We walked along the city streets. We were on our way to the airport. But there was still an underground ride to get there. So we walked briskly down Pulitzer Ave. And I felt his finger in the middle of my back. Like hard. Like with that energy that pulls you down, but you can’t pinpoint why or where it begins. Is it internal? Is it external? Can you move the finger, or is it inside your mind? And the feeling came into my mind. And I shook a bit. Not because I knew to be scared. I loved him. He had captured my attention. He had made me love him, pulled me in and held me tight when I wanted to leave. I had… Well, now I can see it. But I couldn’t then.
It might have been the tenth time I had seen the cracks in what I would learn to be his mask. A very strong, well-founded, well-practiced mask was the always-ready outfit to don any occasion. And I was only as strong as the way I felt when he was so ‘honest and direct and simple and average and humble’… And when he moved out of town, well, he didn’t call me. But I could find the reason, without his prompting, because my love had taken its own course. He didn’t know… probably, but I was exactly what he needed. Someone who was both tied down and free, someone both open and closed, someone both scared enough to communicate and brave enough to work through anything and willing to believe what he told me. It was a series of things. And if it was 2 times or 56, I was living here again. And I found a way to believe he wasn’t doing what I actually experienced.
I felt his finger push my lower spine, towards the metro stairs, maybe 50 stairs, deep into the earth. I felt fear and anger and rage, and when I turned and said ‘stop’. He didn’t. There were people all around. I told myself he didn’t hear me. When the stairs came up in front of me, I felt myself helpless, but not completely. Not enough that I would scream, but enough that I would suffer quietly. I’d suffered enough in life to have this skill easily ready, ready to invoke, if the world were to hurt me beyond my ability to fully perceive. And when we boarded the metro, and I couldn’t breathe, maybe my first panic attack, he asked me if I was ok… I was confused and confounded and ready to speak my truth, peacefully.
“I can’t breathe. Why did you push me?” He looked at me innocently. I can’t tell you what he said, but it looked like innocence and confusion, and I can still see the way his face told me he had no idea of what I was speaking. And I looked down again, sure I wasn’t crazy, but unsure if I had experienced what I thought, what I was thinking. And on the way to the plane, somehow, once again, I found a way to dismiss, to disguise, to dress up the behavior of what I learned was white rage. I wouldn’t know till years later what it was, what I had done, what I had believed, what I had been sold, what I was willing to do for love, for the man, the man I loved, for the story (and he wasn’t to be the last I loved and held and believed)… And I didn’t know I was doing it either. I mean, again, I can see it now, in retrospect, in hindsight, in the rearview of my memory. And as all rational people I know, it isn’t clear how much is 100% reality. But I know I am not crazy.
I know it was the beginning, the training of me, the extension of my childhood abuse, the flourishing of my humanity. It was the start of a story that never ends because it never leaves. It takes the girl I was and turns her into something more, something less, something stronger and so fucking weak. It changes the way I see myself, the way I still see love and intimacy. It changes everything.
And I hope every single day, the universe will forgive me for this egregious moment, for the ones that followed, for different loves, for different compromises, for different versions of understanding. Not to punish, not to change it all, but to tell me I am capable of something that isn’t demeaning, that doesn’t hurt, that isn’t something I have to file and repeat and refile and express and rewrite and continue to process, maybe even decades.
The thing is, I realize what I did. I know who I am, who I want to be. But sometimes, the day, the weather, a sad movie, will unleash the fury of what I have allowed to be, to grow, to become the beasts I’ve had to grieve. And I struggle with what to say, what to bury, what to share, to inspire, to give courage to, what is just every fucking sad story for many bodies.
But if I had to leave an ending, it would be… if you read this and feel a very little twinge of anything… leave. Don’t dabble. Don’t flirt. Don’t disagree. Don’t defend. Don’t cry. Don’t look back. Don’t conceive the rest of your dreams from something that feels wrong but answers correctly.
Life is short, my loves. And if I can offer anything, at an age just under 50, it’s to find your heart, never get stuck in a moment you can’t understand.
If you think there’s better—my dear, there is. There is. Everything you dreamed. And if it feels off, it fucking is. It just is. So wait for it. A year, a day, three decades. Live the life in between. But there is everything you dreamed of. And you won’t find it easily, but when you find it… there is simplicity and peace. And you’ll know because of these, stories like these.
Keep living. Keep knowing. Keep learning. Never stop believing you will find it, even if you’re 73.