the playbook

it was like i wrote you into being: life imitating art. our silhouettes bled into each other. your heart unclouded, warmth gone wild. when you left, i spent a week underwater. my eyes circled by rings of fire. i avoided our photos, quarantined what was left of your gifts. still i continued to break, seemingly triggered by each breath. eating seemed trivial despite my stomach whining so pitifully, you paused our last hug to tell me “you need to eat, darling.” my body wilting, craving only you.

how do you exorcise love? i run through the usual remedies: self-care, good company, puppies. but mostly, i suspect it’s time and distance. both of which are above my pay grade, so i give myself what little beauty i can. write out a menu of things to bring me joy, only to forsake them all for lack of appetite. i want to sequester this pain, bury it deep underground. i scrawl furiously through my journals, train myself to contain multitudes. i write “loved” as if he’s already over me, but love doesn’t leave the body so quickly. it dissipates slowly, like the ghost of a fragrance. approaching loss without disappearing.

by now, i’ve graduated from tears on tap to a dull cloud of gloom. i’ve returned to yoga, sing half-heartedly in the shower. take pleasure in whipping up kitchen magic. smile unprompted. eventually, i work myself up to playing “out of time” and marvel at how my stride doesn’t break. but there’s still the rest of that album, not to mention my hawaii playlist. the murakami novel i haven’t touched. flowers slowly dying by my window. verboten restaurants, swathes of the city where we went on marathon dates. waiting for this purge to end.

when at last, i put you to rest in my heart: wisdom will be closer to me than it’s been in awhile. i will stop inhaling sugar. dance like i’m firmly anchored in each moment. feel the stirrings of desire for new places and people. recognize that there is no shortage of love in my life. one day, i will reacquaint myself with hope like she never left.