Today is a resting time, and my heart goes off in search of itself. If an anguish still clutches me, it’s when I feel this impalpable moment slip through my fingers like quicksilver… At the moment, my whole kingdom is of this world. This sun and these shadows, this warmth and this cold rising from the depths of the air: why wonder if something is dying or if men suffer, since everything is written on this window where the sun sheds its plenty as a greeting to my pity?
Albert Camus, Lyrical and Critical Essays
Heartache is a bitter decadence, the dark chocolate of emotions. Indulgence means savoring the long, slow melt.
Tonight, I wallow.
Disdain would be the easy way forward. Or grumbly resentment, or detached equanimity, or just plain old anger. What else to do with missing him?
Out is a good distraction. This is a buzzing town on a December night. The Weekend section is thick with its glut of holiday fetes.
What’s your pleasure?
Having been through this a time or two, we know a little more about how to dress and cushion a chilled heart. A breakup is a chance to dive into a capacious garment of diversion. Playing music and cooking bring joy, the gym is a quick high, dancing in the living room an expansive release. Friends are on deck. A new language itches to be spoken. The tree winks, and under it, stockings all wait in their happy heap.
Just outside the door, fullness thrums. It slips in around the edges, pinging and popping under the very skin.
Still, I wallow.
Because I choose to feel all of this.
I choose to keep loving him.
My tenderness would prefer to harden. It wants to plant itself upon its judgments and hammer in the regrets. It would be much more comfortable cooling into place, urging in a cellular structure both predictable and manageable. Routines are an even surface, squared shoulders a lid.
But something tells me this form I inhabit is far from complete. It would be premature to set here.
So I keep stirring, keeping the heat on. I choose to stay soft.
He comes to mind again as he does every night — though maybe not every hour, like before — and I let him float. Him here reminding me of him gone. . . what is the sensation? What texture, what name? The choices surge and crest and recede. Despair? Indifference? Exasperation? Pain?
Surge, crest, recede.
I choose love.
I call up what I cherish about him. I rewind and return again to a jagged stone beach at night, then a single thread of a spiderweb catching sunlight, then paintbrushes, plumbing, good morning saffron. The fizz of his laugh. The return of mine, the one he gave back every time I lost it.
Leaving all this buried in the cold earth might be a wiser choice. The list of problems is a concrete skin poured over our story. It takes muscle and more than a little stubborn idealism to dig under it all, to extract silver from ore. This is the one power I have here. I use it shamelessly.
I choose to distill us from the rank slurry. I turn us towards light.
My heart will stay open. This is how I can unfurl generous strands of the purest stuff that comprises me, loop them around the boy, the pooch, the neighbors. This is how I can string the silver net for family and community. How I can weave work and creativity into the much larger project of living well on a burdened planet.
By staying soft, my heart also makes room for someone else.
After tonight, I’ll pull myself out of this delicious misery and open myself again to new friends.
Intimacy takes time. It hurts a little. It did with us, it always does. Shifting into imperfect alignment with another human brings bruises and strains, elbows banging into weak spots. He and I acquiesced to the troubles, we let them win. But the next story will be its own. I will keep myself raw, and refuse to harden when I enter the community of strangers and friends. The companions who will let me walk with them, they are waiting, they are already my beloved ones.
I invite in all of what comes.
Tomorrow, I’ll tuck the achy tenderness into pockets behind my breast, around my wrist, under my tongue. As I’ve done for the last month, I’ll flit across the clock, learning and gabbing and celebrating. I’ll step out and begin again yes, yes, to lift the window where the sun sheds it plenty. I’ll let the day in. I’ll set my own self out on my way.
Tonight, though, I wallow.
This is the last night so I give it my all.
The rich, charred flavor is a chord that clangs against my tongue, my blood. The whole loathsome, self-pitying torment of losing him rings in my bones. Meanwhile, in her smokey minor key, the night sings on. The dog sighs, curled on a blanket at my feet. Purple-blue lights blink on tinseled branches.
I can miss him so hard it hurts, and still be a whole shimmering lovely thing,
and still let him go,
still now, be still now,
tonight is a resting time,
still here with the hushed laugh tucked low in my belly, right where he left it for me.