calvin, my favorite ghost
My boyfriend of three years and I broke up on June 12th this year.
That’s Calvin – the titular ghost.
We were sitting on a bench in Central Park and it was one of the most beautiful days of the year weather-wise. Dottie-wise, definitely one of the ugliest. Lots of running mascara.
It was a mutual decision, but an extremely difficult and painful one. It had been coming for a long time, and both of us were sick of procrastinating.
Below is a snippet of my reaction to the break-up and what the kid means to me. Enough time has passed; I feel I can write about it with a clear head.
Also he’s written four songs about me so I figure it’s only fair I write a blog-post about him.
All love, and just a little bit of hatred. (Kidding.)
There is no longer a way for me to express my absolute, whole-hearted, all-encompassing, giant, full, boiling-over mad love for you. I cannot hold you and yell it at you (not that you’ll miss that). I cannot wake up before you, smile at you, fall into you, invite myself over, or stand too close to you. I cannot kiss you with a glance – something I used to do every time I looked at you. I do not know how to feel what I feel without saying something about it. I am direct, aggressive, German; simply feeling it is not enough.
Do you know? How could you? Love is an active word – something I told you many times in earnest desperation; how could you possibly know if I do not tell you, do not show you, do not – ? How can I make myself clear? When will doubt settle in like a head-cold, and how can I combat it with nothing at all? What do you know und wie kann ich mich so ausdrücken, dass du es verstehst?
Sitting on your futon as a relative outsider for the first time, watching you, pretending what is standing in the room is not a thundering screaming abused circus elephant makes me crazy. Everybody knows. They see the sad, lost way you look at me; they see the way I smile at you: weakly, feigning contentedness. Both of us so fake these days.
They hear the sorry reply “I know” coming from your mind and they know, too. You may as well stick a post-it on your forehead. It’s dead, everyone. Let’s just call it what it is.
I spin my drink and sip. Spin, sip, spin. “How are you feeling?” A little bit like I’m trapped in the freezer, Fiona, how are you?
Girls I called acquaintances of my acquaintances leer at you, their eyes narrow and dreamy, no longer forbidden from brushing their lips against your neck when they whisper secrets, desires, dumb jokes they know you’ll enjoy. They eye me, watching for something. I think they might still be afraid of me.
There is something about me that puts women off. Not just these suitors – all of them with similar hair and voices and mannerisms to mine; you really know how to pick ‘em – but most women. They sense something dark and strange here and steer clear like a cautious driver on a midnight highway, tucking their curls behind their ear as they mutter something to a friend. “Was that a deer or a – person?”
This is reasonable. I have an off-putting quality about me, I know it. I don’t resent them for noticing. I am my father’s daughter, and we were not raised to invite people in, console them, cradle them in quilts we knitted and shield them from the cold. We fight drunkenly in parking lots.
Whatever. It’s a haunted house I’m used to living in, and the lights work, so I don’t think I’ll move.
You toss your head back and laugh, unaware of their advances or perhaps simply uninterested, look to me, grab my hand, and I watch the damp cloth of rejection settle on their faces like a fever. Poor things -- it was innocent enough, but it ultimately seemed less like a sexy flirtation and more like an imaginative child drowning in their mother’s blazer. Their eyes large and doe-like again, they slink into the shadows of the party they didn’t want to attend in the first place. So fearful, these women. They tip their hats and disappear, probably to a nearby diner’s counter to drink black coffee, their eyes watery and regretful.
Or maybe I just like Edward Hopper paintings.
You talk about me when I’m not around. I know you do. You’ve told me; others have told me. You share my stories. I think you miss me. You don’t miss it – neither do I. It’s a blessing in many ways, this newfound sense of freedom. But you’ll let yourself miss me sometimes. I’m glad for that. I miss you, too.
Do you know how much I would do for you? How completely lackluster most other emotions towards most other things seem, how they almost don’t count at all? I am comfortable with you in a way that goes beyond the boundaries of verbal communication and how many times in a life-span do you find that in a person? Not often enough, I think. Our souls sit together on the world’s softest thrifted basement couch and shoot the shit without sleeping. They have ideas. Big plans. They’ll make it one day – somewhere, doing something, with some people. Their uncertainty is not unsettling and their possession is not malicious; they just are, and it just is.
I think maybe they have always been there.
A couple of ghosts looming around the city, you and I; every window a watercolor of our time together.
It’s not the way soulmates feel, the way they behave. I thought so for awhile, but I think I was wrong. (Can you believe I’m saying that?) Maybe in another universe you were mine forever ~ my soulmate ~ or maybe you were my brother, my grandma, a schoolboy who did card tricks. All of them at once maybe! Why not? Somewhere, sometime we crossed paths and never left each other alone, our amoebas recognizing their counterparts and trading phone numbers so as to never permanently lose touch.
Or maybe we are different species entirely: I of the earth, you of outer space, vice versa, and we just find each other fascinating.
Or maybe divine creation does exist and someone made you for me and I for you as a sort of foundational comrade. “If all else fails, lean on this one! Her arms are strong and her loyalty stronger!”
Maybe we fought together in The Civil War – maybe against each other (probably the latter, I guess).
Maybe our uncles were best friends for a day during a drunken weekend trip to Niagara Falls and then never spoke again.
Who knows! There’s no real way to know anything! It’s all just guesswork. Educated guesswork. I guessed that you and I would be together forever, and in a way, that is true! I’m back to being right about everything. The way in which we will be together is not what I envisioned (although, looking back, it’s probably best that we never had those thirteen babies), but we will stick it out. I will, at least. I’ll make that promise in confidence. You are a part of my DNA now, if you weren’t already before. My cells will remember you in all of your glory, messiness, and profundity until the end of matter and time and the continuum of all these things.
Just to be in the world with you is enough.
So. Live with that.
I hope you get famous. I do. I think you would enjoy it. I don’t think it would change you.
I hope you play music for a thousand people who love you, who know all the words and all the backstories.
I hope you have a beautiful apartment that drenches with morning sunlight, and I hope you travel to Paris for fun.
We had such a sweet time in Paris.
I hope we run into each other there: on my way to my coffee shop/bookstore/millionaire lover’s chateau, you headed to a concert.
I hope you smoke a cigarette and enjoy it but never do it again.
I hope you love your family. They really are winners, the lot of them.
I hope your dog stays healthy, and you have cold beer and fresh fruit in your fridge all the time, and I hope money flows like the mighty Mississippi straight into your pocket baby, and I hope you visit the ocean and never get sunburnt.
Most of all, I hope that you never feel down or lonely. I know that you will; it’s a part of life, especially a part of yours, but I hope those times are limited and you spend most of your days knowing that you are valued. And laughing. You have such a beautiful laugh. The world deserves to hear it. You deserve to feel it.
I won’t say I hope you fall in love.
It would be a dishonest thing to say.
Part of me doesn’t want that just yet. I still have that white-knuckled grasp on our plans – classic Dottie and her god damn planning. Erbsenzähler.
I still hope you always love me, and think of me, and want to be with me. Not in a regretful or romantic way, but in some way.
One day soon, I think I will want that for you. A new girl. New love. Kids. Today – no. I’m not ready to give it up. I liked my fever dream a lot, and I’m willing to be sick for a little while longer in order to grieve its loss properly.
But the rest of it I can say. That’s the truth. I’m here, you’re there, and we’re together and separate all at the same time, as we all are, as we always have been. You know this much.
I love you.
And I think that’s all I ever need to say.