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.


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