I used to disappear on purpose. I’d lag back behind a crowd and wait to see how long it would take before he’d noticed I was gone. A few times I even ducked behind trees—and tried to blend into a landscape that was larger and more colorful than me.
When he’d make his way to the car, without hesitation, and without ever reaching for my hand, I’d pretend I lost him and act like nothing happened. Erasure is supposed to be subtle, but I watched myself disappear from his eyes piece by piece. My hands came first, my body last. I can’t remember when he no longer saw my tears, but I vividly recall the first day I no longer knew how to cry.
No one prepares you for the second time. It is always the first that holds our imaginations. Pure and magnificent, we are all masterminds of the dreams we pass on to our children. We are the leading actors of an ideal we will mourn when they too, cannot capture it. And finally, we will scorn them for it.
But there is no road map for the return to love. Redefining happiness takes a million miles and it is certainly messy business. In the beginning you spend all your time trying to pretend you aren’t scarred, beaten, and exhausted. And the day after, you spend all your time trying to explain why.
But then he loves you anyway. And it is in this place where the confusion comes. And you stay here a very very long time.
And then he loves you anyway.
The place where it no longer matters who you once were is lonely, scary, and freeing. Even your friends can’t exist here with you because they’ll pull you back, remind you of the poison you consumed every day, and when they aren’t looking, they’ll remind you of the poison you gave out. And they’ll validate it. It is for this reason most of us twitch, struggle, wiggle, and squirm ourselves into staying the same. It is for this reason we hide the wrinkles, camouflage the scars, and wipe away the blood until we are perfect again. And we are never told about how pure and magnificent we will be when the suffering stops.
I ordered my wedding dress yesterday without ever trying it on. I am uncertain how my thrice pregnant belly will look cloaked in off-white and beads, but I can’t bring myself to care, because it is too late for perfect. I no longer stay one place for long. There’s a million miles to travel now, and more suffering will surely begin tomorrow. But I no longer blend well into trees.