I am a creature of habit. I don’t know if it’s intentional, or if it’s out of want or need, but I do the same thing nearly every single day. I wake up later than I’m supposed to. I brew coffee on the way to the shower. The shower that is at least 317 degrees hotter than my body would appreciate. The water, its subtle trace of tin, reminds me I really need to buy salt for the softener on the way home today, just like I should have done yesterday. Just like I should have done a week ago. I do my makeup first & then my hair. While in my robe, held shut by my hair clip because I can’t find my belt, I give my dog his pills before we go outside. Brush teeth. Pour coffee. Pick out shoes & earrings. I then drive 37 minutes worth to the job that supports my habit of buying 75% of things that are crucial & some other percentage of things that don’t belong in this house out of necessity.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, if we’re keeping track, that any non-everlasting love creates a deluge of all the worst things. Insecurities. Palpitations. The eroding of any hold I felt I had on my state of living. Most all of my liaisons have ended in a way that I didn’t agree with. Sudden. Without warning.
Fruit basket. Mother fucking. Upset.
When culminations materialize in some blitzkrieg fashion, they are often left open ended. Without closure. Annie got her gun & got up & left. The worst form of mental abuse to someone who wants to talk things t h r o u g h. A beginning. A middle. An infinite end.
So listen. I want to sit with you. At an old bar. That one that you’re thinking of. I want to stare at half filled liquor bottles while you tell me why you’ve changed your mind. I will wonder if the bartender remembers the better times we had here. When I didn’t look so in despair. So desperate for another drink. Of alcohol or of you. When we became regulars & we laughed. I will cry, regardless of the fact that we’re in public. I will order several more rounds. I will remember, while I’m sitting with you, every lovely & perfect thing we did together. That wooden bar, filled with reminders of people before us will feel the same under my fingers though I am so much more melancholy this time. I will check the clock just to wish that the hands would slow their tick-tocking so that I’d have a little more time with you. The clock that looks as though it’s melting away under my intentions like a Dali painting.
And then I will let you let me go.
But you never let me have that, did you? And you won’t. You simply went away. You slipped out like a guest at a party you didn’t want to attend. And so our love became a haunted house that I don’t want to visit anymore. So this is addressed to you, dear John:
You haven’t spoken to me in so long. Though I love the literally written word, I am far too lazy to put pen to paper & also the cold makes my fingers hurt. Since I spent many of my younger days typing with Mavis Beacon, I can get this finished faster than that old, romantic way anyway. I also won’t get ink on my hands from not understanding how to work a quill. Maybe it’s strange I’m composing a letter to you in a blog. Speaking like a ghost writer on the world wide web, but maybe someday you’ll read me here.
Do you remember that summer when I met you? It was so happenstance. So kismet. Everything connected, but I didn’t quite recognize it in those first days. Albeit, there was something about you. The way you looked at me under florescent lights as if I didn’t look a shade above the paleness of death. A knowing that you’d be smuggled into my life & I wouldn’t want you to leave. That you’d never leave, but not in a creepy serial-killer-who-locked-you-in-my-basement kind of way. Do you remember how you contacted me? Several days in a row? You asked me what my favorite beer was & since I quite adore aimless life questions, I discerned in that immediate second that I was in trouble. I didn’t have the places in me to fit you in. I wasn’t prepared.
And then a silent week went by & you texted to check in. You already were taken by a lover & I kind of was, as well. We met for casual drinks on a Friday after work & by the end of a few hours you finally told me about that love of yours & I told you about mine & how it was in a slow, steady descent on its way to crashing. Before we said goodnight you confessed your want of dating me which came as such a surprise I don’t think you noticed my mouth falling open as you walked me out from my favorite, dimly lit bar.
Nobody has ever enjoyed me so fast. You even called me that night to tell me what a time you had & we continued to talk for hours. Who does that anymore? None that I know of. But we did that. I laughed. And I listened to your stories. And your smoky, deep crow made me collapse so far into my bed I wasn’t sure I would get back out & not just because my mattress is a piece of shit. As far as I’m concerned, it’ll stay one of the best nights that I will live out in my existence here, along with the several other nights that made me wonder how I ever lived this many years without you. I left you alone the next day until you told me that you missed me. We had only been in each other’s presence for the equivalent of a calendar day. But still, you missed me! And I missed you.
You started calling me every night. So much so that I resigned my position on leaving my phone on silent to turning it up as loud as it would go. I frequently fell asleep with it nestled in my hand or shoved under my pillow probably posing a serious fire hazard.
