Three weeks ago exactly, I went on a long touring walk of Manhattan—something I don’t make as much time for as I would like. I started the stroll in Greenwich Village, meandered to the Hudson, squeezed my way down and through Chinatown, fell into the dark hole of the financial district and crawled my way back to the west village. As I was walking, I noticed an uncanny amount of vacant buildings, for sale signs, clearing out closing sales and stores that were once well loved and well charmed with nothing left but a sign, a number to call for the next potential person of interest and a bleak looking skeleton of a store, chalk and dust of what used to be.
I felt a sudden sense of emptiness of what was intended to be a walk seeking inspiration. I was saddened by the piercing truth of closure, endings and the realization that sometimes even the greatest New York charms must close their doors. On my walk I passed by where a very distant ex boyfriend used to work on Spring Street. I was taken back to memories of meeting him for lunch, quick coffee breaks, kisses around the corner, our shared apartment and a completely different version of my self and of my life. Though the closure on that chapter was one of years ago and the memories are fainter now than ever, I could still scramble to taste them if I really tried.
As I walked back through the West Village, I accidentally walked upon a cafe that had recently closed that had a more recent memory of an old love. The cafe, along with the days theme of closure, had also gone belly up and closed its doors. I had heard the cafe was closing months ago, but it didn’t quite hit me or effect me until I stood next to it on this particular day. Until I saw the doors, the unkept windows and looked inside. I remembered exactly what I was wearing the last time I was here. Red lipstick and a red and white striped see through top that I actually haven’t worn since, yet is still hanging in my closet. I remembered exactly how I felt when I saw her sing. The time in a new relationship where you start to meet their friends and introducing your beloved to some of yours. Remembered the exact touch on my right shoulder and a hug from behind, feeling her breasts against my back, sitting at the bar, only hoping during the entire set she played that she would come over and do exactly that. I blinked myself out of the daydream, back onto Jones Street and saw plastic covering the bar stool that I had sat at, walls painted white when they used to be so dark, smokey and moody with an empty space of where the piano used to be. I looked to the brick wall outside the cafe where we shared one of the most magnificent kisses of my life. A kiss that slowed down my thinking and quickened everything else in my body. The kiss that marked the moment that I knew I loved her but of course didn’t dare to tell her. A kiss that because I didn’t say the words, a part of my soul slipped off my lips instead. It was Christmas Eve of last year and the daydream of the past happened on November 11th of this year.
What the fuck just happened? How did I just shape shift back to that version of me in the past? Where did the time go? How did I just see the entire scene from the past with perfect detail and in perfect color? And where did it all go? How was I just transported into the past so viscerally and so quickly? How is it that I can smell her? How can I see and feel her hands and remember the rings she wore so clearly? How am I walking back home with this amount of pain when I started this journey so joyful and curious? Why do I all of a sudden painfully miss her? Why did I leave her? Where is she right now? Does she ever think of me?
A few days before the walkabout of the city, I misplaced the necklace she gave me for my birthday which I figured I would have found by now. I still haven’t found it and I don’t know if its wise to keep looking. A geodesic gold fox that for whatever reason, I never stopped wearing when we parted ways. The fox was meaningful for me at the time and had come to me as a spirit animal during my first taste of shamanic medicine in England.
Cunning, clever, invisible when she needs to be yet seen when she wants to be. I felt cool, coy and just fine wearing the necklace of my own deceit around my neck.
When we broke up, I threw away a lot of our letters. We were never long distance, just a few stops on the L train apart, but we wrote each other letters anyways. Often. Handwritten and with postage. They were special but I always envisioned that the chapter was closing and that if we are meant to be back together, then we will have new letters of love to keep. I’m glad I didn’t keep them because I think I would be losing my mind, more so than I feel like I already have been but I also lament and wish I would have kept them, for inked words of love have now been replaced by simple text messages of people that don’t know me the way she did. The moments in retrospect that you wish you would have done things differently. Wish you would have understood the beauty, depth and richness in the connection while it was still alive and in the present.
