About The Ex…

I did it. Lending your favorite book to someone in the middle of your breakup is never a good idea. But, I finally did it. Four years later and I ordered a new copy. I’m onto e-books now, but I still purchased the hardcover version I’d owned. It was sort of this symbolic gesture, I thought. Acknowledging and accepting that I’ll never be getting that book back from him. We haven’t been in contact for nearly four years now, and I prefer to redirect my thoughts to something else if he ever crosses them. So, I haven’t really thought about him in quite some time. Then my phone rang the other night and I didn’t pick up…

No, it wasn’t him. It was just some kind of telemarketer, so I enter the password to my voicemail to delete the message, when I suddenly lose service on the train. My voicemail box has been nearly full for about seven years now. If I don’t delete a newly saved message that comes in, I can’t receive any new messages. I didn’t know who some of my saved messages were from anymore, but I knew there were some I didn’t want to hear. They’re messages that I wish I could add to the box at the bottom of my closet that I never open, but also don’t plan on throwing away entirely. If I hang up in the middle of checking my voicemail, the message gets moved to my saved voice messages, and the only way to delete it is to listen to all the saved messages that come before it.

I take a deep breathe. The first message is from a guy named —- But I’ve dated so many men with that name, I’m not even entirely sure who it is. I figure I’ll feel nostalgic over it at a later time and save it again. Then I start to sort through the rest of the messages, deleting some, and re-saving others. Random friends I’ve missed calls from over the years chime in with 2am drunken rambles, birthday wishes, accidental “I love you, bye” messages, and then my ex’s voice comes on. Did you know there’s such a thing as instant nausea? I imagine it’s like getting punched in the stomach, though I’ve never been hit. It’s sort of like when you see the car crash and you know you’re going to see something upsetting, but you just can’t look away. So, I listened. I made observations about our relationship from his tone and what he said in each message, sort of as an outside observer now.

Then I reached the message that must have happened right after our break-up. He was explaining why he wouldn’t be able to use the internet immediately and begged me not to delete the pictures of us on FaceBook because he liked them and wanted to save them before I did. I wasn’t feeling great by the time I got up to my most recent message. I remembered why I didn’t listen to those messages, open that box in my closest containing mementos from our relationship, and had blocked him and everyone he knew on FaceBook, four years ago. But, this time, listening to his messages, I remembered the break-up more than the relationship. There was more exhaustion than love in his voice in these messages. I was feeling like we’d never been right for each other listening to his messages, yet simultaneously it felt incredibly difficult to hear his voice. In my mind I had revisited the circumstances in which we’d broken up. Who tells someone they love them for the first time while dumping them, anyway?…

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Thoughts On The Train

Sitting on the train today, a song came on my headphones that caused an ex to flash through my mind. It was years ago, and just a six-month/long-distance thing. Closure isn’t easy with such distance after things end, but the feelings have since gone, and he’s married now. Though, that song still causes him to flash through my mind. I remembered sending it to him back then and our conversation about how we could both relate to it. It wasn’t even a romantic song. To us, it was about not really knowing what you’re looking for. When we met we were in that same place. You’re not sure if you’re looking for a relationship, but seem to enjoy spending time with a certain person. He’d just gotten out of the only relationship he’d been in for a good portion of his life. I was over my last long-term relationship, but not yet convinced I’d be able develop feelings for someone new. Then there was him. Although, that wound up being somewhat short-lived, I did learn I was no longer numb and again capable of those feelings.

Today that song caused me to think about the feeling of having fallen for someone. The good along with the bad and the stress/over-analyzing. Then I focused on the good. I was thinking about when you’re in love, whatever that means to you, and suddenly all the music you hear makes sense. Every love song has a line describing exactly what you feel. I thought about what it feels like the first time your skin brushes against someone you’re interested in. It’s usually accidental, or it could just be that you’ve started leaning in that much closer as you talk. Sometimes it’s because they’ve made the first move and reached out to your hand, knee, or arm as they spoke. There’s that split second you become extremely aware of their touch, and suddenly you understand the reference of there being a “spark” between the two of you. It is almost like the shock of static electricity as a register of the touch jolts through your mind. I ran my tongue across my lips and brought forward my memories of kissing someone I cared about. I remembered the bubbling feeling of being so anxious and excited about someone new…

I haven’t felt any of those things in a very long time and as much as I’ve been enjoying single-life and despising dating, I started thinking I might miss those feelings. I might still feel numb after my last relationship, but I’m not yet convinced it’s permanent this time. The process of dating just may be a necessary evil that’s eventually conquered.

