When you fall out of love, where does it go?
It’s been two years since my heart was broken in New York. In that time i knew exactly where the love went because i put it there. It festered in my bones, though not love anymore instead it became this jagged manifestation–stale and blighted, like bread in a closed container left in a hot car. This thing once called love, was somewhere in my body, it left my heart, traveling down my skeletal highways and back alleys, prickling my nerve endings and manipulating my senses.
Now, this matter was most entirely my fault. I held on to memories and words never said. The love I’d offered him, once fresh and full of hope was expired and for a long time i forced it to live. In the deadening silence between us, it was all i had. The only control i ever had in our relationship. It took two years to realize what that experience did to me. The line pinged sporadically, very little life left, almost ready to flat line and i let it. I let go.
When do you realize these things? I think, when you have to. My realization came with an event in my life i will never forget.
That love, that infection invited a black melancholia, which took years too control and pump air back in my lungs. I had to reacquaint my senses with a taste for life. It’s a delicate equilibrium when you finally get to it, when the world has colour once again. I thought I’d found that perfect balance prior to a trip back to the source of all my wounds. Back to New York. I would be fine, right?
The night before I was to leave, someone died in my front yard. A security guard, a nice man with a family. He mistakenly shot himself with his gun and was dead in five minutes. I was packing in my room. Suddenly, my dad came in; “Did you hear that?” He’d heard a bang, we ran out onto the balcony, peering down into the security booth. A body was there, slumped over, barely moving.
Then we were on the cold, grass outside, calling his name…nothing, silence. Some time later i was leaning out the upstairs window, eyes fixed on the scene below, lights pulsing from police cars. I watched as they pulled his body out and took him away. My arms hung over the window bars, i couldn’t move, i couldn’t look away. The next morning i brought cold water out to the cleaners who were scrubbing furiously, smells of bleach and blood in the air. I peeked into the furor; red everywhere, splatter on the bookcase and chair. The cleaner was wrenching a broom back and forth over pink bubbles. The normal reaction to being surrounded my such trauma is to do just that, react. I didn’t, i felt very little. This event catapulted me backwards, into the black.
I got on that plane somehow and was forthwith sitting on apartment steps in Queens NY, wading through memories, waiting for an old friend. Then my beautiful, old friend bounced up the stairs– silky hair slung over her shoulder. She was like a fresh breeze. I was staying with her and we sat talking that night, i spoke about the shooting like it was something I’d read in the news, not my reality.
The next few days were a blur. I forced myself to be ok when i wasn’t, i needed my wonted distraction, i needed him. His ghost was everywhere i walked, the thing once called love was festering, i was rolling it around my mind like marbles between fingers. The memory of him was gravity. It was the only control i had, in a world where i could control nothing that happened to me, this delusion was air for my lungs. Maybe I’d see him, maybe he’d help me forget the blood, the smells. He’d always been my favorite drug.
I came back to my friend’s apartment from a day out and mentioned him. I was angry at myself. She listened, scrolling through her phone; then pausing. Come over here, look. He’s on Human’s of New York, She said. There he was, leaning against a limestone pillar, older and tired, in the blazer he’d worn to his cousin’s wedding; In the pants I’d see often lying across the bed while we brushed our teeth, side by side in our underwear. I recognized the whole set, I remembered the smells. I could handle those.
There was no turning back for me, i was grappling with a ghost at this point. My eyes were glazed over with dead, zombie hope. I reached out to him, no response.
We went to a bar that night, meeting a mutual friend who’d just been on The Face, judged by Naomi Campbell and such. Two of her fellow contestants were there, including the winner. She’d just broken up with an asshole, we drank our sorrows away together. The bartender was cute, he kept giving me drinks and i somehow believed i was a rum connoisseur, so was sampling the entire range he had. In the revelry, a sound erupted in my ears, so familiar i didn’t know where it was coming from. Was i that drunk? No it was real, it was him. The music i started listening to, because i wanted to know who he was prior to our meeting. Further into our relationship, it became a comfort, like an old sweatshirt of his. I could hear his fingers on the bass strings, throbbing in my head. Those fingers.
After the fact, it was a solemn reminder, i avoided any auditory remnant of him. But alas, there i was, frozen in a bar in Brooklyn by those familiar bass strings, the sounds of him. “Can you turn this off please?” I asked the cute bartender. “Naw man i love this band.” He replied. I got up and lurched to the bathroom, i locked the door and stood. I needed a moment to be still, to close my eyes and allow the accustomed sadness to wash over me.
I met up with the bartender again the night before i left. I needed a release, i needed to use something; to test fate. If i did this, maybe irony would step in and he’d just appear. I drank myself stupid and dragged the tapster around the east village, my lips sore and torn from his eagerness. He got cold feet, thought i was too good for him, embarrassed or something. Whatever. If only he knew what a pawn he was. I got in a cab, the morning light blasting my face. The city was whipping by me as the car moved along, back to Queens. I was crossing that bridge again like the last time I’d left New York, the last time i’d left him. I thought about the man who lost his life, I couldn’t escape the flashing pictures in my head. I felt detached. Where was he? He was my gravity. Wasn’t he? Was he? No, he wasn’t. I was alone in this, I was very, very alone.
I finally reacted in the back of that yellow cab. I sobbed into my hands, I sobbed for all the loss in the world, all the loss in my world; the man who died and the man who was never there to begin with.The good man’s family lost someone who loved them, who cared. I’d loved and lost an idea of someone who didn’t exist. The true form was well, kind of sad and wearing an old, wrinkled blazer.
I think within a nanosecond of that break, I started letting go. I processed seamlessly. Any attempt at kismet control was futile, the particles and whatever magical molecules forming circumstance and coincidence won’t allow it. I would never have that post-mortem. I would never need too. I could however deduce myself and had to. I had to manhandle my reactions. Sometimes you need a little help.
So I did, I helped myself. I got back up on that steady balance and with some potent perspective; I stopped relying on the unreliable.
So when I fell out of that thing called love, where did it go?
I have no idea. Call off the search and mourn the deserving.