Re­mem­ber­ing to Let Go

Hello Mr. Magazine - - REMEMBERING TO LET GO - Text by Adam Po­laski Illustration by Al­fonso Casas

I make my way to my front door to let you into my apart­ment, and as I do, it dawns on me that the last time you were here was the very first day I moved to this city.

You greeted me at 9am and hauled my first­time-on-my-own liv­ing sup­plies up to the tenth floor. You served as my mom’s first mate on the S.S. Build This Fuck­ing Ikea Bed, grit­ting your teeth as she protested your de­ci­sion to not use ev­ery sin­gle screw in the bag. You con­grat­u­lated me on my suc­cess­ful move-in later that night by kiss­ing me hard on the lips and rub­bing my back, smiling at how awe­some it was to have me just eight blocks north of you.

I open the door and see that you look way more awk­ward than you looked that day – you’ve got a half smile on your face and you’re biting your lip and your hands are in your pock­ets, dis­ap­pointed that I didn’t just leave you out­side wait­ing for­ever.

It’s been six months since you ended things. Six months since I spent the night pray­ing on your bath­room floor as I scram­bled for a plan to keep you as mine. Six months since I be­gan to ac­cept that there would be no rec­on­cil­i­a­tion for us – no epi­logue where you chase af­ter me in an air­port and ad­mon­ish your­self for fool­ishly break­ing my heart. Six months since I be­gan my bit­ter and an­gry and de­press­ing jour­ney apart from you.

You step into my room, and we clum­sily hug. You sit at the foot of my bed, and we make small talk: How are things? and How was va­ca­tion? and It was re­ally nice thank you for ask­ing how are you? and How ex­cit­ing for your brother!

Small talk be­comes tiny talk. I joke about how much cleaner my room is than yours. You ask me about my room­mates, their dog, the weather, what I had for din­ner that night, how many times I sweep my floor each week.

And then, with­out tran­si­tion, we en­ter Big Talk: Talk where I apol­o­gize for be­ing so silent over the past few months, where you ad­mit that it was best for us to take some time apart, where we con­fess that we both prob­a­bly tried too hard to force the re­cov­ery.

I tell you how mad it made me when you would for­get our plans – plans that we made well in

ad­vance, plans that we’d con­firm that morn­ing, plans that were our only tac­tic to­ward pre­serv­ing our­selves as “friends.”

I tell you that I hate your new boyfriend, who’s no longer new. That it’s not your fault, but that I will prob­a­bly al­ways hate him. That I don’t want to talk about your boyfriend or pre­tend to be happy that you’re so happy with your new life.

I tell you that I’ve had anx­i­ety dreams about only hav­ing sex with guys I rate one or two stars on OK Cupid for the rest of my life – in Big Talk, there are no se­crets.

I apol­o­gize for not be­ing ready. For not be­ing able to just be friends again. For find­ing it im­pos­si­ble to sus­pend the melo­dra­mat­ics or give you a break or move the fuck on.

I apol­o­gize for many things – but not for ev­ery­thing. I ex­plain that I can’t be your best friend. That we’ll have to set­tle for “friends” or “friendly” – just regular peo­ple who talk pol­i­tics and watch movies and go to bars and some­times Gchat each other to stay con­nected. For now.

I know that I have ad­mit­ted de­feat by telling you that I still need you. That I am so scared that the man who was the most im­por­tant thing for so long could sim­ply van­ish en­tirely, di­vorce him­self from my life and spoil my mem­o­ries and make them cold and dead and turn them into re­grets.

That I tried to let you go, but that I self­ishly still want a part of you for my­self. Be­cause I miss you. You look at me for a minute. A long minute, where nei­ther of us say any­thing. Your eyes be­gin to trickle, and you bend your neck back, ex­am­in­ing my ceil­ing and snif­fling your tears and sigh­ing the world’s long­est sigh of re­lief.

You say that you hated not be­ing able to talk to me, not hav­ing me around. You say that you were not try­ing to cut me out of your life. You say that you hate see­ing me up­set. That you are sorry. That you want part of me for your­self, too.

We have left marks on each other, and I know that what­ever those marks are – im­prints, bruises, prob­a­bly a few hick­ies – they’ll never re­ally fade. They’ll never re­ally dis­ap­pear from our skin and our minds and our hearts.

We hug good­bye, and it is a very long hug. “It’s nice to see you,” I say, and I feel your head nod­ding against my cheek.

I feel lighter, but I am also hop­ing that you will leave me very, very soon. I am afraid that if I hug you for one sec­ond longer I will fall into the im­prints and the bruises and the hick­ies, and they will swal­low me whole.

I say good­bye to you at the door, re­turn­ing to my bed­room and pre­par­ing to let you go, ready for the Big Talk to work its magic.

I lie down and close my eyes. I’m telling my­self that we are done. I’m re­as­sur­ing my­self that this is good. I’m ac­cept­ing that this is over.

And I am try­ing to re­sist. But I am let­ting down my guard. And I am re­mem­ber­ing.

I’m re­mem­ber­ing you kiss­ing me hard. I’m re­mem­ber­ing you rub­bing my back. I’m re­mem­ber­ing how amaz­ing we were. I’m let­ting the mem­o­ries wash over me. I’m al­low­ing them to flood my mind and in­tox­i­cate my heart and threaten my re­al­ity.

I’m re­mem­ber­ing, and I’m re­mem­ber­ing, and I’m sur­ren­der­ing, and I’m giv­ing in, and I’m cav­ing in, and I’m let­ting go, and I’m let­ting go, and I’m done.

And I am real­iz­ing that I have let go of so much, and I am still left with ev­ery­thing.

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