Where Does Love Go?

I was in a four year relationship at the end of my teens. He was many of my firsts including my first serious relationship. We shared the typical memories couples share at that age. That funny time when… That time he was so sweet when… The time that we almost… Then there was that one time… The ups, the downs. The closeness. Every new experience shared. And the drama after the break-up. And then one day I woke up and decided I was done with every one of these memories and that part of my past. I hid away every drop of it. Everything and anything that had even the slightest resemblance to him I put in a box at the bottom of my closet. I convinced myself that we had never shared these days together. I trained myself to believe that I had never met him. At first it was difficult. Of course I knew we’d met, but after some practice I’d somehow convinced my brain that it had never happened. I’d force new thoughts into my mind whenever it would stray towards him. Eventually some sort of default setting took over where my conscious mind no longer experienced thoughts about him because every incoming thought would be immediately replaced with another. I had truly conditioned myself to believe he’d never been a part of my life. Over time it became easier and more natural. I’d really wiped my mind clean of every bit, right down to nearly every digit of his phone number. Think Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. I’d erased him. I couldn’t remember a single moment we’d ever spent together.

Some years later, when I was over him, all I was left with was this vague idea of once dating him with a complete blur of every detail. I opened the box. For the first time in probably about 5 years, I opened the box at the bottom of my closet with every love letter, photograph, ticket stub, shirt, charm, and trinket that related to him. Something eerie happened. I still had no recollection of any of the relationship. Here there was proof that I could hold in my hands, but it might as well have been someone else’s past. Paragraphs that he’d written, that I knew I had read each night years ago and had once felt a strong connection to each word, now held no relevance. Pictures of us at places I couldn’t remember being at. A Valentines’ Day card I just stared at, blankly. I knew I’d felt immensely strong feelings at one point which tied to all of these things. I knew I had once deeply cared about this person. I knew I had tears shed for him and I knew I hadn’t just invented the whole ordeal. Yet, I didn’t feel a single thing. I picked up his shirt and held it to my face. They say scent is a strong trigger for memory. Nothing. I looked at pictures of myself next to him, smiling, happy, I felt nothing. I read his words “You’re my first love and you always will be” scribbled across the paper and I felt nothing. All I could think about was how strange it was something that had once had such a tremendous hold over me could now not exist at all. Something that had clearly once meant the world to him, which he’d expressed through countless little notes, was nothing more than bits of ink on paper now. I sat there between crumbling dried roses, a broken drumstick, a bracelet, photo albums, CDs, greeting cards, handwritten letters, and wondered what happens to love after it’s gone. Such a powerful emotion must hold so much energy. Energy doesn’t just disappear. Where had it gone? How was it that something which was once present so vividly, with such strength, could no longer exist at all? Why was I able to acknowledge a feeling once existed so easily, yet not be able to feel it in the least. After years of work to forget every detail, for the first time I missed my memories.

A few days later, I wanted to confirm it. After years of cutting off all contact, hiding my eyes from all photographs, even preventing his name from passing through my lips and ears, I dialed his number from an old address book I’d kept. “Hi, this is um…[MY NAME CENSORED] -We dated about five years ago?”…“Of course I remember who you are!” We met for a drink. And still, nothing. I felt no difference towards him than I might’ve any other acquaintance I’d met long ago. There was no anger. No spark. I was not hurt. I did not care for him any more than any other fellow human being. We in fact hardly had anything in common at all. Except an entire four years together, that had now somehow ceased to exist, even within the past. The love that had once lived and clearly been expressed between us had vanished entirely. And I still wondered what had happened to it and where it had gone. In a silly and corny kind of way, I sometimes look at the stars and wonder if any energy related to any of the things I’d ever felt had somehow floated up, out, and away, and was now nestled some place in-between the vast emptiness, planets, and stars. Yes, maybe that’s where the love we’d created had gone. Maybe that’s where my memories were preserved. Meshed in with every other bit of energy that had ever escaped every other creature.
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