Exes in the inbox: Part 11

I've read it all back like a hundred times now, and I still don't know exactly what to think. But I know that this isn't fair. It's not okay for you to pop in and out of my inbox at your leisure without ever making time to listen to me.

I get that you're trying to apologize, and I also assume that you were probably drunk and this was all probably spurned by some tangible event that you haven't told me about, and something came to a head, and then you finally sat down in front of your keyboard. I get it. But if you were really sorry, if you really wanted what's best for me or for me to feel better, or wanted anything for me at all, you'd just leave me alone.

You have to see it from my side: regardless of whatever was actually going on with you, you have to remember that you never really told me about it. From my perspective, you are the guy who told me that you wanted nothing else than to see me again and that you wanted to be with me and that you loved me, and then just basically stopped talking to me for what seemed, to me, to be no reason. And all of this immediately followed two months in which you were my whole world, and then six weeks of me trying to figure out if you even wanted to hear from me because you never had the balls to tell me yourself that you didn't. So this is who you are to me, and now you've written me out of the blue, saying you're so sorry, and trying to explain everything that happened to you, but I have no idea how the fuck you've decided that you--you who behaved the way you did--get to be the one to unload all of this shit on me when I'm the one who should actually have the right to say anything.

Right now I'm sitting on the couch, in the living room, in New Orleans, and I'm sitting exactly where I was sitting last February when I told you that I could fly there, soon, within a couple of weeks, and you said to me that you "dont want [me] to come out here expecting things to be the same as they were." Have you ever thought about that? About how ridiculous you should have felt saying that to me? Your relative silence was the only clue I might have had to what I should and should not expect. The last time we had really spoken you told me "Fuck, dude, all I want is for you to be here. I miss your lips. I miss you. I'll message you when I wake up, like always." And then for weeks you apologized that you were so busy, but you assured me, repeatedly, that that was the only reason we weren't talking so much. No! Everything is fine! I miss you! I've joined a new band, and I'm at work, and I have bronchitis and something came up and something always came up. And I took you at your word, and it felt weird and wrong but I did it anyway. Tell me again about what I should have expected. Go ahead.

I get it. I see how easy all of this would be to rationalize when you weren't here to see me, because you missed seeing me cry for days in this very same New Orleanian living room, and you missed seeing me leaving on a long overland trek to Austin trying to figure out how I was going to try and forget you, and you missed the part where I bought a ticket to Panama hoping that it would work. And it did, it worked, and by the time I had made it up north to Costa Rica and got a job, I had managed to put you behind me. For the most part, anyway.

You messaged me once while I was in Seattle, "hey," you said, and it seemed so foreign and weird that the only reason I could think that you might be messaging me was that something was wrong, and so I asked you as much. You said you were fine, and we traded a few sentences, and then you went silent again. And I assume that you went off and did whatever the fuck it is that you do, but you should know that you left me in a heap on Jenna's couch wondering why you would do this to me, why, after all this time, you'd message me so casually like nothing had happened. I stayed on that couch for most of that day, and sometime that evening I texted my longtime-friend-turned-recent-lover and asked to borrow his car. In the morning, I went to Oregon.

This has always worked like a charm for me. Something goes wrong? Get on a plane. Some boy upsets me? Drive, drive, drive until you forget. But I'm here in NOLA until next month, and I just got back from Austin, and damned if I didn't already scan around for flights out of here--to anywhere--just to get away, for a few days, from this living room in which you keep breaking my heart from afar.

I just can't do this. You can apparently turn me on and off like a light switch, but I have a much harder time. I need you gone. I need you to never, ever contact me again with all of these candy coated apologies and thinly veiled attempts at letting you know you're still interested in me. You can't tell me those things! What do you think? That we're going to date or something? Oh, right. We're going to date each other; except that that's impossible. We're never going to be able to date each other, unless, of course, we go back in time to February when I could have come there. I could have come and stayed for months, and we could have figured out who we were together, but you declined, and that one shot is gone, and now we will never know because I can barely manage to talk to you let alone see you without falling apart all over again just knowing that we're not together. And we're two different nationalities, so let's just say, for shits and giggles, that we can--we can go back in time and date furiously and responsibly--then what? Where the fuck do you think this was headed when our passports bear the insignia of two different nations?

