Chapter 23: Forever And Ever

Heartbreak, they tell you, goes away eventually.

“Time is what you need,” a friend will say. “Time and maybe more exercise, get out of your head and into your body. And stay away from the internet.”

So you trudge on, dutifully, like someone who has wildly overpacked for a trip. You drag your stone heart and a steamer trunk full of memories good and bad. Bulky bags too, packed with hurt and anger and confusion and bitterness. Nothing has wheels, everything is unwieldy, all of it you want to leave at some rest stop, in a friend’s living room or at the bar down the street. But you can’t figure out how to let any of it go.

Onward you go until that fateful moment when, indeed, you find you’ve gone minutes, hours, days, weeks without thinking of it at all. When you do, you tell an old friend a well-worn anecdote about what happened. You hear yourself as if from across the room. It sounds like someone else’s story. You wonder whether it was ever you at all.

It was you, but maybe also not you.

Heartbreak heals. Sometimes it heals poorly, with angry, visible scars, none of the pieces properly aligned but too late to do anything about it now. Sometimes it heals most of the way, like a hole that closes up but waits occasionally for you to catch your finger in it and rip it back open from time to time. Sometimes it disappears entirely, and you wonder what all the fuss was.

But what about heartache? That, I fear, is a permanent condition.

One day I tell someone I am good, but a little heartache-y. Not heartbroken, but suffused with a longing that makes my heart feel as if it is on a journey of its own in the expanse of my ribcage. Then again, I say, I am always a little heartache-y.

“You were made that way,” he replies. “You think heartache is home. But they are not the same thing.”

I get quiet and think about this. What if he’s right?

He is, but maybe also he isn’t.

If home is where the heart is, where is your heart when home is at once everywhere and yet not entirely anywhere? Can you forgive one place for not being the other? Love one person for exactly who he is and not who you wish he could be? Accept your very human restlessness?

Heartache as home is a way of loving and longing at the same time. There is room enough in your heart for both, you know.