I have lost a few close friends over the years. They moved or stayed or died or the ex got them in the split or we drifted apart or one day they hurt me so much that I realized there was nothing to stick around for. An ended friendship feels a lot like a weird breakup and is only slightly milder. There is a word for losing a lover but there is no word for losing a friend. There is no word for when you lose both all at once. That is the worst reality of language.
You were magic. You didn’t know it. I figured it out pretty fast and forgot it even faster. You were a unicorn and no one comes across a unicorn twice.
This is the skin I live inside. It’s the only real barrier between my guts and the universe. It’s the only thing I wear that I can’t ball up and throw on the floor or drape over the back of my desk chair. It’s the packaging I was born into and it’s the final curtain my soul will burst through when it departs.
I didn’t pick it out and I can’t return it or order it in a different color.
When it’s dirty, I wash it. When I neglect good sense, I burn it. And then beg it for forgiveness while I slather it in aloe vera. Even when I myself mistreat it – you may not. You can’t compel me to cover it up and you can’t implore me to expose more.
This is the skin I live inside. If you can’t understand that, please don’t touch.
On one November 16th, I said that I did not want to be the accessory to your joy; I wanted to be the cause of it. I wanted to be the agent of your happiness.
On one November 23rd, I realized that I should not be the cause of your joy. I should not, because that would mean that if things didn’t work out, I would be stealing not just your happiness but the very source of it. Then I looked upon the beauty that was your life, and your life was a source unto itself.
Usually when I dream I am aware of having taken off my glasses before going to bed. For me, lucid dreaming is a blurry affair, like watching a movie in low resolution. They say watching movies is the closest thing to REM sleep we can have with our eyes open. When, from time to time, you appear in my dreams, I wake up and put on my glasses, certain of the mono-dimensionality of the subconscious.
I don’t think ill of you. I don’t think of you. Perhaps this is a cold sentiment to admit to a vacancy, but I’ve thrown out all the postcards and even after an extended stay, there is not much to say about you on TripAdvisor.
“Would you recommend to a friend?”
It’s not that I don’t remember loving you. I just can’t recall which of the ones I loved you are. You’re a feeling that I get when a stranger walks by wearing a cologne I recognize. You’re a sense of humor I acquired without knowing what makes me laugh. Don’t get mad; I’m sure you knew you were not an isolated case. You brought up your exes from time to time and I brought up mine. I have loved you all in different ways, with the various spaces of myself that each of you unlocked. And invariably, when you left, a part of me was lost too. We are each a castle, or maybe we are the Pentagon—a structural presence above ground, a labyrinth of vaults below. Mine are sealed off even to me, because although I could never forget that I loved you, I can’t say for sure which gatekeeper you are.
Where some have a love, I have a ring full of keys. To what, I don’t recall.
It is my habit to inhale deeply as I enter your building. It always smells like fall there, or maybe that’s just the damp of the stairwell, but I take one deep breath upon entrance and then I don’t breathe again until I’m standing outside your door several flights of stairs later, hand poised over the doorknob. Blood pulsing through my shoulder, coursing towards my elbow like high tide, crashing against marrow, thumping in my ears, sensing your approach behind the door like lunar pull. Did you know that when the moon comes calling, the earth is able to hold onto everything on its surface except water? Water is a moving and flowing life force like the blood of nature, the pulse of planetary attraction.
In case you ever wondered why I am always breathless at your door—it’s because I am the earth and you are the moon.
Written by Julia Wohlers