i started writing this in june
i haven’t had the stomach/nerve/heart/insert-metaphorical-body-part-here to come near it since then. but it’s been tugging vaguely at me, the need to articulate emotions growing steadily more persistent, & i think it’s best to just get it out of my system. (i sometimes fear this story will never truly be out of my system, but that’s a thought process for another day.) here goes.
the first man — the first boy, really, he was only a boy then — the first boy i ever loved has just announced to the world that he is marrying someone else.
this is the sort of life event one feels obligated to react to, & yet my first & almost instantaneous response was utter, intractable numbness. i became a statue of myself. birds could have landed on my head & i wouldn’t have noticed. i am a notorious, unrepentant weeper, but i could hardly remember what the sensation of crying felt like, let alone conjure any cathartic tears of my own.
emotional creature that i am, this stony serenity did not last long. seemingly on the next intake of breath, i reached for the nearest piece of paper & wrote — “i am irrationally, unjustifiably angry. i feel ferocious & hot & wild, & also, suddenly, so terribly tired. the bones in my fingers ache, like i’ve been punching at walls in my dreams.”
i crumpled the piece of paper into a tiny ball, smoothed it out, smashed it down again. i called my best friend. i walked anxiously around in an ungainly imitation of nervous pacing, feeling dazed & awkward & too big for my skin.
it’s not as if the news was a surprise, or a betrayal. it’s not as if it even has anything to do with me, not anymore. it hasn’t for a very long time. but still — it felt like a blow, harsh & heavy & aimed directly at my chest. it sent me reeling. reeling & remembering.
we first fumbled towards each other’s blushing cheeks nine years ago, nearly to the day. early summer. young & giddy & so gorgeously naive. it’s astonishing to me how clear the memories remain, even now. they are not rose-tinted & blurry but bitterly, brilliantly defined, like i am watching a playback loop of my own adolescent love story. nostalgia in the form of an ice pick to the heart.
a steady diet of doctor who/philip pullman’s his dark materials trilogy/bill bryson’s a short history of nearly everything has filled my head with rambling thoughts of alternate universes, other existences, parallel worlds. maybe in some parallel world we are still in love. maybe in some parallel world i can still reach out & grasp his hand in mine.
maybe in some parallel world i never let go of his hand at all.