Frankly, there wasn’t anything to break. Funny, then, that there’s something to write. But there’s always something to write because there’s always something to think, even those thoughts you shouldn’t be thinking because you and your friends and your sister and even he would tell you that you’re overanalyzing again. And you need to stop. There wasn’t anything to break.
But like that back road without any traffic and the upcoming right turn, stopping is overrated and you roll right through. Through the first flush of a new flirtation and into a year (or two, or hell why not make it three) of a long-distance nothing sporadic enough that it only ever almost ceases.
The “this girl on the radio made me think of yous” and the “just wanted to let you know I hurt my thumb” or “I liked this book” or “I’m movings” that always seem to know when you are no longer consumed. Until one day you’re back at the beginning and that turn is coming up, only this time you go left instead of right and the communication isn’t nearly so scattered. You text or call or chat online and sometimes…sometimes you stay up late into the night talking about nothing at all, just tracing lazy designs in the sheets.
Left was a dead end, though. Maybe that’s why there wasn’t any traffic when you brazenly ignored all the signs. Friends, you declare, one turning around while the other shifts into reverse.
Silence, sudden and complete. Curious in its quality, neither tense nor stretched yet somehow wrong – you know that eventually you will break it, drag in a gasping breath and shatter the past four months. Friends, you declared, and friends you shall be. Silence is over and you’re finally obeying the rules of the road. Until one day you’re faced with a blank subject line in an email to your friends. Incredulous, you fill it the only way you know how, hands splayed on the keyboard: askjafkgdakis.
There are no words, only letters.
“How are you feeling?” she asked me, popping up on chat. Funny. I thought my subject line said it all.
“To be honest, I’m not sure.” How should I be feeling, faced yet again with the incontrovertible proof that mine was not going to be a story about falling in and then out of love, mine was not going to be a story about a break up? Instead, mine was – is? – a story of letting go.
Clinging. No, that’s wrong. Tenacious. He, this – us – is tenacious. One of us moves forward and the other sends out a tendril to wind and bind and eventually choke even the most pitiful progress. It wasn’t my intention to make him jealous when I sent him the short vignette of an evening so absurd it begged to be shared. And yet that’s precisely what my thousand or so words on small town life and being set-up with the much-older-than-me best man from my cousin’s wedding managed to achieve. I made him jealous of a thirty-something deer hunter who lives near enough to me but 1300 miles from him. He knows he’s being ridiculous. I’m twenty-two. He knows he’s being ridiculous. I’m a vegetarian. He knows he’s being ridiculous. We’re friends. He knows he’s being ridiculous. And yet, he tells me anyway.
I asked why. I will always and forever ask why despite the fact that I never want the answer once I’ve got it.
He’s supposed to be over me – over us, he says. But it’s been three-plus years and he’s beginning to think that it’ll never happen.
You’ll always be the one that got away, I say.
Temporarily, in my view… It isn’t over until one of us is in the congregation at the other’s wedding.
I close the chat window.
No, I don’t.
But maybe I wish I had.
How do I feel? There are no words, only letters.