All of Her Away

Breakup

What you did at first was act like it didn’t matter. Like it wasn’t a significant portion of your life that’d just gone, dissipating into a cloud of nothing. There was checking her Instagram every day, then once a week, then on the bad nights with JD poured into plastic cups. Then there was blocking her and that lasting a month before unblocking her again. Before seeing her with another guy.

There was slamming the phone down, going out in -3 before wind chill, breath vapor on the wind, and running. There was thinking the motion would warm you up, but being sorely mistaken. There was not feeling your hands or your face and getting snow in your shoes. There was running till you couldn’t feel your feet. There was, when you came back inside, seeing the blood on your feet, and the metallic taste in your mouth.

There was drafting up the emails that you’d send to get her back, the texts you composed, ready to send. There was the soulhurt that comes with these things. There was opening the box of old mementos and seeing the pictures not yet you-less, not yet her-less but together, alone together, and seeing her face is like looking into a tunnel where the light barely cuts through and you can only just see through to the other side.

There was sleeping in till 9, then 10, then 11. The perks of being your own boss you said at first, until you’d get no work done and lie on the old couch where she’d sleep when she came over, insisting against sleeping in bed with you though never telling you why. And the way you’d accept everything she said or did as sacrosanct. The Gospel according to. And all that. There was having nothing in the fridge, surviving off of bananas and desperation. There was having a clear rubric of where (y)our life was headed, a little outline pinned to the wall, and then tearing it right the fuck down.

Finally, there was taking all of the old mementos and hauling them into garbage bags the same way Joel did in Eternal Sunshine, if only it were that easy, just ripping out the brain tendrils that the other left in you, erasing them just like that. But you took the bags and you set them out neatly on the curb, next to the full garbage can, and you went back inside and watched as the garbage truck came and hauled all of it away. All of her away.

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A Partial List of Things You’ll Miss When You Leave Alayna Greene

The Britney Spears socks she gave you, holes in the big toes, the ones that made her legs look long long long, and how you’d kiss her forehead when she wore them; the hairs she’d shed that always seemed to make their way into your mouth no matter what, even when she was gone; the DS game with the Japanese synchronized singing monkeys, you and Alayna singing along with them, laughing over their song; the caricatured photos you got done in a mall somewhere, Alayna thinking her lips were too pouty, you easing her self consciousness for the rest of the night; the stop sign you dismantled from its pole, octagonal abs under your shirt when you stuffed it and made your escape; the heart shaped stone you saved from being skipped across the pond and the way she called you a dork when you gave it to her, and then it was forever known as the dork stone; the watercolor trees she painted for you, delicate linework, sprouting from the clouds and reaching for the ground; the medal you earned from the Spartan race, Alayna puking in a plastic bag when it was over and you contracting a three week rash, taking vinegar baths for the duration, smelling like Easter; the piece of toast preserved in sandwich baggy, her insisting it bore the image of Jesus, you saying it looked more like a bearded Christopher Walken, putting off the inevitable call you’d make to the local news station, until it was too late; the shard of mirror you kept after she shattered it with a steaming tea kettle, scalding water burning into hardwood; the telescope you and Alayna used to scope out UFOs, only ever catching the scarred face of the moon, a couple satellites, the windows of a nighttime 747, passengers unaware, some asleep, others staring back out into the night; the handwritten tabs to an old Death Cab song, Alayna’s middle school boy lyrics interposed onto them so that she will follow you into the fart; the button from the boxers you tore when she threatened to leave for the first time, cloth burn from tearing at it, ripping your finger open, smearing blood on the tatters of your underwear as she told you to stop, just stop; a loose plank you stole from the House on the Rock, standing at the edge of the infinity room and wondering if this really is forever; the happy Buddha statue she got from a yard sale and gave to you, then threw into Lake Michigan because she “saw where your eyes were going,” fireworks overhead signalling a reminder of our independence, and sparklers, and a look daddy it’s so bright; a fortune from a cookie from the place with the name that made no sense, Three Happiness, this one reading, “The well you’re drawing from has already run dry.”; the Mario Kart game you always let her win at till you couldn’t let her win anymore and every race became vicious, just like that, making the last turn, heading into the final lap; the Buddha she carved from wood, reclining under the Bodhi Tree, and the poem you gave her in return, not measuring up, drawing tears but for the wrong reason, ending up torn and in the trash, the statue placed over the fireplace; the paint stirrer stained a cerulean blue from the first coat she put on in the new place, and deep dish pizza eaten on hardwood floor, no furniture yet, laughing with mouths full, cross-legged, boxes everywhere; the notes you crumpled and then un-crumpled, hid away in a drawer somewhere, things like, “Working late tonight. Leftovers in fridge. Don’t stay up for me.”; the pillowcase you stained with your sweat, her pillowcase, stained because you’d spoon it on the nights when she’d come home at like 2:30, crash on the couch and be gone in the morning before you even woke up so it was like she wasn’t ever there at all; the ticket stubs you found in the recycling, the collection she’d once made of all the movies you’d seen together, some so old you couldn’t even read the ink anymore, Alayna insisting she was just cleaning house; the zafu you’d bring out when she still wasn’t home and you needed to breathe, your cat nuzzling against your arm as you meditated, bugging you until you practically had to pet him, him meowing till you’d say something back, then resting his head on the cushion and going to sleep; the bike you took out on your day off, on a whim, riding forty miles north, just needing to go up up up, going twenty miles without water in the heat, vision becoming a black tunnel leading only away, popping a tire on the way back and riding that way for miles, till the rubber was shredded beneath the rim and the metal scraped sparks against gravel; the weight vest you loaded all the way up without prior practice, running eighteen miles, something happening in your chest like a glass being broken on pavement, and stopping at the banks of Lake Michigan in the shimmering quiet, peering into all that dark, one foot out and ready to step in, and taking off the vest instead, tossing it in and watching as it disappeared into nothing; the shirt you wore when you came back home from work that night, fog rolling over the park on your walk back, and how you needed to stay there, to sleep on the grass, and when you woke up in the morning the shirt was plastered to your body and you had a cough for a week but were otherwise fine; the key you gave back when it was time to go, and the cry you shared, a tired one, with love still coloring the edges of it, leaning on each other so you wouldn’t fall down down down, and the very last kiss you planted on her forehead.

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