by f


Every time I think I know the feeling, I don’t.

The first time my life tore open — really open — was the day my grandfather died. It was in 1996. I’m not sure what happened, except I saw how I cried in the mirror before I even felt it.

The second time it happened it was when I saw the bloody lump of a girl named Christina, strewn outside a rusty Indian gate, bitten half to death by stray dogs.

The third time it happened was on the 22nd of February, 2006. Someday I’ll talk about what happened then, but I can’t now.

And this is just the fourth time.

Each time I feel the same pressure to my gut. The feeling is unshakable. I can’t swallow past it. It’s a crippling sensation and each time I try to release some steam, it gets worse.

But there’s no release for what I’m feeling now.

Tomorrow, W will be on his way to Ithaca. Today, I ended a ten day stay at his apartment. The last I saw of his place was a blur. A pile of garbage, undifferentiated because of my blindness. (I cannot see anything without my glasses.) I packed with the skill of a silverback gorilla and with the agility of an angry crab. After that, we were out. Grilled croissants in hand.

Instead of spending the day in the city, we decided to go to my old college town, which is a forty five minute train ride away. At first we thought we could work in the library, or work out of the only campus restaurant that was open on Sundays.

The journey back to the campus felt like an acid trip. When I got there, I had to screw my eyes shut against the onslaught of happy memories, made sad only by time and by the fact that those remain my happiest memories.

Today just felt like waiting. We could not work. We went from the restaurant to the library and then walked around campus in the drizzle. Eventually we made our way back to a coffee shop where we sat and watched the Main Street. Time became immaterial. Far away from the city, everything was slow here. Fewer people walked past our windows. There were empty chairs here. We filled the room our restlessness. We gave up on making conversation.

He kept asking me to come with him and I kept saying no.

Leaving to go with him would tear my own family apart. For them, it would be a Divorceable Issue. I can’t leave W — and I plan on marrying him — but I can’t do it yet. I have to be financially solvent first, and I’m not. I’m not there. I have to be my own person first.

So that’s how it ended.

When the time came to go I felt the shadow punch to my stomach. The moment before I crossed the threshold with my heavy suitcase I turned back to watch him. It was heartbreakingly familiar. When we were in college, he used to accompany me to the  station and watch as my train went homeward. I wish were three years ago. Because that would mean that I would be back.

Now he will go on with his own life. He will take his sister with him. She will see his new apartment before I do. I might never see it at all. He will go and carve out his own life now, and I’m left behind. Just thinking. And thinking. And thinking.

I’m told it will get better, but I’m not sure. I can never talk about it. I can never show it. I am thanking a God I’ve renounced that my parents haven’t come home yet. My neighbors, with whom I’m staying tonight, won’t notice me too much if I keep on a brave face.

Today, I go to my empty house.

3 Comments to “Shock”

  1. In a way, this is good because it shows how much you both love each other and how much you both mean to each other. And it shows that you’re both still your own people enough to sacrifice time together in order to be stable, independent people before you get married. I think that it says a lot about your relationship that you’re able to do these things and yet stay so close and mean so much to each other. However, that doesn’t make the hard times feel any better at the time, does it? Time will help, because all things change with time. College and personal circumstance among those things that change. And you will see him again, even if it seems eons away right now. I am sorry that you’re hurting right now, though. I don’t like my friends to hurt, but its also a healthy thing. Without the “bad” times how will we ever gain perspective about ourselves, other people, and the world? How will we grow? How will we appreciate the good times? But, again, its not easy to think about things like that when you’re in the middle of a bad time.

    I know what you mean about good memories becoming sour just because they’re good memories that are in the past and you either can never make more good memories with that person or those people again, or because it seems like it will be centuries before you’ll be able to again. I’ve certainly felt that. I think everyone does, at some point. For some people it’s worse than for others, though. And, I know that just because I’ve felt it, too, doesn’t mean that I know exactly what you’re feeling. You’re experiences and feelings are unique to you in relation to yourself, to W, and to your relationship together. But, I’m sure that things WILL get better with time, even if it doesn’t seem so right now. You are a very strong person, no matter what you think, and you will weather this storm and come out just fine, and perhaps even better, for it. I know it. 🙂

  2. You did what you had to do. A sassy advice columnist once said that what’s meant to be will be, and if he comes back around, then he comes back around. If not, you’re free for the life you were meant to have, and possibly… someone who’s secretly going “YES!” right this very moment. Or who would be, once they meet you.

    One area of your article that struck me was how your return to your old campus made you sad, because your “happiest memories” were formed there. Hey, you’re young! You have a life ahead of you, and every age group holds something new and different in it. Please let them be different, because you can’t move forward if you are always looking back (I’m a history major, I should know ;)!)

    Instead of comparing and thinking, get out… get to doing. I don’t want to sound preachy (even though I probably am), but I’ve been there. The longer you sit with your thoughts, the longer they have to creep in on you… and in the end, you are stuck in a devilish cycle. Volunteer, start a new hobby, write a novel… you’re obviously intelligent and empowered, don’t let this strange and confusing situation make the best of you.

    And hey, if you want to start any new hobbies, you can always IM me. I’m an arts-and-crafts kind of girl.

    • It’s good to know that you empathize and understand what I’m feeling. That’s why I’m in love with Subterfuge as a project — it promotes the emotional well-being of women in a safe community.

      I love what you had to say about history. It’s very true — those who look back find it difficult to look forward. And it /is/ difficult. I’m trying, though, and I find that while I do need all the help I can get, it gets easier the more I try. So I won’t stop trying.

      And I’ll definitely ask you about new hobbies. (I /am/ writing a novel now, though, so I have that covered… I think. 😛 Thanks, Roxy!)

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