My old routine has grown tiresome. Drinks lose their edge. The cold days turn to hot, and should be turning cold again soon enough. The shows keep playing on TV, the same clients keep showing up. I get the same ache in my chest every time a certain song comes on the radio, and I can’t look at the night sky without remembering an entire future I lost in the blink of an eye.
I still get pangs from it all sometimes. The shock waves roll over me to this day. I’ve switched my cocktail of choice so many times now, but nothing dulls the intensity. I’ve read a dozen books, memorized countless new albums, driven every back canyon, looked out over the ocean during every changing season. And there you sit, right under my ribs, taunting me. Making me believe everything is going to be OK, then turning around and walking out. Shrugging me off like an old sweater. Mocking me with your post-happiness, with your new friends, your new car, your new interests. Your new life. Yours rolled right on without me. I was nothing more than a road bump. Whereas mine stopped.
It seized up and died. I haven’t moved an inch since that night. Not an inch. My chest tightens up and my eyes blur and I don’t see any way out of my cage. I tried to leave, I tried to forget, I tried to find something new. But nothing came. Nothing stuck. Nothing stayed. Not the way you did. Not the way you continue to.
This isn’t all the time. I’m not the way I used to be, right at the beginning. I don’t go to work, go home and get drunk, like the old days. Like the first few weeks. I go out, I have a few drinks. I laugh, I enjoy myself. But then something begins stirring. Deep down, like some evil, vile fish gliding through murky water. I can’t quite make out what it is, especially in a drunken haze, but I know it’s down there. I can feel it stirring, see the ripples. My senses go on edge, but I try to shrug it off. I try to think it will all be OK, if I just push it away. But I sink lower. The circling comes closer and closer, until it’s all too late. The wrong song comes on, or a smell floats through the air. Someone’s laugh sounds like yours, or someone mentions something you like. I am reminded of an inside joke. And I’m lost.
The fish has leapt up, careening through the air, and latched into my arm or my leg with his awful teeth. All the feelings, all the loss, all the rejection are front and center once again. The beast and it’s nasty virus seep into my head, into my heart. Deep into the deepest pits of me I sink, lower and lower, until once again, I am lost. I am gone.
I know you will continue to be there. It’s not that I’ve given up trying to rid myself of you per se (not that I’ve ever really wanted to), but it’s that I’ve resigned myself to the fact that no matter how I try or what I do, you remain. In all my best times, when I feel limitless and powerful, the largest person in the room, I know there will be a space. In the worst, when all is black, and I feel nothing but cold, I will long for a fire that hasn’t warmed me in years. But I will want it all the same, just as I always have. When I find new beginnings, and conclude winding ends, there will be a gaping hole where you could be, going along with me.
I will look back to the love I had and lost, the life I thought I promised that was ripped away, and the dreams that died, for a lifetime. I don’t know why the world would show me such happiness then gently take it from me. Give me all I’d ever hoped to have then letting it burn me as it went. I do not understand why things ended the way they did, and I don’t think that I ever really will. But I will always look back, always wonder. Always dream of the days you were mine, the days before you left me.
If I am living, you will be there.