EVERYTHING MUST GO: GRAND CLOSING SALE. Oh, the post break-up clean up. Out with the pictures, the letters, the gifts, the reminders, the toothbrush, the emails, the sheets. A 24hr expedited closing up shop. I don’t know why, but I didn’t do that with her things. I don’t think I was holding onto anything, or thinking we would get back together, I just didn’t feel the physical objects needed to hold so much value as I gave them in the past, or that I had severely downplayed how important she actually was to me. So I let them still live here, not all of them… but some. People would compliment me on the Fox necklace all the time and ask me where I got it. I would think of her every time but though i thought of her, said her name— I could never feel her. Until now.
Within the past three weeks, I’ve called my ex a few times and sent a few text messages. All unreturned or straight to voicemail. I don’t blame her and I’m not surprised. I probably wouldn’t want to talk to me either. I am certainly responsible for us breaking up and for most of the communication breakdowns, nor was I very honest or faithful towards the end and had a good amount of foxtrotting and fox fucking to still do. And I sure as hell went running and sure as hell got myself into some impressively deep and painful dead-end fox holes since. Made some great memories! Though fleeting. I traveled to four countries on three continents. Worked really hard. Doubled my bank account. Finished a year long program I had been working on when I was with her. Worked on myself. Yet here I am, tail between my legs just wanting to go home, wishing she was home, wishing we shared a foxhole of a home and for this nightmare of a walk around the city to just be over.
What did it all amount to? What did I gain from leaving? What did I gain from the other love affairs I had afterwards that never actually went anywhere? What did I gain from another 9 months of independence and of doing things as I wanted, when I wanted and how I wanted? What did I learn and what part of me all of a sudden wants to go back? What is it that I am actually trying to go back to? Who is she now? I know I’m not the same, so how could she be? The memories and flashbacks have gotten louder as I really dove headfirst into this old pain.
This journey back into the past has taken a great deal of emotional labor and I understand why it’s easier to just leave things as they were, where they were. I wrote a three page handwritten letter to her. I meant every word and it came from a pure and honest place in my heart. I mailed it and for two weeks I thought the anxiety was going to engulf me. It was bold to have sent it instead of burning it but I guess that’s what happens when you play emotional russian roulette with the past.
Nothing is for certain.
Nothing is owed.
Nothing has to be forgiven.
Nothing is real, for all I know this entire past love, past life has only ever existed in my own imagination. It’s only real to me. It’s been a trail of memories resurrected that now get thrown back into the abyss of the past. But while I’ve been here and since I’m at it, I’ve been more clear about the lessons I learned, how to walk around the fox holes in the future and how to smell and outsmart a fellow fox.
I recently came to the deepening understanding that acceptance is the only way for closure from the past to suture itself back together with the present, and accepting that even with the most esteemed and proficient of surgeons that may sew the material back together, they will never be able to omit the initial accident from happening.
I accept that I had something very special. I accept that I wasn’t ready for it when it showed up in my life. I accept that I didn’t know what I wanted from a relationship at the time. I accept that I needed to grow up a bit and shake off the fox totem, or gain a new animal spirit to help me move forward with the fox. I accept that there is nothing left in the shop, just a mixed market of memories. I accept that a friendship wasn’t able to be salvaged because too much hurt had happened. I accept myself and I accept her decision to close the deal. I accept that I left my business partner first. I accept that closure can take courage, and reopening anything that is already closed takes even more.
Today I took the train to a lovely building in Flatiron to have my first meeting with my first psychotherapist. Yay, I’m starting to take my life more seriously and take more responsibility. The holistic therapy group had just moved to the top floor of an exquisite and charming building on Broadway. The center is still undergoing renovations and I actually was the very first client to have a session in the new space. I walked into the new building, construction still in process but I was now on the inside of the renovation instead of looking from the outside. From the inside, I remembered that new spaces mean new memories and that I love the smell of fresh paint oozing with possibilities and potential.
My therapist walked over the taped plastic on the floor to shake my hand. He took me into his office, all white walls, without even a doorknob on the door, no blinds to cover the windows and fluorescent lights that haven't been replaced with a dimmer or something softer yet. I felt more naked and illuminated than I had in a while. Here I was, in a new building without the full privacy of a closing door, bright light shining in from above me and from outside and the only furniture in this completely white room were two white chairs.
For me and him, but really for me to start seeing me.