you never really know how it’s going to end. but when it does, you can’t really say you never saw it coming. they tell you the amount of love you’re willing to let in is equivalent to the amount of pain you think you can survive. there is some sacred and fundamental truth to that.
but they never told you how much it was going to fucking hurt. it starts off as an innocent note that rings out the moment you suspect you see the end of the path. narrowing your eyes to sharpen your focus to see if it’s really there, you continue to walk towards the area where the vanishing point crystallizes into a more tangible reality. it continues to build into a slow crescendo whose climax you simultaneously don’t want to come but also want to Get Over With at the same time.
regardless, once you catch eye of it, it starts to grow on you. seeps into your subconscious, populates your perception, bleeds into everything you do. infects the other person like a contagion. both people start to be so focused on protecting themselves from the possibility of heartbreak, that this avoidance eventually becomes the reason for the outcome. a bootstrap paradox lost in the clutches of time, and of intention.
the last i experienced this, we were driving back to our place after having dinner with my parents. the gravel underneath the van carrying micro-vibrations rum-rumbling through the car seat as we turned into the garage. radio humming a short distance away: close enough to perceive as background noise, far enough as to not distract. in the time between slowing to a stop and parking, he mentions that an old lover that he still had feelings for had texted him. seatbelt unbuckled, we stay in the unmoving car that still feels like a safety hazard. we speak with eyes straight ahead, peeled onto the stillness of the road. i look at him. he doesn’t look back. a giant balloon swells in my chest that is filled with a gas heavier than air. it is hollow but dense and sinks to my stomach like a slow-moving stone.
he dismisses it furtively, i’m just processing, i’m sure it’s nothing, he says. but i could hear it. a sad chord in F minor commencing the beginning of a melody. if you paid enough attention, you could hear his voice fracture but not break. you could see thoughts taking up real estate in his mind, laying the foundation to build skyscrapers into the clouds. you could sense the spaces between moments elongate, testing the threads that seal the seams shut. some things you just feel in your bones. uncertainty weighs like pregnant gravity demanding directionality.
that night, i stared with empty eyes at the hand that wrapped around my shoulders, and measured the distance between his fingertips and knuckles. i traced and appreciated the grooves in his wrist and counted the small freckles on his arm, forming imaginary constellations on his skin. i savored the night as if it were some historical artifact that was going to disappear at any moment, but until the blue morning crept into the windows, it would still be mine. it was as if i had come back from a future where the concept of “us” no longer existed, and swept back down to the present of the current moment. a bizarre feeling of nostalgia of a memory that was being created before my very eyes.
is it possible to miss experiences that you’ve never had?
is it possible to have memories of a future that is yet to come?
perhaps it is. in some ways, we already confirm this phenomena with projecting pasts that have never existed. i think is both beautiful and tragic that memory fractures every time upon recall. the arrow of pseudo-time not only extends out from both directions, but also ends up looping around back and connecting the ends to each other in some other dimension. the circularity and recursiveness bring you back to places lost “in-between”, belonging nowhere but everywhere at the same time. it’s like a craving that overtakes you to eat something that you’ve never even tasted in the first place. a contradiction that speaks for itself.
in the same way that love does.
love is like watching over a person sleep on your thighs after an insomniac night, giving them something you don’t yet have, but still do out of the desire for them to be full. it is the wish for them to be happy, to be free, unfettered, unrestrained – with or without you. and even though you know it’s likely the latter, you want to give them all of yourself anyway. filling them until there is nothing left of you, but in a backward and profound way, filling yourself as well. in this regard, the negative space is as important as the positive.
and just sometimes, it means having the freedom of loving them so much to let them go.
the next and final time i saw you was 15 days after we ended things. your unfaltering gaze pierced me, and without words you transmitted this frequency: static that filled the radio silence between us, a different state of familiarity evolved from time and from context.
you held my hand while we sat in the back of the car to my new home, and there you left me. kissed my forehead goodbye with my 3 and a half suitcases: my life I never got to unpack with you. and in a manic episode, i stayed up past 5am that night, listening to old songs from our albums, both desperately searching for reminders of a past recently released but also finding comfort in throwing it out: the clutter of emblems from a previous life and identity, now so far away. letters from you, letters to you, my now ex and my ex-self.
and finally when enough time had passed and stretched out to make room for light to color the sky, my mind finally slowed. the sadness dissipated and slipped into tiredness, and the lens of my reality softened and nudged to rotate into orbit around a dream daze.
only then did density start to build behind my eyelids. and slowly (slowly)… i let myself drift into the arms of haze and nostalgia. even now, i still sometimes hear whispers of you comforting me in my sleep.