General Ramblings

You Can Have It Back: Tiny Anniversary

One year ago, we sat here in this room, and after two years, we said goodbye.

I think it’s funny, what changes in a year. How things go up and down. How we become completely different people, but are the same at our core. The scar still hurts when I bump against it suddenly, or when something happens to tear it open. But in a year, I’ve changed, and so have you.

I’ll probably never forget the way you held onto my hand on the ride down to the train station. We met there, and we saw each other for the last time there. And you seemed so betrayed, as if you knew that this never could have worked, the same as I knew it, for months before it ended.

I shouldn’t even shed tears over this, not a year later. But sometimes, like I said, that scar hurts a little too much to ignore.

I want you to know these things. I never hated you, not once. I never once hated you for the things that you were and the things that you refused to be. I was sad . . . I’m still sad. I’m sad that I never could convince you to see the good in yourself. I’m sad that you never seemed to want to change, that changing seemed like it’d be so painful, more than living like you did, was. That’s something everyone needs to learn for themselves. I certainly carry the scars of that learning, and I know, so do you.

I still think of you sometimes, though I’ve let you gradually go from all arenas of my life. I still think of your smile, and the way your eyes would shine every time I walked through the door. I still imagine us walking hand in hand down the sun-drenched sidewalks, and the quiet moments in the dead of night, clinging to each other in the darkness, watching the traffic’s lights move over the ceiling. I think of these things, and they don’t hurt that much anymore. In fact, they’re a mixture of beauty, and sadness, and regret, and nostalgia. And I love that feeling because it reminds me of being with you.

I don’t want to know how you are – not really. I don’t think it matters. I wish you well, of course. But I don’t want to see pictures of you, or hear about your life through tweets and Tumblr posts. I don’t want to see you smile . . . not really. It’s not that I don’t want you to smile. I just don’t want to see you smiling without me there to make it happen. And maybe a year is long enough for that feeling to go away, and maybe it’s not. But being honest . . . it’s just better this way. I tried to do this before, but I came back. This time, I’m ready to never see your smile again.

I sometimes wish I could tell you things. Like when I’m frustrated, and you’d listen, your eyes on my face, never leaving until I was done ranting and raving. Even if you had nothing to say, you’d just listen, which is more than many people have time to do for me now. I sometimes wish I could tell you that when I see two women holding hands in the street, it still stabs me in the old place, where it used to for months after you had gone back west.

And yet, I’ve changed in ways that I never could have when we were together. I took what you gave me and I ran with it. I transformed the pain into words, into stories and thoughts, into poetry and song. And I pretended I was fine, pretended until it came true. We talked and fell silent and talked again, and all the words down that telephone line . . . I took them all and I used them, made them into something better. I traced the scars our fights left on me and used the pain to channel into making myself stronger. And I did it. I’m not the same person I was.

You told me that I chose being here over being with you. And sometimes I look at this city and think, who couldn’t choose living here over anything else? But it’s not the same when you’re not in love with everything about a situation. When you’re only in love with the person, and the person fails you in some way, living in a place that isn’t home can be excruciating.

I’m so sorry I failed you. I tried not to.

But I think about the time we went on that bus tour, in the cold September air. And we sat under the tall buildings, and traced the history of the city under the wheels. And didn’t you feel so complete then? Didn’t you feel like there was nothing else in the world? I felt like it would never get better than that. Maybe it never did. And maybe we should have said goodbye then, when you went back the first time. Held those memories in a bittersweet jar, and moved on. Would it have been that hard? I feel in my heart, this is rather harder. But maybe it’s because more time elapsed. More pain, and more memories, and more beauty. It wasn’t as easy the last time to say goodbye. Goodbyes never are.

I still don’t regret it much.

So, I’m writing this last post about us, about that life, because after this I don’t want to write about it anymore. I want the scars to stop aching. I want the city to be mine wholly again, and not a place we shared pain in. I want to be free of the random thoughts, of the sudden longings, and of the stabbing reminders that I get when I walk through this house we shared, and find something of yours that you forgot to take almost a year ago.

There are no more pictures. There are no more shared songs; no more old clothes, or scribbled-upon receipts. And now, there are no more posts, or letters, or reminders. This is the end. On that anniversary – on the only one that ended up mattering in the end – I’m saying goodbye.

You let me have everything. My city. My apartment. The few DVDs I wanted to watch that I never did get around to watching. The hum of the subway under the pavement. The cherry trees in High Park. You let me have my dignity and my health. You let me have my autonomy, my creativity.

I’m letting you have your freedom from my thoughts, and from my heart.

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6 thoughts on “You Can Have It Back: Tiny Anniversary

    1. It’s a good question. I think if you want someone to completely change themselves, then you’re not really in love with who they are. But if you want them to change a behaviour that’s destroying the relationship, you are honouring who they are and focusing on the problematic behaviour. For me, it was the latter. I didn’t want her to change herself. I wanted her to get help for her severe mental illness so that I could find the person I fell in love with again. But you can’t convince someone to change, so. They have to do it themselves – a hard lesson to learn.

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