The year that you had to leave, I tried to ignore the emptiness that followed. I kept walking, but I was lifeless and numb for months. I tried to do anything to make myself feel something else, something good. Nothing came to me. I thought about leaving all of the time — to search or reset, to get away from this version of myself that I didn’t love. To get away from it all. But I was still so deep in loathing and numbness that I never did anything. I kept half empty bottles in my closet and when I wasn’t busy emptying them, I was drowning myself in black coffee and pushing my own bitterness around. I bathed in the toxicity, pushing everyone that I cared deeply about away.

I welcomed the rain and overcast weather whenever it made its way here because it gave me an excuse to be like this. To sink into it further.

I visited the lake countless times — the one we spent our early days at. The one we went to on our first week of being with each other. The one where you cried on my shoulder about his death. The one where you looked at me with eyes I can’t ever get over, and you asked me to run away with you to San Diego. To leave this place with you and go with you anywhere.

You were gone and I couldn’t stop visiting the lake. It was like the lake was pulling me to stay there. To stay there with you. I saw that lake through so many different parts of the day. I saw the sun hit everything in so many ways. It didn’t matter what time it was — before work, lunch breaks, after work, sunset, midnight, all of the different parts of the day. I would go to sit and think and try to get over it.

I knew the only way to start letting it go, to let it hurt less, was to just sit through it and let it pass. Let myself feel it and give myself time to do so. But I couldn’t. I had numbed myself. I still felt something, but it wasn’t everything. And I was stuck there. My knee-jerk defense mechanisms were working against me — not letting me get over you. The numbing was slowing down the recovery process.

I spent too much time there.

I started going to concerts more than ever to try to drown myself in someone else’s emotion. To drown myself in the overwhelming sound, hoping that it would pacify me. Eardrum therapy. I saw Waxahatchee twice. I walked into Hop Along at the height of the song that made me think of you. You were my stranger in India. My love is average; I obey an average law.

And I wrote to and for myself, compulsively, all year long.

It took me nearly the entire year to return to some regular form of myself, to mend things from within and change my behavior. I made progress, but I’m not sure I had gotten out of it completely.

When you came back, I fell with you again. Harder than before, even though I thought I might have a chance at not letting that happen. We were happy again — happier than before — and growing closer despite a tendency toward caution and self protection on both sides. We knew each other so well.

If there’s something that’s constant about us, it’s that we’re predictably unpredictable. I know that things will always shift wildly between us. Still, I’m constantly surprised by us.

We’ve seen a lot of places together now. You say you understand me better than anyone else does. I want to be able to say that for you too.

We are a hurricane. I told you that it was terrifying to cut myself open like this. I know you assured me that it was okay. You held me and told me that I could feel safe with you. That it was okay to feel all of this, and that showing it to you wasn’t pushing you away. That you weren’t going anywhere. And then you looked at me with that same unexplainable gaze that you fed me at the lake that first week when you asked me to run away with you. There’s nothing like loving you.

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