as soon as i graduated high school, i started leaving people. the week i graduated, i packed a bag and left behind all the people who i figured didn’t care anyway. who would be sad to see me go? it was not something that ever occurred to me would happen much less was it something i would worry about.
four years later i did it again. i left behind everyone i knew without a second thought. i mean, i wrote down their addresses (it was the nineties) and later checked on them in social media when that became a thing, but i once again left assuming no one would miss me.
i don’t even know how many times i did it throughout the nineties and into the next century. i would pack up a car with all my stuff and maybe a dog or two and just take off. to kentucky. to georgia. to texas. to colorado. to illinois. and finally to wisconsin. i would write down addresses and phone numbers and have some drinks and. just. go.
no second thoughts. these boots are made for walking. born to run. i didn’t believe i had made an impact or that there would be any tears shed. i just went forward, no looking back.
i landed in viroqua by accident even though she lived there. i met her while i was in madison and she was visiting. i must’ve given her my phone number because she kept in touch after she went back to chicago. she kept in touch as i went from madison to manitowoc to illinois. she would call me up and i would listen to her rants while wondering why she was calling me.
i never really trusted her.
i never really trusted anyone who seemed to like me.
to paraphrase groucho marx, it was difficult for me to trust any club that would have me as a member.
then i got kicked out of illinois and needed a new place to land.
i tried to go anywhere but viroqua.
i’m not sure why i had such a block against living near her, but i did. maybe i was afraid of commitment. maybe i still wondered what she wanted from me. maybe i just did not understand what friendship was and dreaded swimming in those treacherous waters.
but fate intervened, and i landed in viroqua.
where i became a reluctant friend.
i kept pushing her away. even though we spent so much time together that we joked we were a blended family, i was often phoning in my friendship. i kept a laundry list of why i didn’t want to be friends with her. i kept score of all the mistakes she made while i reluctantly admitted ways she was there for me. i seemed to delight in any new evidence to prove to myself that she was a lousy friend. i couldn’t wait for the day that she tired of viroqua and moved away. like me, she didn’t seem to stay put. unlike me, she didn’t want to make small town wisconsin her home. it was only a matter of time before she left me in peace.
then the scales tipped and i finally had definitive proof that she was a terrible friend. i could justify not only pushing her away, but shoving her—hard—and closing the door behind her.
by the time i decided to give her another chance, she had moved on. she had left me for someone else. not just a new friend, but a boyfriend—one whom i had not lost any love for. the chasm between us grew deeper and longer.
she and the detestable boyfriend started planning to move away from viroqua, and i was all, “good riddance.”
for many years i have been working on healing my damage. this involves, surprise, letting people matter to me. letting people into my heart.
it’s not easy. it’s not like i can just set my heart out to thaw in the warm sunshine.
it’s more like i take my heart out of the freezer, then i start to worry about bacteria and spoiled meat, and what happens if no one is in the mood for heart? so i put it back in the freezer.
it’s been a long process.
despite my fears, my heart has begun to thaw. so now all of a sudden i realize i do want a friend. so now all of a sudden i realize i do love her and value her.
i didn’t think she’d really go.
then she dropped on me, casually, that the house closing is not even two weeks away.
the house closing.
on the house she and the despicable boyfriend bought.
like my dog who got hit by a car right after i learned to love him…she bought a house three states away just when i realized i was able to let a friend into my heart.
just when i admitted to myself that i don’t want her to go.
my newly thawed heart broke.
i guess i should have seen that coming. after so many times of half-assedly thawing it before throwing it back in the freezer, how strong could it be? turns out it’s pretty easy to break a damaged heart.
it’s not like in the movies where i can just admit that i need her and that i don’t her to go…and she stays.
it’s not like she will change her mind and come back to me just because i have realized that i don’t want to lose her. just because i have realized how much she means to me.
she’s not going to leave the deplorable boyfriend at a rest area and run into my arms.
i’m alone again. broken-hearted despite years of trying not to get my heart broken.
isn’t it ironic.
up top: “follow your song” 9X12 mixed media on watercolor paper…$75