Moving on is not like a birthday, you can’t count down the hours ‘til it arrives and you can’t mark it on a calendar and you can’t call up your friends to help you celebrate. You can’t plan for it and you can’t conclude it by blowing out a candle. When moving on happens there will be no announcements, no notifications, no congratulations. There will be no parade; only you will know. Moving on is like aging that way, if aging happened backward. If the passing of days made you new and young, if your condition only had room to improve. Instead of a throbbing pain in your right knee forcefully, increasingly making its presence known, first with a whisper and then with a mumble and then with a shout, ‘til you can’t move, ‘til you can’t walk; moving on is gradual like that except when it’s over, you can walk just fine. You can run, even.
Moving on is like this: one day you forget the taste. The next, you forget the smell. Then the touch. Then the laugh. Then the smile. Then the jokes. Then the eyes, the hair, the hands, the feet. You forget the socks. You forget the fingers, the toes, the sex. You forget the pulses, the beats, the rhythms and how you sometimes felt like they all belonged to you. You forget the words; finally, you forget the voice that spoke them. Moving on is like one day, you’re walking or reading or drinking the sun and one of those footprints, one of those artifacts will creep into your consciousness, “already seen,” the French call this, déjà vu, and you won’t know where it belongs or how it got there. All it takes is a familiar laugh, a recognizable word and you are transported to who knows where. You are a confused paleontologist now, scrambling to make sense of things left behind, trying to reunite the right dinosaur with the right bones. The scar from his burst appendix goes here, the part of his leg that doesn’t grow hair belongs there, I think this is his morning breath but maybe it belongs to someone who came before him; some other ghost, some other relic. His taste is an aftertaste now, his crow’s feet a souvenir with no place to call home. That’s what moving on is like.
Moving on is not like beginning a new chapter, it’s like beginning a new book — with each turned page, the last story you read fades into the background. A fairy tale that becomes just another book on a shelf; folded corners and underlined words the only reminder of how you used to touch and hold and love it. Moving on is when you begin to forget the intricacies of a character you knew intimately, you forget what he did for a living and the way he prepared grilled cheese and the nickname he had for his first girlfriend. You forget how he lost his virginity, you forget his middle name.
Moving on is waking up without a sour feeling in your stomach, looking at a familiar menu and ordering something different, taking the direct route to a destination and not the one that crosses a path you once set in stone. Moving on is when you think about him and don’t punish yourself for it, when he begins to evoke more of a scientific response than an emotional one, like “This is a 6’0” blonde-haired person who exists,” and not “This is a person I wish I’d never met; this is a person who has made me less of one.” Moving on is not to destroy or to combust or to set ablaze, it is simply to move, to advance through space and time, to leave behind the familiar dull of heartbreak for the new, the unknown, the strange. Moving on is a bird flying south for the winter who decides maybe the warmth isn’t so bad, who decides maybe he’ll stay there for awhile; moving on is like freedom, is what moving on is like.