I have written draft after draft about this, and yet nothing sufficed. This, too, is long and flawed, and I don't know how it sits with me.
Since the day I saw you one month ago, I've repressed the notion of, ironically, not feeling anything at all.
Today, however, I had two reminders. Small, seemingly insignificant. A past date and a conversation -- reminders no less of the stagnant feeling within myself of how things left me one month ago and what the "nothingness" might actually mean.
The first reminder came at lunch, while with a coworker in line at a Shake Shack.
The person said that they find it both ironic and perhaps a bit disappointing that for months they had built up the possibility of a specific conversation so much so that when it came time for it, the punch back felt weak, even forfeited.
I agreed with him. And then I thought of you.
When I heard that you were finally ready to face me, I was out drinking with friends. My mom called, and then she began to cry, which is so unlike my mom. She said she had something to tell me, but that she was nervous of setting me back. You've been so good. I don't want this to affect you and your job.
I knew immediately what she was referring to.
When she told me the news, I laughed. I was actually overcome with joy, satisfaction, relief. Finally.
After six years I would get closure on by far one of the most emotional and dark experiences of my life.
I said that I couldn't wait for you to see me now. To see that I am okay. To see that I am making something of myself.
So, I waited. For nearly two weeks. For the call I never thought would come from you.
As I waited for your call, I experienced heartache from a short lived affection.
He'd stormed into my life only to storm right out, letting me know how not worth it I was to him as he left.
His reasoning I could look past.
But your failure to call gnawed at me more than his rejection had.
Those who know me most know the whole fucking story. With hesitation they asked, one by one, how I felt. I told them I was fine. That I didn't know. That I had recently grown accustomed to rejection. I said I was more upset about the guy, but we all knew I was lying.
It would be no big deal.
Except in my heart I had already dug up my fifteen year old self. For two weeks she stood alongside me -- a forgotten shadow I hold with the most delicate reserve. When my mom's phone call came, I grabbed the shovel and began digging.
It was a Monday. When you reached out to me.
A six year chapter ended -- a page turned, first to the prologue, only to lead to a new chapter.
Nervously we made plans.
You suggested coffee, even though you never ordered anything.
We arrived at the exact same time -- which I laughed about because irony always had its way with me when it came to that era of my life and all who were in it.
You seemed well, and I said I was great.
We aren't ones for small talk, so you got on with it.
Six years coming.
I had nothing but forgiveness to offer. And you offered it to me in return.
And I didn't.
I wanted to cry. I had always imagined myself crying. I'd rehearsed the conversation in my head for six years. I thought I'd have a moment -- with time that moment became less about showing you coldness and more about showing you my raw emotions.
When time came to it, all expectations failed me.
As you cried, I wished to reach across the table but I couldn't.
Perhaps it was because so much time has passed. In efforts to tie pieces of the story together, I'd brought up your son and you said he was off limits.
Which is fair. I assured you that I can respect a marriage.
So, we left so much unsaid. Even though all that needed to be said was poured out on the table.
Like slicing myself open on the table, and there's blood, and you're helping me clean up the guts.
Just like that.
The second reminder came when I saw a date for December 5th, 2009.
It's always a reminder, taking me back to the panic and the ever deepening loss.
And that's the part of our conversation that made me cry.
The loss that will never leave. Of being fifteen, and not understanding death.
The trauma of it. The emptiness.
It's the grossest thing, and I am so sorry was all I could say as I held my face.
Because losing your daughter is gross. It's wrong, and it's disgusting, and I will never not be angry about it. I will never not be okay because of it.
I told you that her death is a place I can't go to without crying. To this day, those who ask me enough questions will reach that root in my past, and I'll quickly refer to it while balancing between past and present.
I told you about the box I keep deep within myself.
I said it's where the fifteen year old in me is wrapped and kept away. I explained that your apology required me to take her out. To look at her again.
As I write this, I'm discovering that perhaps this is why I didn't cry when you apologized.
You caused me to take my box out and look at myself with the eyes I now have. Eyes belonging to the woman version of myself who knows her worth and her ability, not the girl whose world was defined by the valley she had never left.
And, in the two weeks of not hearing from you, the severity of what I felt was a rejection that made me process my vulnerability. I'd lived the worst case scenario of the confrontation. Your apology was a bonus, and all I needed was gratitude.
You told me that you were nervous about how much damage had been done within me.
You hoped that I'd been well. Explaining that on occasion throughout the years, you'd catch glimpses of me and I'd seemed just fine, which comforted you. Maybe I'd found a healthy dose of normality.
You apologized for what I experienced, what I saw, how I took on the grief and the pain.
For that, I can't be sorry.
I wouldn't have done those two years of my life any other way. The days in and out are a brief time in the grand scheme of what you have faced and will continue to face. And for that I respect the hell out of you, and my heart breaks, and I am still angry.
Sometimes it hits me. All that happened. I'll be sitting at my desk, and a song will come on from before. I am taken back to the moments that helped make me who I am.
I told you that I hold those memories with such gravity. When Hollywood drowns me, I cling to the buoy of what matters in life. I cling to the experiences, no matter how dark, that let reality come crashing through the windshield of my vision.
You were scared to see how much damage had been done to me, and I was afraid of letting go of my anger.
I still don't know how I feel about it, even though I have let go.
The past month has been interesting in that regard.
Certain people have caused me to open up parts of myself, and I realize that I can't use anger as a method of protection when they finally hurt me.
It's a nakedness I can't adapt to just yet. Though, with time, a miracle might happen.
The quietness of all my other emotions is what I keep coming back to.
Certainly it's not apathy. And even stagnancy doesn't seem a fit description now that I think of it.
Perhaps it was in facing myself.
When I left you, we agreed to meet again in December.
I want to see the kids, and I think that by then seeing them will be much easier.
Upon returning to Los Angeles the following day, I decided to bury the old version of myself yet again...though not immediately.
I've left her out to breathe, lingering in the far corners of my mind. I've let her see who she has become thus far, and told her that it all works out.
She was so afraid of never writing, of never being loved, of never moving to the big city.
She feared that the depression would never pass, that hope might always remain in the distance and never find its way to her arms.
She couldn't fathom the plan that would unfold, or dream up the faces she would fall in love with.
She was reconciled to a future that wouldn't have closure.
To finally receive it is so much why I am still silent.
My hope is that the shock and gratitude will blossom into peace.
More peace within myself. More empathy for others. More love to give when love becomes right again.