We started spending nights & weekends together. You packed overnight bags & cleaned my gutters & washed off my Adirondack chairs. We went for walks. Through the woods. To the backyard. Talking about nothing & everything while you took long drags on softly burning cigarettes. On that porch being slowly overtaken by the Cottonwood tree. We made inside jokes & created mementos. You showed me magic tricks that blew my drunken mind & sang me Johnny Cash in bed, holding me so close to you that I didn’t know where I ended & you began. You made me feel so incredibly, unassumingly, beautiful. I mattered to someone. I mattered to you. Do you remember?
I struggled many days, finding you too charming & too young. You said the 7 year difference was complete malarkey. I believed nothing. I believed everything. You would thank me for letting you come over. For being me. For kissing you. There were surprises at work with gas station roses & dates for later that night. You used to hug & hold me just when I walked by & so I inherently feared the day I wouldn’t be hugged & held. I planned out adventures with you during my daydreams, like kayaking since you convinced me I wouldn’t get stuck in it should I tip it over. I plotted meeting your family & you meeting mine. Holidays & gatherings & nights after work would no longer have to be full of the emptiness of being alone. How nice to show up with a warm body instead of just cake & salutations. You kept calling. I kept answering. I was being so mutually admired I knew the universe had tilted on it’s mistaken axis. My insides were screaming from joy, not worry. For once in my life.
And then one night you didn’t call. Just like that. Tuesday was great & Wednesday was hell. I think you told me you fell asleep. You didn’t call the next night, either. I tried to cover up my intensely sudden anxiety by sending you a Drake gif of ‘You used to call me on my cell phone.’ I know, I am hilarious. We met a couple more times for a couple more beers but I’ve done this before. I know when someone is avoiding me like I avoid people I know in the aisles of Target. Like Jane Austen said, ‘I was quiet but I was not blind.’ I offered you several outs. I knew that lover of yours that you had had when we met was back in your life. But you assured me it was nothing. You always have been especially convincing.
And so began the social media tags from her. And my repeat questions. Your reiterating of it being all on her part & none on yours. Exasperated from answering my carbon copy interrogations like I was some annoying toddler, finally you were able to declare that you didn’t know what you wanted. Do you know what befalls a heart when you tell it something but then you take it back? Pandemonium. When I showed up in that hospital room back in the 80’s, I was given the birthright of beating scenarios to death. Maybe I spent too long in the birth canal, I don’t know. I allocate every second of my time not distracted by work or song trying to dissect what I did that was enough to push you back to the arms of someone I didn’t think you loved anymore. When I stopped eating corn, it was because I had had too much of it on my salads & so I became sick of it. This is what I suspect happened with me. You tired of me. Became disenchanted. But far too quickly. Just like the salad corn!
If we had been following rule-books or timelines, everyone would have considered us quite mad for loving each other. After all, it was a handful of months that we toyed with the notion of together. If it needed upholding, I was prepared. Maybe it explains why I spend an embarrassing lot of time watching Catfish & 90 Day Fiance. To validate that there are other people willing to risk humiliation & heartbreak even though every component of it suggests insanity. But you’re gone now. You haven’t come to spend the night with me. You haven’t reached out, by hand or by word. My phone has reclaimed its resounding silence. What we had is like a recollection of the summer I spent working on a train through the inner belly of Alaska. Much too perfect to last beyond a season.
I had to look up the origin of the Dear John letter. The internet says it started in the days of WWII when many men were stationed overseas & rather than wait for them to return, bored housewives left them for a man who was stateside & wrote them a letter to explain. It is my only hope that I can absolve myself like some lady who’s found another lover. So I will put you in a jar like the others. Like I’m curating some broken heart’s museum, full of relics & memories & artifacts of better days. All high up on a shelf so that I can’t quite reach but I know you’re still there.
Tonight I did the same thing I do, day after day. I drove those 37 minutes back. Took out the dog, heated up leftovers, walked my laundry down to the basement where I always leave the light on. Turned on mind numbing television before succumbing to the need to take a hot shower. To wash off the parts where I thought about you today. Plugged in the twinkles to remind me some things still sparkle. And I will go to sleep alone. Without you. Again, as if I never even knew you at all. Because where did you go?
You haven’t spoken to me in so long.
-a damsel & her dog-
Since I discovered there’s a recurring Tom Hanks gif thing happening, I may as well throw one in here, too. From You’ve Got Mail, appropriately & exactly what I look like when I write. Xoxo.