First, just empty the overnight bag. It’s going to be put away for a little while. Or a long while. Hard to say when you’re in the heat of a losing battle with reality – a reality that steadily prods your soft parts and whispers that absolutely nothing in life is guaranteed. Not even the regular use of a trendy black bag containing replacement underwear and travel-sized shampoos. Your contract with life was written in disappearing ink.
Ha ha. Joke’s on you.
This opportunity to extract oneself should feel nothing but liberating, because at the top of your skull – the place Buddhists deem to be most sacred – this is where you always knew that your interests were never even close to marrying up with his. He of bullshit and imposter Buddhist exhortations.
But really, this is not a horrific car crash where one of us is walking away maimed.
You need to unpack. You need to be distracted from the sudden and unsavory change in your circulatory function.
Was there anything of consequence left at his house? The running joke was that you were always leaving earrings under the sofa- exactly where his kids could find them. Curse the resiliency that is the human spirit. Better off to have one’s first injury stay sliced open to fester, rather than endure what has just taken place: a tired rerun that saw you pressing ‘End’ on a conversation with a suddenly incomprehensible stranger. How do any of us hazard the chance to go through this more than once?
Is this really happening again? It’s not until particular words are spoken that you recall the heart to be housed in an elevator attached to cables that span the length of your body. This reminder only resurfaces at the moment you feel the encasement slam into your feet. A free fall triggered by a secret combination of words. A phenomenon that only ever comes when you don’t see it coming at all.
In the seconds following the one-way plummet, you begin to wonder if any effort at braking was ever applied to those supposedly reinforced cables. After all, you’ve been here before. This is not your first ride in the heart-trashing rodeo. But it would appear that the point is moot; only a Pollockian rendition of a shattered heart outline now holds court there in your heels. Sitting right there next to your Achilles tendon. It would appear that life is at least guaranteed a certain level of irony.
None of this gets any easier, the second and third time around. When you have been downsized in someone else’s world, you’ll still gravitate to places that no longer exist. It’s an impulse you’ll entertain at the expense of moving forward. You neglect yourself as your insides try to recover. Appetite, like the sense of smell, takes on a tertiary significance as hunger backs away as a vital need.
The elevator that you are certain lay splintered at your base has inexplicably regained its function – albeit imperfectly. Up and down you now feel it cycle as you step one foot in front of the other, day after day. Except every now and then you notice that it gets hung up in places where you’d rather it not linger. You wonder if your insides have gone permanently haywire. Much like the fictional contract with life, you realize that this vital organ comes with no replacement warranty in the case of eventual malfunction.
This is all for the best. On an intellectual level, you’re happy that he has decided to roll over and stare at other things. Other people. Other women who are clearly superior to you. Other women who will put up with his repellent love for 1990s Kid Rock and the canisters of Kodiak tobacco that he will leave in their cars. Your brain loves to loop through this story, but the problem is that it delivers this sermon from a place that is inaccessible to the heart. Your voice box serves a choke point impeding the elevator’s unobstructed passage, and it makes you feel as though your brain were the most useless and ineffective organ in the body. Almost as unreliable as the heart.
Like the physical need to eat and sleep, this fantastic mind of yours has ceased to appear useful in the daily conduct your new routine. The only activity commanding your attention right now radiates in that transient chamber in your chest. The heart thuds with a rumble that blocks out just about everything in your immediate surroundings. Your brain disapproves of being ignored. It continues with unpacking your toiletry bag, waiting for you to come to your senses.
It’s going to feel bad like this for a little while. The connection between the heart and the brain is the ego, and it takes some time for the two to get back in sync. Like the mediocre musician who always plucks the same three sets of chords, your heart must first have free reign to return time and time again to a sound you once interpreted as melody. This will continue until you one day discover that all of it really does sound horribly out of key. And you’ll wonder why you ever listened at all.
It will take an indeterminate and slow-moving number of days, weeks, and months before you suddenly fail to notice the jerky and irregular cadence that is now your heart’s beating norm. Slowly you’ll even forget that there’s any sort of elevator living inside your chest cavity at all – and this will be the discreet signal that you have at last recalibrated yourself. All of the stinging details will have faded.
Where did I put that stupid overnight bag? By now it’s been awhile, and life has no guarantees. It is with this dictum in mind that you return to your closet and stuff your black bag accordingly.
Get ready, tender heart, because we just might be going down again.