Spring loaded. I push away from anything that might hurt me eventually. Wrap up in myself and say it’s for the best. Try instead to salvage open wounds disguised as relationships. Tell myself I am not deserving of the goodness of being safe and loved.
But sometimes I learn to grow instead.
So I drive back to Andrew’s house and tell him about who I am. How I get scared and run away instead of facing it. How I always pick the biggest shift available instead of working on the small things. How I seem to always choose wrong when it’s flight, fight, or freeze. He follows up with me.
Surprised, I listen to him describe the kind of person I am. He unearths the flaws in my system with delicate precision, but lacking accusation. Does not leave me with instruction on how I can be different. Not even the hint that I should be. Instead, his voice is doused with a tenderness that says he understands it, it’s okay, he loves me.
“Everyone gets scared sometimes,” he says as he curls his fingers up in mine. I plant my trembling feet next to him and together we continue putting down roots. Interwoven.
My mood goes in and out like the tide. Eroding me even when things are good. Emotions in general exhaust me and I try to spend more and more time avoiding being alone. Don’t feel it. Whatever it is. Don’t.
In the middle of the night I put out a plea on Facebook for someone to take a walk with me. A friend I don’t know well takes me up on it and we trudge around The Hill and talk about nothing of consequence. Life is simple, beautiful, goes on.
Days later we get back the light. The perfectly cloud-dispersed echo of sunshine. It shone off V’s face, danced in his eyes as Andrew drove us south. Hands out the windows the three of us took deep breaths at the sight of our mountain. A reminder that life is simple, beautiful, goes on.
Back at their apartment V leans over the stove. Stirring and inhaling deep. I like to watch him cook. It feels like a metaphor for what we are all doing here. Making something new. And we all sit down at the table and eat the dinner we prepared together. We’re building something. Learning to trust it.
Andrew asks me if I have a blog post geared up for Tuesday and I shake my head. V tells me he doesn’t know how much it matters what he thinks, but that my writing is “really good”. It’s just the kind of nudging I need to not give up on me. So I sit down and write this while Andrew draws and V finds music to play us.
So I think maybe life goes on. Maybe we keep building even when we think we’re not trying. Even when we don’t think we can. Life comes at you. On the express lane when the light is perfect and the windows are down. Hands at two and ten. Our lives in Andrew’s possesion without even considering it.
I tell Andrew hearts always break in the same places. The weak points are sought out and shattered over and over again. We do not grow back stronger. It is the same hurt every time.
We know these feelings. We recognize them. We remember just how to scream into pillows and sob on staircases. We’ve been here often. We’ll return before we’re ready.
At dinner Mark stops me when I say, “I think I’ll be fine.” He holds steady until I meet his eyes.
“No. There is no ‘think’,” he says gruffly, “I know you’ll be fine. Better than fine. I know it.”
I feel almost guilty for believing him. For acknowledging the fact this is just another one of those moments we go through, that go through us. That we always walk away from. Every time.
Over and over I repeat the story. Each time becoming further removed from it. Until it’s nothing but a monologue I recite when prompted. Something I can put down and walk away from. Like the dress I threw in the trash because I was wearing it when Mason told me he wanted a divorce. Pretending I could separate myself from the statement by separating myself from the clothing.
No, it may not be that easy, but it is similar, isn’t it? We hand the words off to anyone who will listen, keeping only a tiny piece of them in a coat pocket to be discovered next season. And bit by bit time softens the edges of everything. Staircases worn down after thousands of years of footsteps. We do not remember what they looked like when they were new. That is not what makes them precious.