The Afterglow

of a love departed.

“I would [have done] anything for you.” Oct. 2015, Los Angeles, Calif.

You can burn the photographs. Shred the letters. Torch the mixtapes to the roar of applause from your best friends gathered around the bonfire.

Even the ocean waves that crash behind you seem to fall on a cadence of approval.

But the images and words remain seared into your mind, the scores of a time lost still echo in a dusty corner of your memory.

You can feign indifference.

But at the very core of your being, the monster lies awake, feeding off the filth in your bones.

I’ve read countless stories about heartbreak.

And they’re usually along the lines of: fall, shatter, wallow, die a poetic death, rise from the ashes. (I’ve always envied the Phoenix.)

But there is nothing beautiful about this pain.

The words we construct and the poems we erect may glisten on the surface but underneath, a layer of grime and misunderstanding. The blood spilt over lost love is simply that — blood. No analogies of red wine and the stains it leaves.

As I write this, you are currently en route to my apartment with the last of my belongings. I sit in a state of dread, wallowing in the knowledge that this is the end.

After all this time — nearly half a year since we called it quits, and I still find it hard to stomach. How a person whose soul once homed yours can just dissipate into an empty fog.

It feels so fucking unfair.

I could write some clever quip about it being Valentine’s Day today but I won’t.

In the afterglow of a love departed, there is a stillness.

Stillness in the form of empty bottles and overflowing ashtrays. In the dull thudding of the bass in a nightclub you’ve always hated but fuck it, what have you got to lose at this point?

Stillness in blurry nights and attractive strangers who leave a burning desire on your tongue.

A stillness that simmers silently until finally, it reaches a boiling point, and your cup runneth over. In all the wrong ways.

When love is gone, where does it go?

(Win Butler has always hit the right notes.)

You write and write, holding onto a hope that maybe, somewhere among the keystrokes lies the answer.

You leave snippets sitting in the limbo of your Drafts folder, collecting dust, soaking in the vodka that swelled your insides as you wrote them.

You hop in your car and take off up the California coast — in hopes that the answer will be found in the ebb and flow of the Pacific Ocean, or perhaps, along the familiar streets of San Francisco.

You book a flight to Tokyo on a whim — in hopes that the rapid draining of your wallet might also drain the murky flooding in your heart.

You try — unrelenting — to make sense of something that has plagued the hearts of men since the dawn of the written word.

All to no avail.

Words wither, sobriety comes too soon. The open road is an empty road, and July is one too many moons away to find solace in Japan and the distance put between us.

“…in hopes that the answer will be found in the ebb and flow of the Pacific Ocean, or perhaps, along the familiar streets of San Francisco.”

When love is gone, where does it go?

The question follows me around like a ghost hovering in the deepest crevices of my mind. I’ve tried for months to come up with something profound (or maybe even witty) to say, but I’m afraid I’ve come up empty.

So maybe, I realize, Win Butler had the answer all along.

It’s just an afterlife (with you).