When You Walk Away

You owe it to yourself. See what’s out there for you in the world. Take a chance for once, but does it pay off? You’ll have to decide for yourself.

Nervous? Who wouldn’t be? You’ve never done anything like this before. All of your life you’ve played it safe. When other kids played kickball at recess, you sat in the shade. When your friends started breaking into their parent’s liquor cabinets, you were still trying to stomach the taste of coffee. When everyone else fell in love, you stayed at your parents’ house, clinging to your last hope that you might get a backsplash of that happiness.

So here you go. You’re leaving. New Job. New city. Maybe this will be it. The boyfriend, the apartment, the job, the dog. You could really get it all, but you won’t, won’t you?

Start off strong. Show up to work early, and work harder than everyone else there. Try to make friends. Try too hard and they’ll think you’re weird. Not hard enough and they’ll think you’re rude. The social interaction is too much for you. I understand that. Not everyone will.

You know that you’re a waste of a fresh start. You won’t change, not because you don’t want to but because you can’t. You’re not built that way, and you fight every minute to be a different person than who you are. I wish you wouldn’t.

You’re not a happy person. Moments are infinities in an anxious mind. Your life is tortuous in its longevity. You could tell others of the insufferable condition of being alive, but half of them wouldn’t understand you, and the other half wouldn’t care. You don’t know what’s worse.

Snap to your senses, acutely aware that you’ve not escaped yet. We are next to each other, but you’re beyond my reach. You’d never admit it, but that’s how you want it to be. You can’t know that you’re beautiful. If you did, you wouldn’t be this way. Or maybe you do know. You dismiss me when I decide to tell you. I wish you wouldn’t.

You lean against the door of my moving car. You look ready to hurl yourself onto the street at a moment’s notice. It’s easy to think I don’t see you when you’re in distress. I do. I always have. What do you want me to do?

You don’t like it if I say good things. Your heart can’t take more of the bad.

Do you remember when you tried to end it all? Nearly gone when I found you. That was only one try. You made me a promise, and you stuck to it. That doesn’t mean that you took care of yourself. I’ve seen your wrists. You say the marks are old scars, but I’m not naïve. Burns not cuts; they scab over, and then they look like scars when the scabs fall off. You did this recently.

Maybe I should say something, but that’s not what you want. I tell you how much you mean to me. You tug your sleeve down over your arm. Wrong move. You know I know.

Now you’re spiraling. If I can see it, who else can see right through you? You wonder whether strangers notice. You think about the pointed looks you’re given on a regular basis. You think about the coworker from your last job who took you by the bandaged hand and told you that he hoped to see you at work. You said you were confused when it happened, but we both know you weren’t.

Your thoughts are cut short. We have arrived at the train station. You take your bags from my car. You linger around me, wanting a hug but keeping up the pretense that you don’t want to be touched. You’re exhausting. I cave in and wrap my arms around you. You and I both know there’s a real possibility that this will be the last time. For you, the sadness of separation is a new feeling. For me, it’s the same emotion I feel every time I watch you walk away.

You don’t know just how valuable you are to the world. Sure, you mean a lot to me, but you don’t see the value in the moment. You don’t know that you smile a little when you think of something funny. You don’t see the adorable way you cover your mouth with your hand when you speak and eat, as if no one will see the mess you’ve made of yourself. You don’t know how the world does notice the good about you. I wish you could see more of the good in the world and in yourself.

You turn to leave. I watch you, hopeful that I may see you again. When you walk away, I can only repeat the same thought: I love you.

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