They were standing over me in the coffee shop; I remember, it was this last December, or maybe it was November, and they were talking about hope, about how terrible it is.
I felt personally insulted; they knew and know how strongly I believe that hope is something beautiful and lovely and vital and good.
I know what they meant now, though. The very same boy who stood over me has proven his point; he gave me hope that looked like tears and truths and love, sitting under the empty carport and an empty sky. He gave me hope pulled straight from his chest and transferred to mine, where it stayed nestled in a cozy little nest until I had the courage to believe it could possibly be true.
All of that is gone now. It’s over.
I’m going to do the only thing I know how to do well: write. Damn the consequences or the feelings that I may hurt; I’m not even angry anymore. Believe me when I write that. I am not angry or sad or heartbroken (it helps when there is no longer a heart to break).
All I am when it comes to him is numb.
what follows will be many (but not nearly all) of the remembers, of the moments, of the adventures — what follows will be what happened, what was felt and said and sung.
This is what I didn’t tell you, what I wanted to say, in the last stages of this tragic affair,
and this is the last time I’ll write about you — the last time I’ll write to you — I swear (can I really, honestly say that, though? We all know there are promises that can’t be kept).
I know I told you time after time after time that I loved you.
I love you more than, I love you like — you know what I mean, how I speak in halves and comparisons, because I feel like it doesn’t count if I don’t qualify it. And it’s true. There aren’t words to express how much I loved — how much I love — you.
Am I allowed to do, to feel, that anymore? Am I allowed to let this adoration of your existence continue to exist inside my chest? Or is this something I’m supposed to quench, to dispel, to purge myself of? Are we enemies? Strangers? Is it acceptable to say hi, to make small talk, or are we dead to one another?
Platonic break ups are worse than those of a romantic nature; there aren’t any rules. There aren’t any norms. It’s strange, it’s new, it’s sad.
It’s more than sad. There isn’t a word for it, really.
Do you remember when I was obsessed with my one word question (I still call it a question, though I always phrased it as a demand)?
Describe yourself in one word.
The first time you chose euphoric, and it fit. You, with your blurred edges and constant motion, the light in your eyes and the laugh that most find contagious — yes, it fit. Of course it fit; how could it not?
I remember the five of us crammed on the top steps of the staircase in that Big Old White House we all love. I remember how we all knew. I remember how full my heart was to be in such a place with those I loved best.
I remember when I asked you again, too, and you didn’t know what you were but you knew what you wanted to be. I remember the desperation in your voice as you spoke the one syllable word. I remember your fingers in my hair and the streetlight that made shadows dance across your nose, your eyelashes skimming your cheekbone as you spoke with your eyes closed tight.
I remember everything you told me that night, and your secrets still weigh me down, tethering me to this earth.
Look at the picture up at the very top of this post. I took that when I was with you. It was that one day, the beautiful day, the one scattered with rain and with sunshine and with a blue sky and with clouds. The contradictory day. I was just beginning to live in a realm of uncertainty when it came to you, to us. The platonic us (you’d stopped loving me like that long before — I’m still so sorry for what I did).
Do you remember? I don’t remember what led up to it, but one second we were at your house and doing nothing, and the next moment I was a passenger in your car for the very first time, we listened to Florence, we spent the day pressed between well-loved black inked pages.
The sky that evening was the most beautiful sky I’d ever seen.
There’s a canvas in the trash can right now.
I’m hoping it’s taken out to the dumpster before I’m tempted to pull it out, to see the cream pages and printed text with the red paint spelling out familiar words, words that I keep whispering to myself tonight as you cross my mind every ten seconds or so.
The polaroid is right below it, below the painting.
It’s so much more difficult, emotionally, to throw out, burn, shred polaroids than it is the prints I order — there’s no going back to that moment, there’s no rescue once it’s gone.
I remember when you drove me to the beach. I was clutching a box of things to my chest, a lighter and bottle of lighter fluid sitting on top.
The wind was too fierce for the flame to catch. I still remember you standing there with me, trying to light it, and we ended up walking. You and me and her wrapped up in thickly woven blankets, and it was sad but it was good.
I let go. I still talked about him, about my hurt and my shame, but I let go of it and I was so glad that you were there to see me take that first step in freeing myself of what had happened, what I went through.
I remember the first time I told you about him, before the beach, and what he did; you were in the backseat, I was riding shotgun, and she was driving, and the music was loud, and she was talking about what she’d done and where she’d been, and there was a moment of quiet, and the words spilled out of my mouth before I had a chance to think,
You were filled with rage, or I thought you were, I thought I could see it in your eyes — how badly you wanted to hurt him for hurting me.
I loved you then.
I love you now.
But I suppose some things never change.
I know I’m running long, and I haven’t said a fraction of what I wanted to. I haven’t even started, really, not when I think about it.
You’d hate this, you know — I’m sitting here at my desk, and I’m listening to Taylor Swift, to every sad song she’s ever written.
I remember when we listened to discographies. I had to listen to Regina Spektor. You had to listen to Taylor Swift. I remember how much you hated it, her, everything I ever played for you.
I hope you shred the letters, the photographs. I hope you mutilate them well. Rip them, drown them, burn them. Discard. Recycle.
I hope you remember everything we’ve ever done, said, felt — I hope you feel it all for one bright and burning moment, flickering hot and alive in your chest. I hope it’s vivid and real and that it hurts more than you can bear, that you’re crushed by the weight of realization as it dawns on you what you’re choosing to give up,
and then I hope you let it fade out to die
(I should probably say thank you for taking this choice out of my hands, because I never would have given up on you).
I hope you don’t mind if I say I hope I don’t see you around. I hope that your heart hardens a little at the thought of me. I hope you think of me, of our eight years, when you read these words, and then I hope you let me go.
You gave me hope, dear friend, and then you took it away, and now I cannot risk even the idea of letting it grow again in the piece of my heart that belongs to you.
I don’t want there to be a misunderstanding about this: I’m not angry. Some of these words might be read as angry words, but I’m not angry at him. I’m confused. I’m hurt. I’m sad. I’m worried about the friends I share with him because people take sides without being asked. I’m grieving; I’m in mourning for something good and precious that is now lost; there is much more lost in this chaotic mess than just him.
I could live with it if it was just him, but there is so much more that I loved that is now far, far out of reach because of this ordeal.
Believe me, please, when I say that I’m not angry, that I hold no grudges, that he is wholly and completely forgiven.
I wanted this to be over,
and it is.