Three weeks after our breakup, I agreed to meet you for a walk.
By the time we reached the park, I was already regretting it.
I hate having to be the one to be strong, to say no. We are walking in awkward silence. Your eyes are damp with frustration, so I avoid looking at you. Instead, I look down at my dangling arms, shifting them so that they become a barrier between us.
You take a drag from your cigarette, latch your eyes directly to mine and open your mouth.
“Perhaps you could kill me with your sadness, Houdini”
I said “probably”
“probably, I could”
Then there was silence.
There is one thing that you are really good at –
that is listening. You keep urging me to be a better listener.
I tell you that I’m working on it.
You assure me, “if you ever need anything,
don’t be afraid to ask.”
I tell you, “that’s really nice –
but no thanks, I’m good.”
It’s just possible that this final act of refusal is my way of getting one hand on the flush.
It is possible that this pronouncement is a Machiavellian way of drawing pity to myself, but this seems unlikely.
It could be beautiful if we had room inside these bodies for something more than our own obsessed evil. We see now that our past sin mirrors the rarest of our beauties.
And the most beautiful thing about leaving is that we are no longer alive in each other’s worlds. We are no longer bleeding all over each other’s paradise; No longer stooping over the themes that made us embarrassed and sick to our stomachs.
We are only left basking in regret like swamp animals ; beset in the lifestyle like any critter that comes crawling out of the wetlands. Experience says: those pangs of regret are the epitome of death. I look around-and I don’t have to look far, or for very long; the evidence is all around, in metaphorical body bags, and I realize that nobody really makes it; nobody really survives love.
We’re all exhausted. Optimism is something we could live without.
Our health deteriorates alarmingly in love: some days we feel like plague victims; we feel medieval. Our days are spent in bed. Days sweating under sheets, Lying there, unwashed, not sleeping. Those are our dead days.
Yet the worst part about someone leaving you is that you’re left with all this useless information- Passwords, known allergies, birthmarks, hang-ups, favorite songs, scores of happiness collectively with the pronounced feature of removing yourself from the equation of it all. You recount all the rambling, mid-binge missives that phased between euphoria and self deprecating weariness, where all the tiny ponds of tears became a sea of unexpected and incredible poetry. Now there are pages upon untold pages nestled among those bigger memories, countless intertwined enclaves that represent every marginalized or obscure unimaginable.
Euphemistically: I could not keep the girl. I lost the girl.
Realistically: I have felt like I am dying. And she feels nowhere near that, nor me, nor any of the ideas I have about love or life. I believed that I was giving shape to love. And I was ready for love to shape me. But I lost track of minutes and murky moments. I started to drown. And then, I did.
Its a heavy gutted feeling.
But I shouldn’t entirely hate it because I was built for this sorta thing.
“Houdini, You feel alone. I know. You’re such a good friend, such a good worker, such a good lover. You say you feel, feel, feel so many things. And you say, say, say so many things but they are all about you and even if someone loved you like I loved you and poured their melted heart into your hands, there would be some way that you would still be able to make it all about you.”
My name is not Houdini but that’s what people call me.
Houdini was my idol every since I was a young boy. I have always been infatuated with escapology. I’m an amateur escape artist, myself.
Well, isn’t everyone at least a little bit?
It’s the unraveling that sustains our very interest, isn’t it? I mean, once you figure our how to undo the cuffs then the challenge becomes something like an addiction, right? Yes, yes, it is wild to be alive, running so fast towards death. With every turn, bend, and presentation of flexibility I fathom the various positions I could be slaved into without the fear of pain.
The rabbit has long since dragged me into this hat of obsession. I have come to fancy the anticipation of discomfort and struggle. This thrill has knocked me off the hook. The person you are trying to reach is no longer here.
And if I happen to die before you,
-most likely I will,
please remember that I’ve been made nervous by worse things than you.
And with ropes that I use to tie myself to my own irresponsibility, I realize even Houdini himself couldn’t get out of them,even if he tried.
I’ve been taking cold showers every morning instead of going to therapy. The more I worry the less I can breathe. The test results came back negative but I know there is something dreadfully wrong. I keep wanting to email you and let you know I am still alive. No strings attached tho. Or maybe I feel like I need to write you a letter but I fight impulse after impulse then just sit around and eat junk food. I try to be okay, but I’m really not.
All my friends are left handed and bump elbows with me when we meet up at the diner to talk about the breakup. Sorry y’all. haven’t been around much, I know. I work and I disappear and keep returning to wherever home is that day. There’s no glory in it.
4 pages I attached to your e-mail. They were full of emotional shit about how I remembered the first night I met you and they went unread for almost two weeks. When you finally respond you say “Everything is going real real well” and I congratulate you.
You seem happy now and in a different time zone.
You seem 10 years older.
I daydream about you sometimes-
and not that I must have you or even that I want you, but I’m always willing to negotiate. I have been right here all along, waiting for you to get a hold of me. Found it made no difference though. I figure if I could just get your undivided attention for like three hours it would be long enough for me to say all the things that it would take to get you to like me again. I just don’t entirely remember why it was we decided we keep our distance from each other but no worries. You know you belong to no one.
You will want to drunk text me when you are out with your friends one night and they will convince you not to. You need to tell me something that makes sense- you call it closure.
Men will drag you to their porch and below the waist you will feel nothing. Your love will be incidental. You might live uncompromised for quite some time or you might spend your days giving nothing real at all. You will have the wrong idea about everything. You will think of me and remember only the bad times.
And so I lay a cold blanket over all we were.
That summer is as far away as it gets.
Whatever it was, it wasn’t worth holding on to.
We held it to the light, held it to our hearts, and then let it go- let it fall, and learned to walk away.
And while I will never bother to ask where you have been or how many lips have kissed you, I really don’t want to know.
The answer wouldn’t kill me.
So don’t ask me if it hurts -you ought to know better than that. If you so please ever to taste the bitter differences or sweet similarities- Perhaps… perhaps… perhaps the mind knows it has either tasted too much or too little.
But I don’t care.
So much that if in what last moments I may have so shall you be the very last thing that I would ever bother to recall. Even so…here is a final kiss to wherever you are. Twinkle twinkle my stupid little star.
I broke all your shit that you left with me.
The rest I gave away to charity.
I started feeling better and better day by day.