Friday, August 17, 2012

Breaking up is hard to do


You're probably wondering why on earth I'm discussing a breakup when I've not dated anyone in a legitimate sense in over a year. Rest assured, you haven't missed some major piece of the puzzle on this blog...I'm talking about an apartment.  I'm breaking up with an apartment and it's not even mine, but it is still something I'm actually sad about.

I have historically gotten very attached to people, but I get attached to places as well.  Every time I've moved out of a house or townhouse or apartment, I cry about it at some point.  I remember the significant life events that took place either directly in the home or while I was living there, and I get fiercely nostalgic. 

I suppose that's something many people experience, but I've also found that I go through something similiar when people I know or care about move out of places that I've had shared experiences in.  When M and I dated after my divorce, I spent a lot of time at his tiny little house.  On the surface, it was old, small, and in need of some TLC. 

However, I grew to love that house intensely.  It felt like a home when we were in it.  I often packed up my dog and two cats and we would stay there for a few days at a time.  In the warmer months we grilled on the back deck and played ball with my dog in the yard, and sat on the screened in front porch and watched thunderstorms, tangled up together.  In the colder months we sipped hot coffee beneath blankets on the couch and watched TV, we cooked meals together, we took baths in the claw-footed tub and talked about our future.

Then we broke up.  I lost the house that felt like home and the person who made it that way.  Eventually he started dating someone new, as did I, and they basically lived there together and made it their own for awhile.  Later on, he moved out entirely, and my heart hurt a little for it.  I missed that stupid claw footed tub that was better in theory than reality.  I missed the screened in porch and the cozy kitchen and the yard and the privacy of that quiet little street.  But mostly I guess that I missed the memories I'd formed there.  The safety and comfort and familiarity of it all. 

When the last ex and I broke up, I moved out of his condo and cried.  I cried for the crumbling of our relationship, but I also cried because I was losing the place I had finally accepted as my home after initial skepticism.  I missed the huge garden bathtub, and the soothing colors of the bedroom, and the memories of cooking together in the kitchen, and decorating the house as a team, for our future.  I missed sitting on the tiny patio at the little table set we'd bought together, sharing one blanket, my dog curled at our feet.  I even missed the drafty window in the living room behind the couch, and the shiny red washer and dryer we'd bought on Black Friday that year, standing outside in the cold rain for hours, laughing over how silly a thing it was to do. 

I've cried over the townhouse that I moved into with my ex-husband in July of one year, and that he moved out of in December upon our separation.  I lived in a three bedroom, 2 1/2 bath, 3 story townhouse by myself for 7 months, and it was huge and lonely and I simply closed rooms off entirely, wanting to shrink my space down.  Mostly leaving there I cried for all the bad things that happened during my stay, but I did leave with some good memories.  Wrestling around with M on the couch.  Dancing around the living room tipsy with a girlfriend of mine before we went out dancing that night at a club. 

I've cried over the first apartment I got by myself after the divorce, where I started with M in my life and ended with the last ex, but in the middle I formed some really fun, nice friendships with a group of neighbors.  I'd battled giant flying bugs in the dark of night.  I missed the memories of illicitly fooling around with M when given the keys by the landlord to check the place out one more time before leasing it.  I missed the memories of my brothers coming to visit me in the summer.  I missed the laughter and silliness that brewed after the snowpocalypse storms we had that winter, where the ex  and I walked to the nearly empty grocery store to re-up our food supplies, and later that same night grilled hotdogs on the snowy porch.

So there you have it, I've got a history with missing places that are going out of my life, even if they weren't mine.  The one I'm missing today was never even a little bit mine.  I had it for moments in time over the last year and change, but in sum it wouldn't add up to very much.  And yet.

Today is moving day for somebody.  By evening the studio apartment will be empty.  Possession is in place until sunday, but it will be a ghost until then.  I feel the stretching sense of loss in my stomach because I know it is not ever going to be mine again, not even for the brief periods of time it was mine before.

As always, I want want want what I can't can't have. I want to have that last drive in the dark, purpose folded in my pocket like a secret, knowing it's the last time. I want to arrive and see him greet me at the door, kiss me in the elevator, knowing it's the last time. The elevator where we kissed when we were dating and it meant something, and when we weren't and I wanted it to, and the last times, when it was just kissing for kissing's sake.

The kitchen where he'd made me drinks, the freezer where I'd left that pint of ice cream on the first night, and the same one he got ice cream from another time and fed me bites as we'd talked.  The walls hung with his art, surrounding me on all sides. The moody A/C we'd adjusted up and down constantly. The bathroom where I'd caught my breath and then put myself back together just to go out and get happily disassembled again.

The apartment where we became something. The apartment where we were nothing, but something.  Where he'd confused me and twisted me up and inside out.

Mumford & Sons in the beginning. Tender moments of intimacy he's probably forgotten, but I haven't. Laughter from his rapping, his singing, his serenading. Watching him dance like a fool in the tiny kitchen, entertaining me while I lay laughing on the bed. Drunken beer pong. Giggling until I collapsed in a pile on the floor in a pretty dress, sparkling with our electricity.

In that space he let me into his dark parts. He looked hard and long into my eyes and touched my face and it was something unexpected and powerful.  
I held out hope until today. I wanted my goodbye.  I wanted my farewell before it was gone.  I wanted to go in knowing it was the last time and leave knowing it was the last time.  I wanted to appreciate the moments, and to tuck it all in a little place inside of me, along with all the other secrets we had shared.

Time was ticking, and then the ticking stopped.  Game over, and another place becomes history.

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