There’s a picture of me in my wet jeans at the Gillian Welch concert at the Folly. It’s in my Instagram feed. I remember holding your hand and listening to her sing, feeling like I wanted to climb inside you, inside that moment, forever. You didn’t care that I spilled my wine all over myself. And because I was with you, I didn’t care, either.
I still have the ticket. I hold it in my hand and a sob catches in my throat. That night is gone, you are gone, and I don’t know what the fuck just happened.
“Guys like me are a dime a dozen,” you said one night in your kitchen. I laughed and told you not to talk about yourself that way. I’ve seen enough men in Single Land these last five years to know what’s out there.
I miss your face. I miss the way you held mine in your hands. I miss the way we fit together. I even miss the huge piles of your dirty clothes on the floor. I wish I could go back and be nicer to Willow. I’m not a cat person, but she was yours, and that should’ve been enough.
You were my last first date. That’s what I told you, and I meant it. I can’t imagine going on another date ever, the thought of it makes me cringe. I’d rather be alone than to put myself out there again, make myself vulnerable. You already know me. But you left me. And I left you. We left each other. Right? Because now my memory tells me otherwise and I can’t be sure.
I look back over the cards you gave me that say things that now I can’t imagine were ever true. I feel like I made you up inside my head. I found a tall, handsome man who reeled me in on a hot August night at The Rieger and I’ve not been the same since.
It’s hard for me to think about those times. Because the gentleman who wined and dined me at The Rieger was the same one who got drunk at The Legion and puked in the parking lot. The thoughtful boyfriend who sent me a beautiful bouquet on my birthday was the same man who, near the end, stopped seeing me; I became invisible. I felt like you were somewhere else. And maybe it was that I’d invited myself there too much, too much too soon, and too frequently. The narrative in my head now is that I brainwashed you into loving me, that it was horribly one-sided, stale, and that I somehow forced your hand. I forced you to kiss me on our first date. I forced you into bed several weeks later. I forced myself over to your house on weekends when I didn’t have the kids.
I brought you chicken soup when you were sick. I did your laundry. I loaded and unloaded your dishwasher. Hell, I even mowed several acres of your property for the last time before winter set in. I shopped for groceries, I cooked for you, I took care of Prim. I got her a cute pink collar with her name and your phone number engraved on it because she loves being outside but doesn’t have an electric fence. I found your “lost” bills in the back of your truck. I threw out week-old leftovers I knew you wouldn’t touch even as I packed things away in tupperware.
I can’t get you out of my head. I miss you so much. But then I remind myself that at the end, you were not really there. I was frustrated and isolated even when we were together. I felt lonely sitting in the same room with you. You said it was anxiety. You said that my anxiety and yours did not get along well. Maybe that’s the best explanation. Or were you just being nice? Did you want out sooner but you were too nice to tell me to go?
I remember your hands all over me. Your touch was so gentle, tender; it was like every single move was premeditated, carefully executed. We could spend hours just kissing and it was never enough. I hated coming up for air.
I imagine what would happen if I showed up at your door, ugly crying, sweaty and red-faced. Would you tell me to go? Would you hug me? Or would there be someone else with you? I saw you on Bumble (of course I had to log on to see if you came across my screen, and you did), and I’m sure you’re going on dates. Are you dating women who live in Smithville? Do you tell them to meet you at The Rieger? Or the Legion?
You are not the only one to blame, but when you get anxious, you don’t talk, you just shut down. And I don’t know how to deal with that. I can’t be in a relationship by myself.
I want to be in your arms. I want you to scratch my back. I want to fall asleep in your bed with Prim tucked in between us. I want to listen to Ray Lamontagne and Gillian Welch and talk for hours. About nothing. About everything.
Fuck you. Where the fuck did you go? What we had…I was so sure of it, of us. Weren’t you? At least up until near the end?
When we broke up around Thanksgiving…and I fell apart and texted you the night before, you were at The Legion. I asked you what you were doing. You said, “Trying to forget you.” Have you already forgotten me? Because I will never forget you.