This morning I woke with a start — too hot, covers too heavy.
While I was busy BOILING, trying desperately to disentangle myself from pant legs wound round and round my lower extremities, my yanked-from-sleep thoughts clicked into consciousness. Awareness coursed through my body, icy cold. I kicked my feet free and froze. No time to duck: that was my college boyfriend I’d been dreaming about.
And today, January 1, was/is his birthday. Four years later, and the guy STILL manages to sneak into my subconscious. Still manages to give me goose bumps.
This is not exactly how you’d want to begin a new year, now is it?
But it’s okay. I didn’t feel flooded with feeling for too long. This morning’s total body jolt only caused my brain to short-circuit for 30 seconds or so.
Good guy. GREAT guy. Love of your life, once, or so you thought. New girlfriend now. But it didn’t hurt, when you knew. It took you a little long to move on, but you did. You finally knew closure, the way you know it now.
I was out of bed and brushing my teeth by the time I thought: boy, I do not miss those months. Those months of hardening my resolve — of telling myself we’d done the right thing, of stopping just short of bribing myself to really let him go (the way he’d evidently let go of me). And then the many months more, spent slowly softening my heart for someone else. For the someday I wasn’t sure would ever come.
The strength of first love still makes me marvel, but I don’t ache for him anymore. It helped to scissor-snip him from my life a while ago, when I discovered it was vaguely voyeur-like to remain connected on social media. I don’t care what the Internet says; we should be choosy about who we surround ourselves with. Online and in real life.
Anyway, seeing as the two of us were growing apart even when we were still helplessly intertwined, we are surely two even more entirely different people now. Or I am, anyway. I know I am.
I thought a lot about that today, while I was eating my oatmeal for breakfast. I’m not the girl I was when I went off to college and fell for that sandy-haired boy. I’m not the girl I was when I graduated and fell in love for a second time, and spent a year flying back and forth to Europe, wishing the Atlantic Ocean should either shrink in size or evaporate altogether. (Pretty please, s’il vous plait.) I’m not the woman I became when I lived in my very own shoebox, in downtown Manhattan. I’m not even the same person who moved out west and suffered sort of a major setback, just six short months ago.
This morning I lay on my yoga mat with languid limbs, not slipping into Savasana as easily as I sometimes do. I lay there thinking I’d probably spent the night rooting around for old love because yesterday I’d written about feeling lonely. I am lonely. I am so lonely, I cannot tell you.
You would tell me not to worry too much about it, wouldn’t you? That I am still falling in love with myself, and the rest will come. That “someday” will almost absolutely come around again.
And I will be better able to both offer and accept unconditional love, when that day comes. No one will ever again be able to accuse me of attempting to fulfill a self-love deficit. And then maybe I won’t find that I’d really only like to share a day hike or an occasional dinner out. Maybe I will find that I would like to share my life. All of my life. For my entire life.
It will be so clear; it will be so different.
And you’d tell me this, too: that there is still so much reveling to be done, in the here and now. While I’m still learning how to shower myself with love. You’d tell me that I shouldn’t rush this part. That I should take the extra time to rub lotion on my legs. Learn how to sear my steak just the way I like it. Pick out something positive to say, every single time I look in the mirror.
I should keep feeding myself carefully, thoughtfully, regularly. And I should continue talking to myself the way I have been — kindly, gently, softly. Patiently.
You’d tell me what I’m missing is not romantic love. Not really, not yet. You’d tell me what I’m really missing is family and friends nearby. And you’d be right.
You’d tell me this is a special, special time — this business of learning to depend on nobody but myself. You’d be right again. You’re right, you’re right, you’re right.