Sarah texted me, confessing that she was in her old town and drove by her ex’s house.
“Is that weird?” She asked me.
“Not even a little bit.” I replied.
After all, are we all at least a little obsessed with our own ghosts? They haunt us for a reason, and it’s not because we’re over them.
I sat there for a second thinking of a specific moment where I gave in to one such ghoul. It was late spring of 2013. I was preparing to move to Chicago. You were preparing to move back to New England from Asia. We were to overlap for a second, but I didn’t know that yet. I had found myself in your old neighborhood, and I thought very innocently, that it might be good for my closure if I walked by your house. So I did.
I walked the old bike path, enjoying the hot sun beating on the back of my dress. I moved slowly, as to not wake the dead or a sleeping baby. I treaded lightly as to not give up my cover.
When I arrived and stared into the old window that I used to crack open to get fresh air. It had been a year since you left, but when I looked in the window I tried to see you.
Instead I saw me, a lost little twenty something that either didn’t know the lines of affection or who was really good at lying to herself. Looking back, I think it was a profoundly toxic combination of both. While that wasn’t entirely your fault, you didn’t help it. That middle gray was a safe place for you, and for me, having not yet realized any alternative was better.
I walked away wanting more, but understanding that I needed it much less than I originally hand imagined. Abandoned places where other people now live are strange like that. They remind you that your friends, and your home, and your city do not stop once you leave it. It regenerates. Other people see a house where you see a skeleton. Other people see an adventure in the exact same location you feel restless.
On one hand, you want those places to always belong to you, but on the other hand, they should be allowed to find a way to be happy again. You should find away to be happy again, and if you try hard enough, you do.
You know, I try to go back there every now in then, at least in my head. I try to remember what it was like to wake up next to you and to drive you to work in the morning. I try to remember what that half feeling was like, the feeling of close but not quite. I cut to months later when I found that half might have been a quarter, with you giving yourself to someone else part of the time we were together. I cut to me finding out you actually had the capacity to love another, and you were, just not me.
And I wanted to be mad at you, but I was too greatful. Finally, the hallelujah. Finally, after thousands of miles, months of anxiety, and several suitors that tried getting close during that time, I was able to move on.
So I love you, in shared play lists and sent presents. I love you in who you are to me now, the once lover, turned heartache, turned brother-in-arms. I love knowing you as a confidant, and as a friend.
But I’m not in love with you anymore, and while I’m thankful for the girl that was, I love being the woman that could never be. So if you ever find yourself at your old place, you won’t see either of us there.