You don't get to have it back. Your great memories of me are gone? It's your own fault, and you don't deserve them, anyway. You fucked up, and you know it, and now you know that it was even worse for me than you thought, but regardless, you don't get to come back into my life and fucking ruin me just because you feel guilty. You don't get to change your memories of us because you acted like a goddamned child; you have to fucking live with it, and you don't get to decide when you're done with me. Make no mistake: you are done with me, because I can't continue on with my life and have it any other way. I can't have you in and out at your discretion; I need you to be one or the other, and nothing in between is ever going to work. At least, not any time near now.

Do you remember me speaking of Vanessa? She was my friend and floormate at The Disco, and she messaged me a bit ago wondering when I was coming back. I told her the end of spring, In November, maybe, just like last year. That's when I'd like to come. And it was easy, then, to think of returning because I had already divorced you from your hometown, but now you've resurfaced in my inbox with all of your lengthy misspelled bullshit and suddenly I don't want to come anywhere near there. And it sucks, because I love it there. And that. That is what you have ruined for me. And I don't know if I can ever forgive someone who made me not want to get on an airplane, let alone one to my favorite continent on earth.

You said, again, that you just wanted us both to be able to look on our time together positively, and I told you that "I meant everything I said and I always gave you the benefit of the doubt. I did everything right, and I feel fine. You don't because you didn't."

I should clarify.

I feel fine that we were together. Were. You in my past tense is just fine with me.

It's everything else I can't handle.

I just can't. I can't, I can't, I can't.

Not that you care about any of this, because you don't. Your reaching out, your shady apologies and your stupid stories were never about me anyway. This has all been about you, and what you've now decided that you need, and I'm just a little part of that. But you'll have to excuse me because the truth is that there's nothing you can say to me to make me believe that you don't deserve to feel every single pang that has crossed your heart of late, and honestly, right now, I don't really give a fuck how you feel.



Exes in the Inbox: Part 10.


When I left your house I sat in the car and we made the short drive from Beacon to SeaTac, but it seemed to take forever, and about halfway there I realized what was happening.

Why does this keep happening to me.

It's weird, Jenna, because if you would have asked me the day I arrived who would be dropping me off at the airport, I would not have answered correctly; I couldn't have even told you what day I'd be leaving. When I got to Seattle I assumed that the same person who picked me up, Woody, would be dropping me off; largely because I have spent years feeling entitled to his favor, years in which I've clipped my tongue around him to retain this favor. But then suddenly his bed didn't have the same allure it once had, and I realized that I no longer needed the security of knowing that somewhere, usually far away, he was always there and in love with me. I say this like I came to some kind of peace, like I had grown enough as an individual to not need this to validate myself, but I think we both know the truth, Jenna. I had just replaced him.

I know were not supposed to need this, I know. We're perfectly fine just the way we are. We're single and happy and thankfully now extricated from our former roles as some violent man's girlfriend, and that's supposed to be enough. So why, when it comes down to it, do we keep some boy just barely out of reach, but just close enough to be able to feel how desperately they want us?

And Jesus, Jenna. Look at me. I do this all over the world, and when relating stories of them I barely even bother to call them by name but rather call them by the city they live in. Brooklyn. Austin. Melbourne. Chicago. And of course I always have to have keep the mother of all back-burners in my fair hometown, and I call him Seattle. For years this was Woody. But you saw, Jenna. You know what happened. And it's crazy because I'm pretty sure Woody thinks that I broke it off with him for good because of the baby, but that's no big deal to me. Accidentally have a baby with some other woman in my absence? This isn't a deal breaker for me. Really, it doesn't even really enter into my decision making process at all in these matters. His consistent disrespect for my body and my opinions? This is what I simply don't have the patience to tolerate anymore. For years I haven't really noticed; it's fairly mild and somewhat infrequent, and coupled with the few days a year we spend together it was never too much to relinquish his adoration of me for. But after a week or so, when his missteps had already piled too high for me to ignore, I knew it was time to put and end to something I should have capped years and years ago.

You also know, Jenna, that this isn't to say that I never wanted him. Them.

I wanted Seattle. Maybe not for a lifetime, but I wanted him. And I took this title from Wood and re-granted it to him and I had him, and you saw it. And you saw how within a month I was so quick to let go of him for a single offense, and you watched while he went from my new favorite diversion to my new favorite ex. I just got back to New Orleans this morning from Texas, and it happened there, too! Austin said but a few cross words to me and it just stopped. The feeling--that fun, careless, whimsical feeling that I've always garnered from these boys--was gone. When I first arrived in my hometown I thought it was just Wood, but apparently I can't tolerate it from anyone anymore.

