I often find myself writing about two things: you and God.
I find there is comfort in threes—for the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
I have also found how hard it is to scrub away traces of you from my prayers.
So I told him everything. Told him about all the things that still keep me up at night, told him about having someone new in my bed, about leaving them alone to chase dreams I do not have the energy to share. Told him about all the things I still write about—about all the paper I’ve marked with your memory.
The night was dark, and it was cold, and we were in a pub, and it was just another evening in the City of London.
That’s when he told me about the waves.
Spoke to me like I wasn’t a water sign; like it was okay to let them hurt.
“No one bothers to tell you about all the memories that’ll keep coming out of the blue like waves, no matter how much time has passed,” his words came between rounds of beer. “They’ll keep coming, tall and proud, and you won’t be able to stop them.”
I thought about the last 24 months, about the last two years. Thought about all the times I felt like I couldn’t keep my head over water, the water beneath my head. His words made sense, his words gave me breath again, because there wasn’t anything wrong with me. I wanted to tell him about all the times I tried to rip you out of my smile but ended up with scars covering my body, wanted to tell him about how the water did nothing to cleanse you away.
And that was okay.
The first time someone new asked me out after you left, I ghosted them.
I was doing okay. I was doing all right. The world kept on turning just like you told me it would. The sun came up every morning and went down every night. I even managed to mail back your shirt; managed to take your picture out of my wallet, took off your necklace, and laid to rest any hope I had left.
But the moment I heard you were dating, I found myself drowning in your holy water all over again. The wounds that still wonder why, weighed me down—I guess I must’ve forgotten them in my pockets. I was suddenly very aware of being surrounded by boys and girls, girls and boys, who were playing out the future I believed was ours; New York to London, London to New York, why them and not us, why not us and why them.
The second time someone new asked me out after you left, I wondered what was wrong with me.
“The funny thing is,” his blue eyes searched the underground pub’s darkness, “people think there’s an expiration date on heartbreak.”
Believe me, there isn’t.
Time doesn’t heal but it does numb.
“Like one year should’ve been enough,” I blurted out and he nodded like he understood. Like going through each season once should’ve been enough to erase everything we’d gone through. Like spending one anniversary alone should’ve been enough to wipe your fingerprints from my soul. Like I should’ve done something more to get out of living among the wreckage of our past.
“The waves will come and they will hurt, and that’s okay.” It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay. It’s okay that all this salt water has done nothing to baptize me in someone else’s name. It’s okay that I’m a water sign yet the water still hurts.
It’s okay that I’ve tried to wash down our memories with someone else, but failed to rinse my mouth of your name that so easily falls from my lips like a prayer every night.
The third time someone new asked me out after you left—well, it was me who did the asking out.
But this new-you is the wrong-you, and no matter how many times I fall on my knees, my heart never gets taken to heaven. Taking a pen to write about this wrong-you—this new-you—only translates into hair having the wrong shade of brown. The absence of dimples a reminder of how I kiss your ghost in the shadows of their smile. Sunday mornings are the closest to a miracle I’ll ever be, as I paint your face on theirs, tasting the skin my tongue and lips once worshipped.