The first thing I felt like I lost when we were over was my voice. I didn’t talk to her anymore. It wasn’t that I couldn’t, it was that I didn’t want to. Love, between us, had been about sharing, about telling, about admitting. So when she finally told me that she didn’t want to have to love me anymore, I knew that what I was losing wasn’t her, but the comfort of thinking I had her, and, with that, the simple pleasure that came from just talking to her.
Being on my own quickly left me with much more time by myself. My thoughts, my internal conversations, my small daily experiences, were mine and only mine. With her, if I thought of something funny, I could share it. If something bad happened at home or at work, I had someone to tell, to ask for comfort from. It was validating, to have someone to whom I could recount my days. Events felt more important, memories were rosier, there was more there, everywhere, all from bouncing it off of her. Things became easier to bear if she knew about them. They became more real. Our time together was better knowing that she was thinking of it too: in reflection, anticipation, imagination.
What left me wishing she wouldn’t end it (even when I knew she would, even when I considered doing it myself) was the fear that without her, I would have nothing more to say. Nothing to say to her, and nothing to say to anyone else either.
Even when we hated each other, she could call me about how stressed she was, and I could could tell her I needed something, anything, to keep the day from getting any worse.
Even when we were miserable, I could text her when something made me smile, and she could anxiously report that she had finally cried about her grandfather’s death.
When it was over, and we couldn’t be miserable and we couldn’t hate each other, because there no longer was a “we” to the two of us, I had already known for months that despite my best efforts to strengthen my friendships with other people, to make them the most important things in my life, no exchange with any of my friends could mimic the easiness, the obviousness of filling her in on what was going on with me.
As much as they all cared, I had never fooled myself into thinking they were concerned with my day to day worries, wonders, or whims. My mistake, of course, had been telling myself and allowing her to tell me that she really was that concerned with, that invested in, that interested in me.
So this trick that we had played on me fell through, and the realization that everything I had ever given to her and told her and asked of her had been too much, it crashed over me well enough in advance that I stopped giving, sharing, asking, or admitting.
No one wanted to listen to me. so I had nothing to say. And whenever I found myself with some small tidbit I once would have rushed to tell her, I had no one to whom I could bounce it off.
My communications with her, with anyone, had once like echolocation letting a bat find what it needs and telling itself that, yes, it really is there with everything else around it. My texts, my calls, my emails, my voice - they had all been the hand you immediately reach out to place on the wall beside you when the lights go dark, telling you where the wall is, but also telling you that you are still there with that wall. Slowly, my voice became much more like sonar sent down into an abyss.
What do you do with sonar that won’t come back to you, that won’t reflect back to its origin and offer a hand to steady you in the dark?
You turn it off.
At least I know that I was lonelier trying to talk to her then than I am talking to myself now.
Georgina Coffey is a soon-to-be student of Emerson College’s Writing, Literature, and Publishing program. She enjoys creative nonfiction and works for Richmond Shakespeare/Henley Street Theatre as a stage manager. Find her amalgamation of essential inconsequentialities and other things to be appreciated at earlofgray.tumblr.com.
Georgina takes classes with Valley.