Elastic Heart

It was August, and I had a crown of feathers in my hair. You snapped a photo of me looking at you, my face scrunched up in a full grin as I squinted away from the sunlight. We were happy — happier than we’d ever been, I think.

Fast-forward. It’s not even a year later, and I’ve got a sinking sensation in my gut. There’s an invisible anchor weighing me down, and I only manage to catch the first few words out of your mouth before the rest become white noise in my ears.

There are sentiments uttered, but my limbs are heavy and moving apart from my control. Once I manage to stop crying in those first few hours I can feel my emotions retreating, coiling into a tiny ball of confusion, hurt, shock and settling itself firmly deep within my heart, ready to rocket to the surface at any moment.

If there’s one thing you helped me to learn about myself, it’s that I shouldn’t ignore my instincts. I should have spoken up earlier when I noticed the distance growing, but I’d convinced myself I was just imagining things. I must have been letting my paranoia get the better of me, must have been allowing my track record of failed relationships to slither in and taint something good. I don’t know why I was questioning my own feelings, but now I believe a part of me was trying to rationalize the sinking suspicion that something was changing. I didn’t want to be convinced that feelings could be had and lost over time like that, not with us.

I used to pride myself on being a girl who never cried. I guess I thought that not crying was just an extension of being strong. I’ve been learning that there’s nothing wrong with letting the tears flow freely.

I cry openly, in public and at the drop of a hat. I cry in tiny bursts of shuddering that barely conjure up any sound at all and I cry big, heavy sobs into my pillow late at night. I cry on the subway when I listen to Tegan and Sara and the words of their refrain summon something I never realized about myself until now: This love is all I have to give.

You told me that I give so much of myself, and it’s true. When it comes to the people I care about I’m invested wholeheartedly. I jump in with both feet. I dive in headfirst. I come up with lame swimming metaphors. I write about what I know and what I know is you and me. What I know are inside jokes that I will never be able to share with anyone else in the same way. What I know is that there are memories I have in the places we used to go that I will always carry with me. What I know is that when I was having doubts about pursuing the dreams I possessed, you were there to support me from the beginning. What I know is that you showed up to things you didn’t even necessarily care about, but you did it because you knew I cared. And what I know is that I could never hate you, even if you might be waiting for that shoe to drop.

But I also need time, time to focus on me. I need enough time to pass where the tears are fewer and further in-between and the smiles come a little more easily. I need time to do everything I swore I said I’d do over and again, all those small goals I’d set for myself but never got around to. I’m writing this all down because the lump in my throat is smaller and smaller in some moments, but then I find myself fighting to breathe when I turn the corner.

Eventually, I know when I see you again it will hurt less. Our paths will cross because this city is not as big as everyone likes to think it is. Maybe we’ll spot each other on a subway platform, both waiting for the churning roar to cut through the semi-quiet of the evening. Maybe we’ll pass by one another on the street. Maybe I’ll be smiling, squinting, struggling to see in the bright sunlight.

I’m not there yet. I don’t know how long it’ll take for me to get to that place. Right now, I’m falling back on my girls Tegan and Sara for what I need to do next — because what I want most is to get myself all figured out.

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