I can’t eat chocolate cake anymore. I can’t watch the first season of Friends or listen to anything by Coldplay. I can’t watch it rain or feel sand under my toes. I can’t breathe.
It’s the little things that you remember the most. All of the things that you never really notice haunt you and it’s inescapable. I told him I hate him for ruining orchids for me. I told him I hate that I can’t seem to see past him long enough to get my bearings.
“Come with me,” he said.
“I can’t do that.”
I can’t go with him, but he won’t stay for me. He could stay, but he won’t because we were never really much of a priority.
I told him to stay every day for a month. I told him we’d shrivel if he went. We wouldn’t last. He said he needed to figure out what life should be for him. I could never get him to sit still for a minute. I couldn’t hold him. He was a bird and I was a tree with roots planted deep. He’d stay for a moment. He’d build something in me and call it his home, but he always left again with wings stretched wide and the most beautiful, vibrant mind. How could I make him stay?
He wanted to see it all. I just wanted to see our future play out in front of me like a flipbook. We had everything we needed, but he was so sure that there could be something out there that we could want and never have unless we went. He was a man of elusive dreams and our reality wasn’t big enough. It wasn’t sturdy enough to support him. I was never quite deep enough to hold him without him overflowing.
He brought me orchids. We drove along the coast one last time, blasting Coldplay through the stereo. We walked along the bleach until the sand became rain-stained and we ran laughing through the storm. We split half a chocolate cake on the couch of his apartment surrounded by boxes and suitcases, watching old reruns of Friends while I fought sleep and time and grief.
“Stay with me,” I told him. “Where are you even going to go?”
“Come with me.”
“I can’t do that.”
Our whole lives were here. We had a plan that he couldn’t stick to. He was too malleable. He shifted too quickly, he moved too fast. If I went, I’d chase him forever. I’ve stopped running and now I’d just like to catch my breath.