there’s a line in this song, where he says “i can’t imagine the courage it took” and “in that moment you were perfect, and it almost made all the bullshit seem worth it.” There’s so much truth to that. Go back to that house that we bought, the house that you hate. I always imagine that in that moment that I walked away, he thought me beautiful. I think about the way that I must have looked when I took off his ring, and how part of him must have saluted me for getting out. I think about how he must have sent me his well wishes when I moved 750 miles away from him in an escape attempt that hasn’t been rivaled by the greatest of criminals. Even Bonnie and Clyde died in a hail of gun-fire and how that didn’t take as much courage as it did to take off my wedding ring and look him in the eye. He will not care. He will not read this, he will not reach for me in his sleep, he will not care that his cousin is fucking his brother’s ex-girlfriend. Maybe the most heartbreaking moment in our lives is the quiet seconds that we give up. Maybe he will see the way I took off my wedding ring and see how beautiful I might have been. Maybe he will think of me and silently listen to this song. Maybe he is reading this, but I sincerely doubt it.
But I know he knows everything. I know he meant it when he said I was dead to him. I’m not going to pretend that his letting me go was anything less than the best gift he could have given me, but I’m also not going to pretend that I was anything less than heartbroken when he gave up on us. But there were songs that got me through it. Songs that I listened to over and over and I learned to live with a piece of me dead.
Oh! To be young and dumb again. I wish that I had that naivete that I carried with me, despite my past. There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t mourn the girl who I lost. I wish that I could tell her. I wish I could warn her. But she wouldn’t have done it differently. She would love without caring about the future. She would have loved him in a way that couldn’t be possible under different circumstances. She would damn the circumstance and let herself get hurt. I wish I had her strength.
But I don’t. I am hurt, someone who is cautious in ways that are damaging. Someone who keeps heart under lock and key. Someone who finally believed him when he said I was his everything. Someone who took a shot on someone who said all the pretty words. I am someone who believed him when he said he loved me. And none thanks to you. Here’s the truth, I am alone. I think of lemmings, and the way they will follow each other to their own deaths. I think of moths, and the way they fly toward a light which will kill them, and I know that this is us. I am the lemming, the moth; I know that I am, and have always been, alone in this. You are removed, and I am picking up the pieces you decided weren’t worth picking up.
But my dad says “Come home,” and you called me estranged. I think you miss me at odd times. I think you wonder where I am.
I think I sing out loud and wish you could hear me. I think you envy me my Washington life and picture me alone in a thriving metropolis. You are almost right. I am alone in every way except the one you imagine me. You cannot know the woman I am now. I am independent in a way you couldn’t imagine. I am in love in a way you would find smothering.
He loves me, Kyle. He kisses me in his sleep and reaches for me in dreams. He LOVES me. You wouldn’t get it. I don’t know you anymore. But I know that he knows me. I know that he will try in situations you couldn’t or wouldn’t. I know that he will look at me like I have the answers to many questions.
You will say he doesn’t know me. I will say that he knows me better than you ever did.
Eat all the blackberries!!!!!!! (at Home)
I have learned something. Seattle has changed me from the inside. I am someone I wouldn’t have recognized two years ago. I do small things that would be so unfamiliar to me and unfamiliar to you. I smoke a cigarette on the crowded streets, watching tourists in their huge sunglasses, cameras strapped around their necks as they stare at the large buildings in wonder. I smell the saltiness of the sound, and listen to the disembodied voice of the underground transit station warning me to hold on to guard rails, and report unattended items. I walk into this opulent building like I own it, and in a small way, I do. I sit at a desk during the day, colorful with pictures of Sam and Riley and my animals. I type quickly and quietly. I use my keycard to get into the gym at lunch and run four miles while I wonder where you are.
We create our world from the inside out. Small areas of ownership that let us feel surrounded by home. Home isn’t a place; it’s something you identify as your own in a world that is otherwise unfamiliar. Shoreline is home. Work is home. The elliptical that I run on is home for the short while that I occupy it. His arms, the shower, the laundry basket. All of these places feel like home. You and Sacramento have become a stranger to me. I can’t picture you the same way I used to. I used to be able to imagine you getting into your car, shaving, falling asleep, and swigging a beer. But I have come to realize that I can’t picture these things anymore. I have not seen you do them in your surroundings. You get into a car I wouldn’t recognize, shave at a bathroom sink I’ve never seen, lay beneath sheets I’ve never touched, drinking a beer with a chipped tooth in a way that would be unfamiliar to me. Because I have built my home, and you aren’t in it. The same way I am not a person who has claimed a piece of yours.
My mother came to see me here. I sat across from her at a table in my favorite brunch place, overlooking the water of Puget Sound, and she said to me, “So, this is your Seattle?” This made me smile; made my chest swell with pride when I told her it was. Seattle. MY Seattle. A place that I have made home where you are not welcome, and will never come to. I know these streets, I’ve walked them. I know the bus routes, I’ve ridden them. I have swum in its waters, cried into Puget Sound. I have fallen in love here, kissed lips, ate the food, and all the while marveled at the world that doesn’t contain even a strong memory of you.
How do you do it? How do you continue to live in that world that is so thick with my past? You work for my father, alongside my brother. Sit on our couch, pet my cat. Look at my face in our daughter’s, eat at restaurants we went to, shop in grocery stores that we shopped at together. How do you bear it? I’m torn between two opposing explanations. Either you never really cared about me, and it’s not painful to experience these things because you actually aren’t reminded of me. Or, you see me in everything, and you are nursing the empty hole that I have left in that town and your life. It matters to me more than it should.
It’s my birthday. 29. That seems like a very high number, a number to signify the ending of one era and the edge of another. I am hopeful, for the first time in years. I am looking forward to the end of this decade of my life and eagerly awaiting the next. A decade of promise, of hope, of finally getting my shit together.
I am not alone anymore. And only knowing this can I look back and see how, despite the fact that I was surrounded by people, how very alone I was. I had never been appreciated the way I am now. I had never been with someone who loved me so much, and unabashedly told anyone who would listen long enough.
I am glad that I have made it this far. Mom said it would take 2 years, and this is the 2nd anniversary. She was right. Happy birthday to me. I’ve moved on.
I am happy. Finally.