I have a strange sensation that I’m going to die today. Some sort of a natural disaster is going to take my life, and it’s not going to be singular or important in any fashion. I think I’m not only going to die, but I’m going to be one of those numbers people read about in the newspaper. You know, ‘today a city bus overturned on I-405, killing fifteen people and injuring several more’. My family will be devastated, as will my friends. People who knew me will pretend they were better friends than we actually ever were and I won’t be around to be disdainful. In a few years most people (other than my family) will feel slight twinges of sadness when they think of me but they won’t feel me in them.
How depressing is that? It’s horrible. I don’t know why I feel that I’m going to die today. It’s a perfectly normal Wednesday, it might be singular in that its one of those perfect, beautiful fall days where the sun is out and the leaves are changing colors. Other than that, there are hundreds of Wednesdays just like today.
Except, of course, this premonition of being on the precipice of my own mortality. Facing my own mediocrity down is hard enough as is, I don’t need imminent death to make me realize how utterly insignificant I am. I get it, Universe, I really do. I am alone in a huge city. This man that I am in love with, just like all the other men except that he is himself. This man is hundreds of miles away, just a sort of quiet distant voice at the end of a telephone. In the face of this feeling, I am supposed to say no. No I am doing the right thing having moved away from him, grappling with an overwhelming loneliness, a sensation of despair that seems to tinge everything I do. Peels me raw so that I have to find again the callousness that marked me for the last six years. But all of this is more important than being in love. Love is superfluous at best. People claim it is what makes life worthwhile but looking around at them I notice that most people live their lives in search of a few fleeting moments of perfection, and fill in the rest with inanity. We exist in this vacuous continuum of spinning our wheels and shouting out how important we are.
If I die today, if the earth opens up and swallows me whole, I will miss a lot of things. I will miss the feeling of safety I get when I’m laying on the couch in my parents house and my dad puts a blanket over me and brings me ice cream while we watch criminal movies. I will miss talking to my mom while we take walks at 7 in the morning, telling this woman my secrets because I know she loves me more than her own life, a love I have yet to understand. I will miss laughing with my sister until we are both crying. I will miss running with Ella, drinking with Amy and rating women in bars. I will miss the smell of a car heater when you are driving on a really cold night and the way hot chocolate curls up into your nose. I will miss the anonymity of existence. I will miss his sweet smile when he is about to fall asleep, when he forgets to wear the armor of daily life and he is just listening to me read him old poetry about hellish punishments.
I will miss my legs burning after I have been running for too long, excusing me from feeling imperfect because look; I have exercised until it hurts. I will miss the edge in his voice, the impatience in his look. The way nothing is ever good enough, the quiet comparisons in his head between his life now and his life then. I will miss the utter sadness that I get when I hear his hesitation, because I want so badly to not feel that in someone. I will miss saying goodbye to my grandma in the airport, crying together because neither of us knows if we will see each other ever again. I will miss the taste of coffee in the morning when no one is around and I don’t have to worry about my face being puffy or my legs not being shaved. I will miss hearing the pride in my dads voice when I tell him about my accomplishments, miss the feeling of being completely loved.
I will regret not having had children. I will regret not telling him that I would do anything for him, I would leave this program and finish closer to him, I would transfer to anywhere if he asked it. I will regret not telling Aaron that I loved him so much, that I wanted him to be my husband, and that when I realized that he would never live up to being the man I needed him to be my heart broke into ten million pieces because even I couldn’t love him enough to do that for him. I will regret not telling my sister that I forgave her, that I hoped she forgave me. I will regret not having told my parents how much I loved them, how much they inspired me to live my life with grace and compassion. I will regret not being honest with him, not telling him when he was pushing too much, being too cruel. I will regret not having found someone who saw me, loved me, wanted a life with me.
I will regret never having tried to become a writer. I will regret not calling Kathryn more, or emailing Annette back. I will regret not having gotten together with Maggie more often. I will regret the million and one times I sat in front of my mirror, sobbing until I couldn’t breathe, wishing against everything that I could take a knife and cut off my pieces of my body, I wish I could take back all those moments and revel in the incredible beauty of my limbs. I will regret the times I faked an orgasm instead of just admitting I wasn’t enjoying the night and asking the man to leave. I will regret the instances when I said “I love you” when I didn’t really mean it, just to appease the ego of an idiotic boy. More than that I will regret the times I didn’t say ‘I love you” when my whole heart was screaming it and my world needed to be ripped open by it but I held back because I was convinced that behaving that intensely would be ‘too much’ for the other person.
I will regret ever having felt that my intensity was something to apologize for. I will regret having toned myself down, explained away emotions, rationalized tears in silence, let myself get swept away by the bullshit rhetoric of a man who has lost the capacity to feel.
But, truth be told, I have felt this all before, on other days in other ways, and most likely the day will end and I will still be among the living. Thankfully, joyfully, among the living and I will have time to tell the ones I love what I need them to hear and time to not repeat those errors that I feel have lessened my soul.