A friend once told me that love is a spectrum, and while I am not as close to that friend as I was when they said it, the phrase is something I find myself coming back to time and time again. Relationships are funny, I read a tweet earlier today that said “We went through all that only to end up as strangers again” and it struck me. I thought of my past romantic relationships, or lack thereof, and how the closest thing I have to an ex is again a stranger to me. We went through all that only to end up as strangers again. There is something about the ‘again’ in that sentence I find the most haunting. It is one thing to ‘end up as strangers’ and even by that phrasing the again is implied, but there is something about having it there; right in front of your face- again. Suffice it to say my last, and only, ‘relationship’ wasn’t an amazing love affair. I sold myself short and got the short end of the stick for it, but, as they say in France, “C’est la vie.” The point remains anyway; relationships: good or bad are still some kind of ordeal. The word ‘ordeal’ has such a heavy implication, but I don’t think that makes it less true.
Relationships (romantic or not) are nothing short of ordeals. We exist in time and space and then, as Lana Del Rey once crooned, by mistake or design we cross paths with someone else. I don’t mean for the whole thing to sound cosmic and ‘woo-woo’ but isn’t it? One day you’re sitting at a coffee shop or poking in answers to a Buzzfeed quiz on your phone and then suddenly you’ve been entered. Your life is different, you build a connection and from there a relationship. A relationship that may last weeks, months, even years and you might come out of that as strangers…again. I think a lot of people fear that, falling out of love. People talk about it all the time, the insurmountable fear that one day someone you’ve built a foundation with will up and leave- decide they’re just not in love with you anymore. Do we ever fear ourselves, I wonder? The fear we are too fickle, that one day we will get up and find the shoes we used to wear everyday just don’t fit anymore- that comfortable snugness now feels cramped. I am sure someone out there wonders it. Which fear is worse? The fear of being abandoned or the fear that one day it just won’t feel as good as it used to? You might watch your partner become a stranger, but you might find, one day, you don’t recognize yourself either. Like I said, I wonder which is worse. After my pseudo-relationship came to an end I wrote about it, the typical angsty and melancholy prose that follows a break-up. I remember in one of the pieces I wrote, titled ‘Forest for the Trees’ I reference a conversation I’d had with my ex wherein I’d told him, well asked him, if he thought of me as collateral damage. I asked him if hurting me was just something that had to happen for him to get what he wanted. He never gave me an answer I wanted, but he didn’t need to. That’s one of those questions that can only be asked when you already know the answer. But we are talking about a poem right now, let’s not get sidetracked. So in this poem, I am writing from my own point of view discussing things I’d like to tell my ex; knowing all that I know now. It begins with the following stanza:
“I know that in this car wreck we call a relationship
I’m just the collateral damage
I’m the tree you ran into when you swerved left”
and it ends with this one:
“Now we’re here
Broken and bent
Impaled and hurt Folded against one another
Next time keep your car on the road
I wish you would have just driven by and left me where I was In the forest”
Revisiting that poem makes me revisit that pain, but I also notice something. At the end, my ex and I, we aren’t strangers anymore. We are something else, we are something worse. We are corpses. We hold a kind of dead and careless intimacy that can only come from lifelessness. Our bodies are stacked on top of each other with a crude and unnatural indifference, what we are, what we become is worse than strangers. We know ourselves and in that knowing is the knowledge of who we used to be and who we’ve become, which is ugly. Grotesque even. “I wish you would have just driven by and left me where I was in the forest” the only thing I can imagine worse than becoming strangers again is wishing to be. It answers the timeless question, you know the one, about love and loss? I pick to have never loved at all.
Anyway, we’ve come a decent way into this piece and none of it is what I set out to right- I suppose writing, like all art, is funny that way. Intention doesn’t always matter. The point of this piece was to write about love as a spectrum and eventually I will write about that, just not today.
Thank you for being here.