgin birthed. But could you love me?

This hunger I feel, this need of mine as I waste away, it is not weak.

If anything, it is an ultimate strength. To need. Others. After everything they’ve done to me.

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