Today has felt like 3 days. I took the dog to my mom’s place so that realty viewings will go smooth and my house will stay clean. I know I will have to move and make actual decisions soon, but right now I’m in the state of immobile terror that I like to call “up a fucking tree.” I feel anxious and trapped, breathing fast like a cat. I won’t be really scared until I have to come back down.
I will sometimes climb the maple in these moods. Not today. Today a script plays in my mind, and I say it out loud, reinforcing my isolated exhaustion.
All I can do now is write it out in a little short story until the pain stops:
Faded Love and Other Things Willie Nelson was Right About
I am tired. With each passing day, my heart breaks in multifaceted ways that I was not able to previously conceptualize. I try to re-frame by setting little goals. I try to weather the storm. To rebuild pieces of my hopes. I lost today, but I’ll try again tomorrow.
I cook dinner while he sits at the kitchen table. Places are set, food is served. We eat together in a weird limbo where intimacy is torture and it’s forced lack feels like a knife to the esophagus.
His pained eyes meet mine, expecting me to speak. He looks like our niece when she cries. I find a way to put our hurt into words.
“My life is a really intricate jigsaw puzzle that somebody keeps scattering. I don’t have the box to know what the picture is even supposed to look like at the end. And then somebody took a shit on top of it.”
He nods then tries to steer the conversation to something positive.
“I’m sorry for shitting on your broken jigsaw puzzle. Please look at the sunset right now, it’s wild.” I glance west but cannot focus.
“All we have to do is fix this place up and sell it. Then we leave for good and can stop hurting each other forever.” I like to buy into the simplicity of this lie, so I say it often.
We finish eating in silence. We move to separate floors of the house to view the coral-pink sky.
I know we should not call back and forth to each other to say sad things, to look at sunsets, to stare at weird moons. We cannot gaze into the sucking chest wound of failed codependencies any longer. But the words keep coming.
I holler down the stairs:
“It is a good thing to have loved in a way that hurts so fucking badly to lose!”
I don’t know if he feels the same way, or if I should even believe this. I can envision him sitting on the sofa, looking out of the sliding glass doors.
I try to think of something cheerful to say.
“Last night I dreamed I was with my cousins in Lorain. We were riding shopping carts down a hill and the squirrels were dying en masse in the trees, falling in rigid balls, pelting us like hail. I dreamed a poem as part of squirrel armageddon, just words over and over again, unconnected with the action of the dream. Do you want to hear it?”
He says nothing, so I do.
I don’t have a choice. I am a poet. The words come without asking:
“You will just go
and need someone else
you cannot force belonging
by evoking a pained dependency.”
I lean against the window of the spare bedroom and recall a time when this home was a comfort to me. I wish it could be different, that we could be content together.
“I hope to become content with myself when I am by myself. That’s probably the happiest a person can be, don’t you think?”
“Yeah, that’s probably true,” he replies.
I have something more to say but decide against it. I dig my fingernails into the windowsill and weep silently. I sink to my knees and search the sky for something.
Something that has broken within me. Something that was once part of my soul and is now adrift. Something burning bright behind the black silhouette of a poplar tree.
Words flash in my mind like the script on a sign:
I will honor the memory of our faded love for as long as I live.
Waves of silence break against me.
The neon sunset drains her hues among dove-grey clouds.