A year ago I was in a very bad, no good, dark pit of despair kind of place. I'd been there for much of the year.
For most of the year I'd been waiting and wanting and hoping that B would decide that actually, despite our past ups and downs, he wanted to be with me. He was unsure, he was angry, and on some level, I think he was just plain vindictively enjoying the power seat. And the more he didn't know, the more insecure and miserable I was.
A year ago is when, for self-preservation, I walked away.
There were days last year where I ached so much that I was certain that at some point I'd die of ache. Can you ache to death? Ache yourself into a little grease spot on the carpet?
There were days - plenty of them - where all I did was cry. There were times that I cried so hard that I was pretty sure I was empty. Like, I wouldn't have been surprised to look down and notice my internal organs suddenly clinging to the front of my body. Because I'd turned myself inside out.
I couldn't tell you the day I stopped crying. Although I do think it was like a switch that flipped; I don't think I tapered down. You'd think it might be a day I'd circle on the calendar - but I couldn't begin to tell you when it happened.
I missed him. It's not that I didn't miss him. It just stopped being debilitating.
And you know, in April, when my dad tried to commit suicide, my first instinct was to call B. Because he was there the last time. Because that last time, when I called, he arrived immediately and without hesitation. Because he picked me up, body and soul, and carried me through it. Some guys would bail; he loved me all the more. Nobody has ever, ever been there for me like that.
I did call him this April; I had a desperate need to talk to him about all of it. And then I saw him, and he said of course I could have called him; of course he would have come. I believe him. We hugged goodbye and he said to let him know if I needed him - he'd be there. And I believe that, too. But I can't need him again.
Perhaps if I hadn't been so caught up in what was going on in my family, or so physically exhausted by everything, I might have dwelt more on B, the lack of him in my life. So it's lucky I was too busy to do so. And then I met the Director, who was the perfect person at the perfect time, and to whom I will always be grateful.
So spring went by, and then summer. I would be lying if I said I didn't wonder how B was, or occasionally dread the possibility of running into him on a bad day. Of course I did. But not every minute, not every day.
Then a couple weeks ago, I ran into him. He flinched, ever so briefly. The walls went up in his eyes. Both were inadvertent, immediate and almost imperceptible, and if I weren't someone who notices or if I didn't know him so well, I might've missed them.
I just smiled. I was genuinely delighted to see him. I want to know how he is, but can't know, unless I run into him. I can't say I didn't get stomach nervous, because of course I did. We chitchatted briefly. Our conversation was cut short by the arrival of his friends. And so we exchanged pleasantries, said goodbye.
And it was OK. Nice, even. I didn't run home to cry. Or even ache. I thought about him a bit, but not terribly much.
A week went by. And then on a Friday evening, as I was packing up to leave the office, my cell phone rang. And it was my turn to flinch. A number long deleted, but one I could recite in my sleep.
He'd lost his keys, and had spares of all but the mailbox one. Which he'd have to have re-keyed, unless I still had a set. Did I? Unfortunately, no, I no longer do.
And then we chatted. About his work, his family. I caught him up on my trip to England, Maude, other friends of mine he used to like. Overhearing us, you'd have thought we were old friends. I know because I asked a colleague how I sounded. Normal. Totally normal.
Keys are a totally legitimate reason to call. So it was fine. Unhelpful, but fine.
And so I suppose the point of my meandering examination of this is as follows: Time makes all the difference. A year ago, I'd have told you with all certainty that I wouldn't recover. One of my closest friends told me the other day she was afraid I never would.
A year ago, I'd have been flattened by the chance meeting. I'd have tried to make the phone call into more than it was. I'd have believed he was giving me hope. I'd most certainly have cried.
And now, a year later, I can say I've learned the following. Time is extraordinarily helpful. So is distance. Perspective, when you're immersed in something, is impossible. And you actually can hurt someone so much that even if they still love you, they will never, ever let you back in.
Thanks to Tennessee Williams for the title. And apologies if you were like, oh, god, actually, the longest distance between two places is between the start and the end of this eternal post...