I Miss You And Goodbye
I went an entire weekend without checking your Instagram, and that felt monumental enough for me to tweet about it. The tweet got a lot of likes, and immediately after posting it I picked up my phone and typed your username into the search bar. I scrolled through and felt relief and pain; a memorized longing. I used to be in those pictures. I used to know those people. I didn’t use to be an intruder, snooping around quickly and hoping I wouldn’t get caught.
I saw you running on the Williamsburg Bridge. I tried to wave, but I was holding my keys in my hand, so essentially I just presented you with a handful of metal and portable discount cards. The sight of me made you miserable. You used to smile when I came home to our windowless apartment in Brooklyn. Somehow your favorite part of the day was dealing with me.
We tried to run together once, when we were visiting my family friends in New Jersey. We made it two blocks, and decided to go our separate ways. You felt so bad for leaving your dirty socks on the stairs. I had never enjoyed a trip to New Jersey until I brought you with me.
He called me “sweet girl,” and I recoiled when hearing it come from someone else’s lips. You were the sweet one. I was cold, and sometimes mean. I shut people out and turn off the lights. You always waited outside, patiently. You showed me how to open the door and let someone else into the darkness. Sometimes you even turned on the light. I don’t trust anyone, certainly not myself, but I trust you. I don’t know if that matters, but it seems like it should.
My mom pointed out how when we were together there was always laughter. I miss making you laugh, the way you tilt back your head and crinkle your eyes shut. You did that the night we met, when I fell up the stairs. I laughed about it with my friends when I told them the story the next day. I couldn’t stop talking about you. I made jokes about my ploy of tricking you into dating me. I was used to daydreams sharpening the blow of reality, so I stood ready to take a punch from you. It never came. You told me you loved me, after I told you first. I told you you were my best friend, and you said the same. A few minutes went by and you had to make a confession. Your childhood friend was your best friend, not me. You couldn’t lie, you couldn’t harm. What were you doing with me?
Every street corner in New York is a memory, an entrance to a world we created for only us to exist in. Now I can only look in from the outside. I got off the bus from Boston and looked across the street to where you met me in the middle of the night so I wouldn’t have to take the train home alone. I turned the corner and descended underground, where I leaned against a dirty pole and watched the rats crawl along in the filth. I miss leaning all of my weight onto your shoulder, and feeling you kiss the top of my head; an intimate moment on a train full of strangers. I miss the way our hands would find each other and intertwine, without me realizing it until I had to sneeze.
I’ve learned how to miss people before, but now I’m afraid of learning how to forget. If I let go of the pain am I letting go of you? You’re trailing behind and fading into the background, and part of me wants to run after you and beg you to stay. Forever is dumb, and I hate that we’re told it’s what constitutes validity and significance, because I don’t think that’s true. But the part of my brain that has been fed the idea that ending is the same as deleting panics at the thought of not crying over you anymore. If someone else makes me laugh, it does not erase the times we laid in bed and shared parts of ourselves we didn’t know could be accepted and loved. No human can ever replace another. I still worry. I promise to never replace you. A silly promise to take credit for, since it’s impossible to break. In all honestly, this is all based on my fear of you replacing me.
You posted a picture of a girl, and I found her profile and scrolled through her entire feed. She doesn’t seem very funny, but she is very thin; much thinner than me. What the fuck am I doing?
Desires conflicted and I got what I wanted but lost what I love. Everything about you is comfortable, and it took me a while to realize the covers were suffocating me. I stayed out late, even though I told you I’d be home soon. My phone died and I went to another bar. I came home and you were waiting for me with a six pack of my favorite beer. You smiled and kissed me and told me it was okay that I had acted like a monster. I thought of all the times I had rolled my eyes and made passive aggressive comments when you made small mistakes. I was allowed to complain, and you weren’t always perfect, but a relationship that had brought out the best in me was starting to bring out the worst. I’d rather miss you than resent you.
I stood outside your apartment with your sweatshirts in my backpack, and opened your door with my key for the last time. My hands were shaking. It was so good to see you, and I was glad you asked me to stay. We made each other laugh again as we sat on the couch with an obvious space between us. The comfort I felt with you was still there, lingering in the distance. I knew if I reached out and tried to grasp it, it would disintegrate. Eventually laughter led to tears. “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.” I’m so sorry. You said, “I love you, lady,” just like you always had, but this time it hurt. You grabbed the back of my head as we hugged, and I didn’t want you to let go, so I pulled myself away walked out the door.
I went to the kitchen to take shots by myself because talking to people is hard and being home is even harder. You walked by and I invited you to join me. I don’t remember exactly what we said, but I remember laughing right away. We went back and forth with ease, and I liked being around you. Suddenly I was glad I had come to this party I had been dreading all day. A group of us went to the beach and you and I talked exclusively to each other. We were the only ones who followed through with skinny dipping, and when we got out of the water we looked at each other for a moment of comfortable silence before you kissed me. The whole scene was corny and adorable and drunk. It was the story I would never admit to have craved. I thought about it for months after. I still think about it every time I hear a love song, or when I’m riding the train to work, or trying to concentrate on what this person I’m having a conversation with is saying. I love our memories, and I hope that never changes.
Love and heartache are real. I wasn’t sure of either of these things until you showed me. I’m glad you did. I miss you and goodbye.
Follow Irene on twitter @_irenemerrow for more about how sad she is.