More adventures of the paper heart

 When someone tells you that they are not in love with you and they are going to leave you, you should be appreciative. You don't have to say thank you, you really should not say thank you, but you should know that this is the best thing.

And you should be grateful that they told you this now, as opposed to later, and that they told you this before they went off and found somebody else, as opposed to after they'd already found somebody else. Assuming that this is correct.

Someone said this to me on Monday night. "I'm not in love with you, and while I think you're (positive adjective, positive adjective), I can't settle for being with someone I'm not in love with." It hurt like a blunt object to the forehead, but I knew enough to appreciate the honesty, the brevity.

Which is not to say I didn't act psycho because oh yes I did. For one hour, exactly. I turned over in bed and refused to speak. Then I cried because he was leaving me. Then I cried because I had left other people and I'm just now realizing how much I must have hurt them and I hate hurting people. Then I swore and got angry and told him not to touch me. Then I said, "why aren't you touching me?" And then I stormed out of the room to get a glass of water and then I slunk back in and curled up with him and fell asleep. I had just sailed through Elizabeth Keubler-Ross's five stages of grief in one go, and in the morning I felt just fine.

It wasn't that I was in love with him. I wasn't. I like him very, very, very, very much and I enjoyed every minute spent together. I was not left heartbroken when he left but I was left facing that awful question:  if he couldn't fall in love with me, well, why not?

And then you go on sort of a limping scavenger hunt into your psyche and you collect all of your flaws and you weigh them and sort them and you try and piece together an answer.

It's not an ideal way to spend an afternoon.

What's funny is that I've been dating someone for a while but didn't write about it on this blog, because I was afraid we'd break up before we really became official, and then we did break up before we really became official, and now I'm writing about it.

Saw Tooth

After the first artist, only the copyist
- Renny Russell 

For anyone who has a love that's returned, whose love is not spread out over mountains or poured into rivers, I envy you. I remember sleeping next to my buddy beneath the covers and and breathing in his smell of soap, detergent, sweat and dirt. Thinking that this one would last. That this was the smell I would inhale for the rest of my nights. Getting used to sleeping alone, with no one to throw an arm around in the middle of the night, legs kicking in space, my body curled into a useless crescent around a memory, this had taken some getting used to. But you adjust. There are your pillows to take the place, blankets, books to divert your attention, pills if you need them. But camping alone is the hardest. Alone in your tent, your back flat and rigid against the hard ground, feathers and nylon and foam protecting you from rocks and roots. You breath a white mist into the cold air, curling deeper into your sleeping bag. Trying to block out the dark, the quiet, the memories of a warm buddy next to you. Your ears are hyper sensitive to the sounds of clicking animals and cracking twigs, footprints, strangers, avalanches. And your exhausted heart keeps running over the well worn memories of your buddy lying next to you in a red sleeping bag. Resting your head on his chest as he wraps you in warmth.  Do you remember what it's like to be woken up to the sound of rock falling in the valley? You imagine the rocks gaining momentum, smashing into your tent. The whole hillside rolling away. You turn over and bury your face into his neck. "Just a rock fall," he says, not quite awake but still aware of your fear, kissing you on top of the head. Camping alone has been hard ever since I left my buddy. Keeping the fire going and running out the batteries in the lamp, rearranging the things inside the tent to try and fill the space.  But gradually its gotten easier just as everything gets easier. Think of a fire lulling down to coals. You become familiar with being just by yourself again. Looking after yourself. It does become bearable again.

So why did I go to Idaho, and be reminded? I got down on the ground and stirred at the embers and fed them pure oxygen. A glowing tent on a deep blue lake so far off the trail no one could ever find us. That splendid heart I once pretended to know. My buddy. His long arms that cast a flyfish reel in wide arcs and gutted the fish and folded me against him like origami.  Why pick at the scar that had come so close to healing, why, why, why.  I sat by the lake the morning of our second day in the Sawtooths, drinking coffee, knowing very simply that we would never be together. I know I love him beyond reason, I miss him more than any other person or thing on the planet.  I know that this is the very end, and, I guess, the time when everything starts over for me.