Note: I joined M in a WriteNovember challenge, and may be posting some of those here.
Over time I’ve realized I enjoy editing more than writing. I like working with something already crafted, even if “crafted” is being generous. Crossing out extraneous words and phrases is energizing. Have you ever felt the rush of reorganizing an essay or paper? Especially when you know you got it right? I’m not saying it’s better than multiple orgasms, but you don’t get to see orgasms in print, either.
Still, I read others’ work and yearn for the days when my turns of phrase landed as beautifully as do theirs. It’s like getting back into running after taking some months, or years, off. The first few months back are laborious and awkward and painful. Eventually, with variation in route and a reasonably set schedule, I fall back into my stride.
So in the quiet hours, I write for me. At times, the audience I imagine drives my fingers to type faster, and wittier, but usually it’s just me, and I wonder when that changed. I strain to recall who it was I used to write for, and come up blank, but there must have been someone. It’s possible it was Nathan.
I’d weave sophomoric tales of rekindled love between us after some time apart. I would have long, sunset yellow hair and a trim frame; he’d have grown more rugged-looking and handsome over the years. I’d be angry at his silence, and he’d give me his excellent reasons for his distance. Our eyes would meet and it’d be like all that time never passed.
There was a point in time where whatever I wrote down, in terms of my romantic fantasies, seemed to come true. That was the case for Nathan and I, at least. Countless stories I sketched out, though only a few I saw through to the end, and those handful in their own ways came to pass. The ending I imagined for us, and never wrote down, didn’t. We fell off the way many of those tales closed: in ambiguity, an uncertain future ahead.
I’m tempted to write a denouement to the last exclusive yarn that spun for me. It’s been nearly a year since it was over. I’ll be hard, but remorseful and tender. He’ll be rightfully standoffish. I’ll get angry at his response and remind him his selfishness and immaturity were what caused the split after I demanded some accountability. And he’ll ask me to reexamine my actions. I’ll apologize, and he will, and we’ll share the meal we were supposed to once. It will be fun and delightful and we won’t drink too, too much. We might even kiss. There will likely be confessions of feelings and thoughts held back. I will be vulnerable in ways I was not able to and will honor his in ways I know I did. We will delight in each other’s company and look wistfully at what might have been when I remind him that I live in Denver, now. And maybe we’ll explore the idea of a long-distance relationship. But he is not ready for that, and we have so much more to build before we could get to that point. Half a country isn’t upstate NY to NYC, after all. We’ll say goodnight, or maybe we won’t, but the next morning I will be on a plane back home, and every once in awhile we will check in on each other. Best yet, I will be able to read his work again.
The one who came before him is more difficult. What I’d like most of all is to know he still pines for me. That he is miserable and it is his own doing. “The freckles on your chest are the stars in my night sky,” he told me, once. I read none of his text messages after he dumped me by email so as not to dwell. It made moving beyond him so much easier. Still, in my wildest daydreams he somehow found out when my grandmother was ill and showed up at her door, to my deep dismay and eventual relief. I never wrote that down, and it never came to pass. I forgot, until some time after my grandmother died, that I’d even daydreamed that. When I remembered, I was disappointed he hadn’t been there. I’d keep our ending short and sweet. He runs into me at some event, somewhere. He’s taken by surprise, but of course, I am not. I am beautiful and tidy and wearing the scarf he once gave me as a gift. I barely acknowledge his presence; it’s very Mariah’s, “I don’t know her.” Pain pours from his face and eyes and my features are neutral but cold. I excuse myself into the night, somewhere better to be, contentment and purpose in front of, and guiding me.