October 12, 2009

Maybe It's Me: Black Not Blue, or, The Unraveling of a Tightly Wound Up Heart

It’s a good thing to remember that broken things were once broken. And that whatever is holding them back together again can be undone in a breath’s length.

Perhaps because it’s gotten stronger – I think because the wall around her has gotten bigger – most of the time, I am unaware that my heart is still healing after its most recent massive break. The overwhelming hurt I once suffered through is not nearly as prevalent as it once was. That’s not to say that there isn’t this constant ebb and flow of a deep ache situated in the very core of my soul every second of the day over the boy that broke my world.

But, for the most part, I’m okay.

I always knew though, the tape that had been holding the pieces of my world, the pieces of my deformed heart together, would at some unexpected point be ripped violently away. When I was being broken up with I asked him, desperate for a reason, if it was because he was moving away. Or, perhaps, he had met someone else? Worst yet, maybe he had been diagnosed with some life-threatening disease.

He said it was none of these.

It just was what it was.

After this, I had prepared myself for the moment when he and I would run into each other again. It was inevitable. The world is a small place, and everybody who’s ever meant something to me has a way of showing up again in my life’s plot further on down the line. Beyond the metaphysical, we shopped at the same grocery places, frequented the same restaurants, and our commuter routes overlapped at brief points.

So, I looked. In grocery stores, in parking lots, downtown, driving down the road – I always kept my eyes peeled for him – his Antoine de Saint Exupery “Little Prince” good looks, for his blue car that I discovered some of, what is now, my favorite music in. I looked. I couldn’t tell you what I was going to do when we did run into each other (attempt small talk?, try to flirt?, try to win him back?, try to pass it off like I wasn’t a wreck of an individual at the expense of his very hands?), but I knew that at some point it was going to happen.

But I never saw him again.

I convinced myself then that he had, in fact, moved away. That thought, accepting that he had moved away helped push him from my mind. He didn’t exist in my realm anymore. That I was so assured that he didn’t exist anymore (had he ever? It was beginning to feel that perhaps I had created this person from shards of memories of all the best traits from all my past lovers) helped me cope with my heartbreak.

Yesterday, I was driving down the turnpike and I began tailgating this car. Lost in the music I was listening to, I impatiently began wondering if I should pass, despite the fact I was already going a little over the speed limit.

And then, in three strong, solid heartbeats, as if being brought back to the world of the living with a defibrillator, I realized: it was him.

THUMP. His black Toyota Matrix.

THUMP. His broken bumper.

THUMP. Texas license plate.

My heart began hammering so hard in my chest I could barely breathe. What to do? WHAT TO DO?! And without the opportunity to overanalyze it, I sped up and began passing him. I looked over and sure enough, it was him – strong jaw line, wheat colored hair, gazing intently ahead on the road. I pulled back into the lane, in front of him, and continued to drive normally.

Did he see me? It didn’t seem so. He was still driving just as close behind me as I had been originally to him. It was only a matter of time before he must have realized it was me (then again, how many white Taurus’ with “Moxie” bumper stickers are there?) because he slowed way down, backing way off from me.

He knew it was me.

But I don’t think he knew that I saw him, too.

All this time I had been searching for a blue car, not a black one. This is probably why I hadn’t seen him; I wondered how many times he had seen me, then. I don’t really know why I had, all that time, thought his car was blue. Perhaps it’s because there are elderly people down the road from me with a blue Toyota Matrix, and they pass by my house every day between one and one-thirty pm. And, when I look up from my desk, I secretly hope it’s actually my ex-boyfriend showing up to whisk me off my feet. But it never is. It’s the elderly couple, and they look at me like I’m crazy and keep on driving.

I’ve begun waving at them.

They’ve begun driving faster by, trying not to make eye contact.

Anyway, my gut reaction after passing him was to call and rather nonchalantly say to his voicemail (since he literally has not spoken to me or seen me, answered an email or a phone call, since he broke up with me) “Oh, hey, I think I passed you on the highway the other day! Crazy. Whatta small world.”

But I didn’t.

I instantly began to obsess. What was he doing driving on the turnpike at seven-thirty in the morning on a Sunday in October? Did he ever get up that early to drive random places when we were dating? Maybe he was going to spend the day with his friends’ parents, which wouldn’t have been out of the norm. Maybe he was running errands? Maybe he was going to lead-peep. Or, maybe . . .

And that’s when I realized: maybe he was either going to, or coming from his girlfriend’s house.

That had to be the answer.

So, in that moment, as I watched him slow down and veer off to a random exit as fast as he could, I convinced myself then that he actually had a girlfriend. And she was probably blonde. And a lot prettier than me. And more intelligent. And more compassionate. And kinder. And more of a woman than I could ever hope to be.

End self-pity.

(Listen: I’m pretty awesome, but even the awesomest of us have our enormous moments of self-doubt – like when imaginary tall, blonde girls invade your head and start graphically making-out with the boy you’re not-so-secretly in love with).

That thought, that he was in fact dating someone else, was the moment I remembered that broken things were once broken. And that whatever is holding them back together again can be undone in a breath’s length.

In a breath’s length, the wall around my heart came crashing down again.

Now, you can do one of two things when you’re world starts falling down around you. You can either scramble about trying to catch the pieces before they hit the ground, or you can stand back, take a deep breath, and watch them fall one by one by one.

Maybe it’s me, but I think it’s healthy to fall apart sometimes.

It’s healthy to be destroyed.

Because of the devastation left, one is free to rebuild.

And we all need to rebuild ourselves every now and again.

Tape and glue can only do so well holding the pieces together. But complete reconstruction of everything one is and stands for is a real gift – a lot of us are devoid of that opportunity because we’re stuck in relationships, or jobs, or apartments, or morals, or whatever we don’t want to be in, or can’t or won’t or don’t want to leave.

Creatures of comfort are dangerous creatures.

Now I, by no means, praised my ex’s name as he left me completely incapable of functioning when he drove away from me. I went home to listen to depressing music and hated on my heart, all the while knowing that if I could make it through the rest of the day, I would, for the most part, be okay by the time I woke up the next morning.

And, as my heart continues to grow stronger – mostly, I know from the walls around her that keep getting bigger and harder to penetrate – I will grow continuously unaware that she’s still healing, and probably always will be. Hearts are meant to be, I think, in a constant state of growing tougher, able to withstand more and more, all the while staving off cynicism and bitterness.

For now, a new layer of tape has been applied, holding the pieces of my world, the pieces of my deformed heart together again as she continues to thump steadily in my chest reminding me that – yes, this boy hurt me for reasons no one can understand; and yes, I’m still in love with him hoping that between now and soon he’ll reach out to me; but, he helped me find and recreate myself; and, most importantly, what it all boils down to: I’m alive.

I. Am. Alive.

Feeling pain and breathing through it.

So thump goes my gingerly sewn together heart.

Thump goes my delicately glued together muscle.