We slow-danced in the kitchen today, with tears running down our cheeks. We listened to my playlist — it’s one of my sadder ones, the one for breaking up and other associated emotions. We listened to each song, moving from one spot in the kitchen to the next… You sitting on a stool, me standing in front of you, looking into each other’s eyes… Or me rinsing the spinach in the sink, you coming up behind me, lightly grazing my hair.
We’ve done this routine every year for the last three years — this song-and-dance of sorrow and slow goodbyes. First, I start looking for an apartment. Then, I tell you I’m leaving. Then, you spend the next few days breaking out in tears asking me to stay. It’s not really a fight, with screaming and high decibels. It’s really more like a gentle rain, pouring down from our eyes endlessly for days, rinsing all the badness away. After the storm has passed, you acquiesce sadly, telling me I can take the new bag of rice with me, or something just as innocuous.
I still love you so much. But I know you’re not good for me. I think, one day, you’ll realize how much I’ve taught you to open your heart and let yourself be vulnerable. I can’t be held back from achieving my true potential anymore, when I have this overwhelming capacity to love and empathize and understand. It can’t be limited to one person — it can’t be limited to just you, like you want.
I’m doing something new this year. Every time I say something harsh, like “I’m not in love with you anymore,” or “you’re suffocating me,” I rub my hand firmly over your heart, hoping to massage its pain away. The first time I did it, you said, “That doesn’t help, because you’re the one causing it.” But I think it helps you recognize that this pain, though immediately tangible, will one day wear away, just like any physical hurt. You’ll take me with you wherever you go, and it will be reciprocated by me, for an entire lifetime. It reminds me of the great Fiona Apple’s song, “Love Ridden”:
No, not “baby” anymore — if I need you
I’ll just use your simple name
Only kisses on the cheek from now on
And in a little while, we’ll only have to wave