My Words Are Like Weapons

why can't they protect me?

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Sing me to sleep tonight.

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.

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Oh god, again.

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.