You know how people say that all they want is to receive what they gave? I get it, but the more I think about it, the more stupid it seems to wait around for someone to mold around the shape of what you gave them already. Sometimes, I think that everyone’s too tired from carrying around the people they used to be—there’s no place safe to put them down—and their hands are too full with the dragging legs of their former selves to take what you’re handing them. And still I’m standing there, as if I expect that to change the longer I wait, but what if I’m just blocking the path to whatever place they can finally put down their burden?
I know I never said what you wanted me to, and I was always either too quiet or too demanding, but Laura, sometimes I just want someone to talk to. What if it was you who understood me best, and I’ve lost that forever? When you were alive, I thought being free of you would make me happy—not immediately, of course, but eventually. I thought this because I knew it was inevitable that I’d be free of you, the day was coming, I just didn’t know when or how.
Someday, I thought, I’d just wake up and realize how liberating it was to not be bound to your phone calls or the train schedule. I’d be able to walk down the street in the sunlight without imagining you (or me) dying in a million different ways.
I remember what it was like, though, being tied to you as you sank. I’m free, I like to tell myself whenever I feel lonely, but when I close my eyes and think about it, I don’t remember untying myself from you before or even after you hit the bottom. I miss you, Laura. I wish I didn’t.
To be honest, I find that there are two kinds of people in the world. There’s the people I pass every day in the street, the everyday people, people who know no pain or know pain greater than I’ll ever see, people I’ve hurt but don’t know anymore, and then there’s you. The people who don’t matter, and the people who do. When I think about this, I feel a million miles away from you.
I’m scared that I won’t know how to be in love for much longer. When I’m too old to paint my eyes black or chain smoke and laugh it off, too old to sprawl across the hood of a car and just watch someone with hazy pleasure, how will I fall in love?
How will anyone fall in love with me?
I never found it so easy to cry. It felt like the universe didn’t want my tears, applied an invisible pressure to my lips, my eyes, covered up my sorrow with cotton gauze. And so all my sadness crystallized, gleamed quiet somewhere inside me. But it whispered to me in the dark, slid gently through me, stopped up the holes that began to fray the edges of my confidence. Sometimes it was my only friend, the only one I could talk to, I embraced it with open arms, it was always there, it just had to be woken up.
But I cried for you. It felt like an amputation, but I did. Maybe I was okay with being weak if it was for your sake.
But that’s what it felt like to get your heart broken, it was huddling on the floor with your palms pressed to the wood, it was touching your forehead to anything fixed. Maybe you looked like you were praying because you were, even if you didn’t know it, you were praying to whoever you were losing to come back into focus, praying to the world to allow it to happen, praying to yourself to get back up someday. That was heartbreak, that was the only truth, that was opening your mouth and hoping that whatever was dying inside you would come out, that was realizing you would carry it with you forever, that was shutting your mouth tight again and shutting your soul away, knowing you’d done something irreversible to it, splinting it with fear and a love that was no longer yours but would continue to infect you as long as you still had a single good memory or a lasting impression of a soft kiss.