elvis has left the building

seeing that the theme for this week is breaking up, i thought this short short-story i wrote a long time ago, might make an appropriate post.

 

Freshman year. I saw him coming down the stairs of the lecture hall, his long hair wildly curling, his arms flailing in conversation. I shook my head and turned away, laughing to the person beside me.  I thought he looked ridiculous. It wasn’t that he was overweight or even particularly big – he just took up space, lots of it.

Weeks passed. In the easy, inexplicable, amorphously complex way that friendships are forged, somehow the space around him began to include me and eventually it didn’t even surprise me that we were soon inseparable. Maybe I’d developed a sense of the ridiculous!

We’d stop to lie in the grass on the walk home and talk about whatever was occupying our obviously brilliant minds. We’d dance along the canal to mercurial music emanating (almost magically) from some oboe player practicing in the dark. The hoarded remnants of our student allowances would occasionally allow us the luxury of  savoring a single cocktail and periodically we’d stay up all night writing last minute assignments. It was a joke among our friends that he would do most of the research, but my grade would be 10 percent higher!

Eventually, when we moved in together, we washed up here in this building with the flotsam and jetsam of residents past and present. The apartment was great,  but something about this roof kept beckoning; it was where we’d sneak our smoke or seek solitude. We’d lie near naked, browning on summer days. On hot nights, similarly clothed, we’d escape the heat of our room, dragging our comforter to make a bed under neon stars. We’d lie looking at the back of the first five letters of the sign above the “Silver Screen” (our home from home) – an old movie house which holds all night black and white marathons every Friday night and screens “art” movies the rest of the time. It was our private joke that we’d make a fortune alerting the tabloids that these 5 letters, juggled and repeated, reveal the coded message that “ELVIS LIVES”! We liked the place so much that we stayed on even after graduation, after we went corporate and  could afford slick leather and upgrades on our jalopies.

Now here we are. Probably for the last time.

“I’m sorry,” I finally manage to say. The words come out emotional and thick, remorseful, yet at the same time, unrepentant. They emerge invisible, then solidify in the air and just hang there – ugly as graffiti sprouting overnight on fresh paint. I want to get up and throw my arms around him as if he is still my best friend. As if I don’t have someone waiting for me in a car downstairs. 

As if nothing has changed.

Silence. His words are turned away from me as he stands at the perimeter of this roof like it’s the edge of the world and he’s braced to battle monsters. Like he’s standing on the platform of a desolate station, waiting doggedly for a train he’s been told has just derailed.

It seems to me that we are actors in disheveled wings on the opening night of a play we’ve never rehearsed and to which we don’t know the words. Meanwhile the curtain rises. The audience waits.

Beyond the blank of his back my gaze is caught by those five letters silhouetted against the mottled sky. The car-horn’s quiet cough floats up from the sidewalk, then sounds again, not quite as quiet as before.

I hesitate for just a moment and then rise…

I take my cue.

the morning after…

it’s the morning after the night before. my first of many nights alone in the house, knowing that this time he’s not coming back. the first day of the rest of my life.

and i’m so sad.

i was wise enough yesterday to call my good friend deon for some support. we went to another friend’s birthday party over at claire johnston of mango groove’s house, while l was moving his stuff out. everyone was wonderfully supportive and didn’t mind me crying when i needed and claire and i connected like we’ve known each other forever. and i drank enough punch to knock out a horse, though it didn’t stop me from waking at 2 and wandering the house for the rest of the night. just like the night before.

the irony, the ambiguity and ambivalence is that while i’m mourning the end of what was meant to be forever, i know we had come to an impossible impasse. while we both wanted the same thing, we got lost in our own heads and never made it happen together. and then there are certain things which are non-negotiable for me and others which are non-negotiable for him. there’ve been times when i’ve been ready to walk away, times when all i’ve wanted to do was leave, but we stuck it out and now i feel hopelessly mired. it is so much harder to let go.

but still, it’s 4 years worth crying over, so i’m giving it it’s due and grieving. though i’ll be ok. i’ve been through much worse and come out the other side. so i’m not running away. i’m feeling what i’m feeling and honoring that. i’m owning it.

and i know that everything’s going to  be alright. the slogan for the last week was “change”, wasn’t it? well, a change has come. and without a struggle, the chrysalis cannot become the butterfly.

at least lack of sleep has always brought out the poet in me.

watching love walk away     nov8.08

we sit
on the sofa.

side by side,
yet worlds apart.

your words sink inside me
like stones.
we’re in  a ship descending
into a sea of regret,
while on the horizon lie
tomorrows that never will be.
my tears will not stop
and so the waves overwhelm.

the ship starts breaking apart .
reality threatens to drown us both,
as clinging to flotsam
we float,
a part of each other
no more.
no longer us,
now just you and me.
we’re both still mouthing
“i love you”
and
“i’m sorry”,
but the distance between us deepens.

despite our best intentions,
despite everything we’ve tried,
on the shore, far off,
in the distance,

we  can see love.

and it is walking away.
(pic removed)

A wake  Nov 9, 08

I am holding a vigil
For us
A wake for what was
I am staying up these long nights
Sleepless
My eyes wide
My heart hollow

There’s part of me
hopes that you are sleepless too
But the better part
hopes you are sleeping sound
And resting in peace.

breaking up is hard to do

Contingency Planning

 

 

the milk’s been spilt,

the horse been flogged,

the ship has sunk

got home from work yesterday at the end of a week that was and my partner of 4 years, the one who gave up his life in l.a. and followed me 10 000 miles,  sat me down to tell me he was moving out today. 

talk about a sucker-punch. 

though why i’d be surprised, i don’t know, seeing that we have both been miserable for a really long time. in the 4 years we’ve been together, we’ve split up and got back together at least that many times. it’s not like we haven’t tried. it’s not that there’s no more love. that’s the irony. he is just so much braver than i. because i don’t know if would have had the courage to do it – and it needed to be done. i have a history of staying too long. the frog not realizing that the water is starting to boil…

i just really don’t know if i know how to have a relationship with anyone. it’s not something one gets taught when you’re growing up and most of the examples we’re given, are nightmares we spend our lives repeating.

how can it be that i am equal parts sad and relieved? you’d think i’d have no more tears left, but that’s not the case. 

so. the milk is spilt and even though it was turning sour,  i am crying…

addendum: what is it about election week? my last relationship ended exactly 4 years ago this week – in fact, on election tuesday…