Seattle, New Seattle, messaged me about a week ago. I was asleep when he sent it, but I woke to find it, right there, my ex in my inbox saying: "Hey Miranda. I miss you." And it seemed so sweet and filled with longing that I wondered whether or not he was okay, and I asked him as much several times until he finally woke and related to me that he was just fine. But I asked because that's what I do; when I am feeling rejected or alone I reach out to one of these boys in one of these cities, and when they reply I hold this as proof of what I could have should I ever want it. Most days I don't want it. Without question. But some days Jenna, I wish I wanted it. So much so that I come very close sometimes to convincing myself that I do. But of course I would do this; it's just so much easier to mildly entertain someone you know you shouldn't want than to push aside feelings for someone you know you can't have, and since I left my hometown grappling with both I just chose to focus on the former. The latter is just too hard.

And I knew it was going to be. Halfway to the airport.

"Are you okay?" he asked me, and I think it might have been a few seconds since I had last taken a breath, and we were still only a few miles from your house, and we were just barely still inside Seattle city limits, and I turned to face him to say yes, yes I'm fine. And I looked at his profile framed by the drivers side window and the overcast sky outside, and I remembered laying in his bed just a couple of nights before, and, with his arm around me, he very simply and plainly told me: "This is nice." He meant it, Jenna, I know that. But I also know that I've said this to people while they reclined in my bed, and I know that I've said this when I think that I'm supposed to want them but don't; I've said it when I'm grasping at straws trying to make it work for me. And I'm not saying that this is how he feels, but it might be, and regardless of this he is too perfect for one of my boxes or nicknames, and these days, out on the road, I can't offer much more than that.

He dropped me off at United arrivals and I retrieved my backpack from his trunk. He hugged me goodbye and when we parted I walked through the automatic doors only to immediately realize that I had left my wallet in his car. My first thought was "oh my god, I'm going to miss my plane to San Francisco" and this thought was immediately followed by "well, if he doesn't come back I'll just go back to Jenna's house and book a new flight." I had just left your house but already missed you so much that this didn't seem entirely unreasonable, and without my phone, any money or any identification, I didn't have much choice anyway. But within a half hour or so I heard my name called behind me, and I turned to see his smiling face and my wallet in his hand, and then I had my second realization of the day: this is the most romantic thing that has ever happened to me. And it was. The very most. And I was oh my god, thankful, and wow, I thought I was going to miss my flight, and he was apparently all the way home before he saw my wallet in the front seat of his car. And then I ruined it, Jenna. If this had been a movie it would have been a sign, and I would have taken his hand and walked right back out the automatic doors, and the chill in the air and my own spontaneity would have rushed to my cheeks in a blush, and my fingers would have curled more tightly around his as we neared his car, and I might have even raised my opposite hand and placed it atop the one of his that I held. But instead, like all the nomads before me, I smiled and gripped his arm one last time, and then I turned and ran to check in for my flight to California.

And he hasn't really spoken to me since.

But then there's Seattle, whom I still talk to most days.

I finally admitted this fact to you a couple of days ago when I was in Texas and we spoke, and you told me you already knew.

"Did someone tell you, or did you figure it out like usual?" I asked, thinking that only about half of this question was a joke.

"You can call it a guess if it makes you more comfortable," you told me, "but you two are like magnets.   You're a love story. You just can't handle that you're not the deciders in love."

"We're not in love," I said, and you noted how quickly I had replied.

It seems like an important story, though: two nomads whom, after nearly ten years of friendship, find each other in the same city where they first met when they are both on their way somewhere else. I get it, I do. And if this were a movie then he would have begged for my forgiveness with some huge gesture, and I would have swooned and relented, and then we would have driven off into the sunset together. But no, Jenna. This isn't a movie, and instead we made up just enough to still be speaking, and then we both went our separate ways.

Why does this keep happening to me.

Don't worry Jenna, I can already hear you. Right now you are laughing that iconic laugh of yours and shaking your head to and fro, and when you have composed yourself you will repeat that question out loud, to yourself, but laden with sarcasm.

You know, and even I know, why this keeps happening to me. Good or bad, we are the results of our choices, and right now the choices that I've made recently have left me ideal for the boy I shouldn't want and anathema to the boy I can't have. I know this Jenna, but I'm not ready to change right now. And I wish I was.

But in these times, the meantimes, I will sit still in the south and I will miss you desperately, and I will continue to take my solace in some string of boys that I wish mattered, and you will continue to giggle at me from your perch on Beacon Hill.

That is, of course, until August when you can giggle at me in person, and I may just be forced to sort this all out.

I love and miss you.