I moved in next with the person who did not love me, who promised to forever, the tiny space not big enough to escape the strain of my continued presence. I spent days at the large storied library downwind of this despairing house; walking home in the dark, unaware, unconcerned and inconsistently fearless for my safety.

There was not a place to feel the bleakness of the salt streeted skid this life had become, so at night, when his breathing matched my footsteps, I made my way into the next room, putting headphones on, the music scoring the soundless wailing into the dark that had stopped hearing me. Then, sated and head down, I could slink back and sleep away the rest of those soulfully slow nights.

That winter I did not live, I subsisted. I felt the thawing creep of him leaving before he spoke the words out loud, and as suddenly as it began, it was over.

It was blessedly over. The shift from stuck to skimming happened in one sentence on a Sunday night, the most glorious sacrament of our undoing.

Even in that lightening of feet, I sat freed from waiting and then asking my waiting self, why? I cast him in the role as decider because I waited, and waiters don’t choose. My inability to say no at the beginning led to my inability to go at the end. He carried that story for years, on his unknown absent back.

The move to the next was fast, clean and free of the emotion that kept us trying. In the letter to him in that small gray burnable notebook were these words; ‘I didn’t want to be there anymore than you wanted me there; you changed your mind—it took me that to realize I could make up mine. We were both lost and I thought less of you because it was easier than seeing what we had in common. I offer forgiveness to us both.’

When I went back it was summer, that old paint tired house had been lovingly restored, flowers and riotous trees tossing a wave hello. It was suddenly clear and light and I waved back to the girl in the window who didn’t live there anymore.

The grit it took to sand those old walls is what it took for me to listen and leave, and it was the word I took with me as I drove my car away in the silver mountain sun.


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