It started again because I slept with another guy I didn’t love.
His name is Juan and after we fucked we lay on the bed in silence, churning our thoughts in different languages — mine the English of Texas, his the Spanish of Buenos Aires. It’s harder to bridge the gap of a mutual looming nothingness in halting shared second-languages.
But I lay there and thought about you, babe. And I’m pretty sure he was thinking about a girl he had met in France and had to leave because student visas only last so long. I knew it when he rolled over on his side, his back to me, and I didn’t feel hurt. I felt like I understood because, hell, I wanted to do the same to him and all my half-baked lovers.
But I didn’t want him to suspect the weight I suddenly felt in my bones. I’m still surprised I didn’t sink the bed through the floor of his small apartment with the sudden gravity of it all.
This sudden deluge of being is something I’ve known for about two years now. The great sinking. The sads. Whatever euphemism I’ve fashioned to calm my fear about its return. On these days when I’ve just wrapped my hair in its post-shower towel and am suddenly leaning on the moist tile wall sobbing the code words for my depression don’t really help a lot.
It really didn’t mean anything to me that he never texted to make sure I got home all right. Truly, it doesn’t. I dug deeper, just like the workout video trainers tell you, and carried on. The next day my head was held high and I smiled and sang Feliz Cumpleaños at my coworkers birthday party and everything was wonderful.
But for some reason the lack of text stung and here I am crying at the shadows of flowers on my apartment wall, dying Valentine’s flowers from a man who is far away. I think I may have dug deeper too many times and I’m running out of self to dig into, am swimming in the shit I’ve tried to shovel out of myself for so long. Whenever it rains the mud streams back in, laughing at my try at Sisyphus
It comes down to the moment in the shower where you actually think “What is the actual point? What is there to gain?” and then you laugh at yourself because holy hell you certainly are an angsty twenty-something but you cry harder because laughing at yourself really doesn’t answer the question does it.
Some mornings I wake up and think today is the day. I have turned the corner and those shower, flower-shadow crying days are over. But most nights I know they’re not. Maybe today was good but they’re on the planner for next Thursday when too many men whistle at you on your way to work or when the emptiness of a beautiful cathedral reminds you that there used to be so much peace in those pews for you.
I don’t have any true words of comfort or inspiration for you, lost reader. I am left with the same tired hopes as you, but here you go anyways.
I hope you don’t have as many secrets as me. That you stop sleeping with strangers, unless that’s what helps.
I hope the wind touches your face in the way that makes you giggle a little. That maybe all the tiny little things that us folks with gravity-prone bones are so good at surviving on will appear to you in great numbers.
Like that one time a stranger from Colombia made you share a cab with him because he didn’t want to leave you at the bus stop alone with the wolves. Or the grass felt extra soft, even though it’s just the same old grass. The tacos a little tastier than usual, the coffee a little richer. A really good song about peaches.
I hope you remember the way your mom loved you when you were little and that she’ll love you that way her whole life. That wolves change the ways the rivers run and there are huge creatures under the sea — bigger than your fear — that eat only the tiniest plankton. That some people love each other their whole lives and it’s real and they’re not any different than you.
I hope you know you’re not the only one who cries at shadows and turns away from never-to-be lovers.
Elise Schmelzer is a student and a journalist living in Buenos Aires. When she’s not writing news articles about the newest sewer plan or most-recent suspicious death she likes to write about the scarier things. Originally from Austin, Texas, she will finish her studies in journalism, Spanish and Portuguese in 2016. She can be found on Twitter as @eliseschmelzer.