I refuse to stand here and take this anymore. I refuse you telling me that the world is going to hell and each new tragedy is bringing us closer to doomsday. I refuse for you to rain on my sunny days and try to convince me that I need to feel just as miserable as you. I will believe what I believe and I will continue to have hope that there is a greater plan. I will believe in the beauty of sunsets and in the happiness of random messages from friends. I will believe in surprises and kisses and the strength in standing up for who you are. And as you all drown in the negative fires you are starting, I will refuse.
My eyes focused on a black and white picture of fire escapes in the city during a blizzard that I had bid on at a charity auction. I wanted it so badly that night we saw it a studio in Chelsea, but he outbid me. We got in a fight over the ethics of outbidding your significant other on something they wanted, and he quickly handed the photo over saying that he only bid on it so he could give it to me. I never knew if that was the truth, but the ownership of the photo became a bit muddled.
As I stared at it in it’s final resting place on my mantel, I realized that in all of our reckless fights when I purged my NYC apartment of things he had given to me, I had never once thought twice about giving up the photo the fire escapes. I mean, I had scoured the place of any tiny thing, any remembrance of us, and had somehow always missed that photo. Maybe because I always had thought it was mine because I saw it first, bid on it first, even though it was really his.
And in that moment, I realized that I would never possibly be able to separate his things from mine. We had built a life together and the lines of ownership had become quite muddy.
I think that’s the issue with relationships and breakups. We want to completely sever ourselves from the other person, when that other person is now in these tiny little pieces of us that we could never possibly find within us. Whether we adopted a part of their laugh, or the way they grin at us with a crooked smile as though it is enough when something bad has happened, or if we have taken on that way they bite their bottom lip when they think they are onto something. We can’t just sever ourselves from everything that was theirs, or we sever ourselves from ourselves. We have to accept the parts of us that now have parts of them, as lovingly as we accept the rest of ourselves, and understand that some of those parts are incredibly important to who we became through that relationship. Even if the relationship died, the person it morphed us into did not.
We are still alive, and we are going to need ourselves to love every single part of us, even the parts that include them, because those are the parts that are going to need the most of our love. We’re going to need those fire escapes in the future, even when we don’t know their ownership.
You think you are holding all of the tickets to my soul. You smile at me so smugly, as if my entire fate exists in the stark white lines between your words. But you see, when you gained the confidence of holding the tickets to my future, you forgot that there are a million trains leaving the station and maybe, just maybe, I don’t want to take the train you bought the tickets for anyway.
You are the light. You are the energy that fuels me. You are the specs, the pixels, the dust that I am made of. You are the memory that sustains me. When the world tears me apart, you fuse me back together.
I wish I never had to say goodbye, that I never had to experience tears, defeat, failure. I wish I never had to have something so beautiful taken from me, or take something so incredible from someone else.
I wish I could live in a marshmallow world where I’m completely sheltered from what I don’t know (what you don’t know doesn’t kill you).
But people often forget the high price of rent to live among the marshmallows. They forget you pay in experiences, emotions and growth.
Indeed, living in the marshmallow world comes at the cost of not living at all.
Someday, I hope the universe randomly connects us again, forces us to see each other on some abandoned city street that only the two of us know to be a shortcut to that deli on Water St. I hope your face is lit up with joy and pride from the life you’ve made for yourself.
I stare at this photo in shock.
I remember it being taken. I remember clearly thinking that this could very well be the last time that we ever were on a beach together. I remember knowing that you were right behind me, taking the photograph. I remember feeling scared, sick to my stomach, that the end was near.
Yet, as I stare at the photo, I appear to be looking confidently, lovingly at the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen in my life.
I like to think that photo is divinely sent from a happy, confident me to an insecure, lost me. A sign from the future that shows me I am almost out of the storm. Just let go.
I ran away to the beach and hugged my knees up to my legs like I used to do on my family’s old homestead in Wyoming when I was a child. I stared off at the sunset, thinking of all I was losing as it fell into the earth again. I was losing love, a friend, someone to hold me through the longest nights. I shivered, as the dark neared. Only a few more moments, and I would all be all alone.
I hung my head and surrendered to God, praying for peace, as the cool night air raised the hairs on my neck.
Then an odd thing happened. The sun started going back up into the sky, instead of falling down. The sun’s warmth put the hairs back down on my neck. I started gaining love, friends, someone to be with me through the longest of nights. As I let go of my legs and let them fall to the sand, I felt peace.
Only a few more moments, and I would realize I was never alone.
All this time I thought I was watching a sunset, I was watching a sunrise.
You said you’d work on things.
That’s what you never understood. I didn’t need you to work on things, I just needed you to love me.