6 Letters to My Polyamorous Ex
These are the six letters I should’ve written the moment you left me. I’m not sure when that was exactly. I know you left me when we were together and that we had separated during the course of our chaotic relationship, a long time before it had reached its horrid demise.
I sincerely hope these words never get to you.
Who are you? Where do you come from? How did you get that scar on your left index finger? The moles on your shoulders become perfectly aligned whenever you cross your arms. Has anyone ever noticed that before me? I feel like I’ve earned a golden star for my intricacy.
I can see the weight of snowy mountains, the vastness of crushed ambition, and the burden of unfinished novels lying heavy on the arch of your back. I want to climb there. Can I climb there, please? I promise not to move anything from its original place. I own silent boots that will not disturb any of your sleeping gods on my way up.
Today you said, “I think I’m in love with you,” halfway through a bottle of vodka you chugged on your own. How lucky I am that you are. How lucky I am that you noticed. Why does this come as a surprise to you? I feel flattered yet offended, cursed but oh so lucky, and something about the way you press your hands on my face while your tongue twirls in drunken ecstasy tells me that good things might happen for us, and I would be a fool for not trying.
I am a naïve opportunist; so I strip naked in your living room that morning and I call in late for work. The sun gazes at us in disapproval.
We eat together. We shower together. You abandon your local hairdresser and I start cutting your hair. You tell me I am a much better conversationalist, and that having someone you trust handle your hair is less stressful. I take joy in cleaning out your rough black curls from our sink. We go to the grocery store near your house and buy some candles, they come at eleven dirhams a pack. We buy enough to light up your room and leave the rest to play with. You burn my back that night, slowly and steadily. You claim that being a woman is synonymous to understanding that pain and pleasure are very often the same thing. I cry for you. You carry me onto your bed with a huge grin on your face like I am a prize stuffed with candy. I guess all those nights you spent alone in circuses have finally paid off. You fuck me right. You slur Leonard Cohen’s “I’m Your Man” to me:
If you want a lover, I’ll do anything you ask me to And if you want another kind of love, I’ll wear a mask for you If you want a partner, take my hand Or if you want to strike me down in anger, Here I stand I’m your man
Ah, the moon’s too bright The chain’s too tight
The beast won’t go to sleep I’ve been running through these promises to you That I made and I could not keep But a man never got a woman back, Not by begging on his knees Or I’d crawl to you baby And I’d fall at your feet And I’d howl at your beauty Like a dog in heat And I’d claw at your heart And I’d tear at your sheet I’d say please, please I’m your man
I massage you only to explore every inch of your skin. Every freckle and scar a hidden corner in a foreign city I have never been to before. We wrestle naked. I tickle you because I know you hate it. We laugh. The silence does not threaten us.
Your gods start a ticker tape parade in our bedroom. What a victory. Suddenly cold azure waters seep through your doors and windows, and our bed becomes an island we only leave when utterly necessary.
Somewhere deep inside a voice tells me to latch on to as many photographic memories as possible. My brain feels like it is about to explode into hot goo. Things only feel this good when they’re transient. You and I both know and feel this, but put it in a safe we’ve built to store all sorts of bullshit we never want to talk about.
We eat together. We shower together. We sleep together, but not together. You help me zip on the dresses that are getting too tight on me. I tell you it’s all the fighting, that I am an emotional eater. You stop saying thank you. I get ill and my birth control pills ball me up into a cluster of inexplicable emotions. You start drinking heavily. I huff and puff like a chimney. You tell me you want to see other people. I break one of your favorite wine glasses, the big one you moved with you from Amsterdam, and I scream “Why am I not enough?”
You say it has nothing to do with me, that you have an insatiable hunger for more; that sometimes you feel this world is too small for you. You were a wild spirit. I should have known better than to try domesticating a tiger.
Your sheets suddenly become grey oceans. Our island starts to vanish. I drown in nightmares next to you while you are fast asleep.
Always the same dream, never the same woman.
I blame my mother’s teachings for all of this.
Who am I? What have you done to me? When did I become such a vindictive, envious, insecure little bitch? These days the sunlight seeping through your curtains feels like an intruder. It wants to take something away from me. I won’t let it. The books on your shelf feel heavier than usual. It hurts to get dressed. Trivialities like paper cuts make me break down in tears. People at the office ask me if I have recently lost a loved one. I say I’m not quite sure yet. The walls start closing in on me, and my own skin makes me feel suffocated.
I stop laughing at your jokes. You show a genuine concern. You give me advice and I try to listen. You start going out more. I start sleeping in more. You go to a club and look for the happiest girl there and you take her by the fucking hands and you dance with her until your feet go numb. You kiss her and tell
me about it the next day. I am too consumed in my own sorrow to worry about it. I claim that you have been forgiven. I become so nonchalant, so fragile, so easily threatened and so effortlessly infuriated.
In an attempt to fight off all that I believe in and push away my true self, I ask you to bring strangers into our bed. I start telling your friends at bars that I believe in sharing my loved one with the world. They applaud me for my courage. The real me sighs inwardly. She does not approve of any of this.
Our bedroom becomes home to all those who wander lost in the cruel maze of life. We are so good at loving other people together. But when it comes to loving each other, I think we could use a little more practice. Don’t you agree?
Protagonist. Antagonist. Mentor. Tempter. Sidekick. Skeptic. I have no idea which one you are. I have no idea which one I am. All I know is that this story was doomed to end, and we have run out of paper.
When I left you it came as no surprise for me. I had been rehearsing this moment ever since our eyes locked at that café. I had practiced the lines and recited them in my waking and sleeping dreams, and now my time has come to take on the spotlight.
I rushed into your room in sheer fury. Your clothes lying on the floor, our cardboard pizza boxes on the sides of your bed, the stench of bullshit everywhere. Your room has never looked so disgusting. I open up big black garbage bags like I am ready to dispose of a dead body, and I start shoving all of my belongings in them.
Your bestfriend and confidante waits for me outside your house as I do this. She grew up with you and prompted me to leave before it is too late. She knows that this is the right thing to do.
I leave my drawers open for you to feel my absence when you walk in. Even though we had shared our lives together I am afraid you will not notice that I had left you. I am afraid it will not leave the impact I wanted it to have on you. I think the problem was that I always wanted you to feel losses you were incapable of feeling.
The little burns on my back still bother me on bad days. I see you in alleyways and on bar stools and in movies. I hear you in jukeboxes and between the silences of radio presenters. I see your reflection inside my wine glass. I feel you when I struggle to zip up a tight dress on my own. You are everywhere.
It is disturbing to know that we are still under the same sky and that these feelings are taking much longer to fade than I had initially expected.
But hey, at least I’m writing again. That’s got to count for something.