We dodge the questions like two school kids playing tag, chirping “We’ll do it when we’re ready.”
“We’re saving up.”
“We’re not in a rush.”
But really, we’re just plain scared.
We see what happens when there’s nothing left to run from.
Chloe: What did it say?
Me: That he hasn’t stopped thinking about that day.
Chloe: Who even sends letters anymore? That’s so World War II.
Me: That he closes his eyes and it’s like he can almost get back to it. That he goes home each day and locks himself in his room. Draws in the curtains, turns off the lights. Puts “Hear You Me” on repeat on his iPod. Lays down and just dwells in the memory of it.
Chloe: He sent a letter just to tell you that?
Me: He pulls the covers around his chin and one by one, he considers every detail. The torn booth at Waffle House. A waitress with a spider tattoo behind her ear. The smell of burnt coffee and cigarettes and butter and syrup. The long drive. My feet hanging out the passenger seat window. Mustard ballet flats and Jimmy Eat World. Running out of gas around three in the morning. Sprinting hand in hand toward the nearest exit, laughing the whole way. The rain. The rain. The rain. The sting of the tall grass on our ankles. The heat rising off the wet asphalt. A red gas can and a six-pack. The long walk back to the truck. The sunrise over the ocean. The stillness of both of us in the sand. Side by side. Trying to figure out some way, any way, to keep the sun from rising. To keep the night from ending. To stay in that moment forever.
Chloe: I feel like he could have just called.
Me: He said he’s scarred from it. Marred by the flawlessness of it all. He’s terrified nothing will ever compare. That will always be the best there ever was. He doesn’t know how to move past it. He’s not sure he really wants to.
Chloe: Are you going to write back?
Me: Yeah, I guess I will.
Chloe: What are you going to say?
Me: I’ll ask which scares him more, ruining the most perfect thing that has ever happened to him or never knowing if something that great could be even better.
Chloe: That’s it?
Me: Yeah, that’s it.
Chloe: You should probably just send a text.
All the things that used to scare me (like broccoli and old people and elevator conversations and mistakes and being alone) don’t anymore.
I think this means I’m a grown up.
I used to believe that one person could be my world, my everything. That my whole existence could be perfectly wrapped around someone else. I used to believe this was an acceptable way of thinking. Healthy. Normal. Noble, even.
It was only when I moved away and started anew and went down a path completely alone that I realized how wrong I was.
I had spent far, far, far too long with someone, believing he was everything. When he or I or both of us faltered and our relationship winced and buckled, we held on. Clinging desperately to the lackluster, so afraid to lose it all. Afraid to be left with nothing.
How unfair it is to allow someone else, anyone else to be everything. When in fact, we are our own everything. We exist completely on our own – our beings fully separated from anyone else. With our own thoughts and feelings and breaths and dreams. Our own ambitions and hopes and desires.
I’m glad I chose to move away. Went down this unknown path alone. I’m glad I got far enough away from you to realize you were not my everything. And we were not anything at all.
Just two scared kids, clinging to the lackluster. No idea how to let go.
That’s what I’m scared of. What happens next.
After infatuation and butterflies and obsession and absolute perfection. After intimacy and closeness and comfort and trust. After white dresses and first dances and honeymoon suites. After nesting and settling down and routines and consistency.
I’m scared of what happens next after that.
When all the things you once loved slowly start to wear you down. And you barely speak at all. Where you’re suddenly in a place of knowing one another completely and not knowing each other at all.
And the walls begin to build around you, between you, on top of you. Until you feel so trapped, it’s almost impossible to breathe.
Because you know, what happens after that. What’s coming next. We don’t even know where else to go anymore. The end is the only destination we have for this journey. And so our butterflies turn to moths, and float onward toward the end’s sullen glow.
Then we’ll shed the tears and sign the papers and be cordial and alone.
Maybe if I never do the ring or the dress or the veil or the dance, maybe then we’ll never get to what’s next. And we can stay as we are forever.
That would be just fine with me.
(Image source: High on Skinny on Tumblr)