It isn't ideal, we had both agreed, that kind of behavior. A change is in order. It's time I picked up my naked heart from my sleeve, you told me, put your heart back where it belongs, safe behind bars like everybody else's, where the heart cannot stir up any more trouble. It's time I retired it, or put the old thing down, you told me, I'm too old to have heart. Get a job instead, you said.
I got by, instead. I learnt to rein it in instead of letting it all out, to text before calling, to ask before taking. To iron shirts for the morrow, and look up destinations on Google Maps before setting out. To talk boring but practical, rather than flowery and unrealistic. To listen, to listen and not respond, when you come to me with a conundrum, though I still have to fight off the urge to tell you it's no so bad instead, to tell you things will get better, or to suggest a way out. It's what I'd want. Still.
So I suppose, that in a way, this is growth. Laid out around me, cluttered but not in disarray, are things- real, tangible, physical things that will attest to my growth. There's a mug of coffee you would be proud of, and no rings under it either (though I forgot the coaster). There are three sharpened pencils, markers, nicorex, post-its, a brand new thesaurus, and- you won't believe this- a watch on my wrist. Zadie Smith's NW and Hanif Kureishi's Midnight All Day lie open, spreadeagled, next to each other, their pages a blur of marginalia and annotations, awaiting judgment, like lovers after a performance. I will not budge from my chair till their reviews are up on Pop Culture Namaha.
When you asked me, last night, why I don't sound like I love you anymore. When you cried into the phone because I didn't care enough to say no, that's not the case. When you hung up distraught because I wouldn't rise to the bait. Those, darling, like my Things and my Growth, are your creations too. The silence and the calm come with the sobriety and the solitude. I've even been waking up early to do those breathing exercises for my Asthma. I'm happier than I used to be, though not nearly as happy as we used to be.
Last night was a revelation, in that, uncharacteristically for you, you were caught wishing some of the Madness had grown back. You picked at and prodded, shook and squeezed, brought to your face and held against the light. You danced around my little heart-shaped box, rattled its cage, batted eyelids at and threw pennies in, teasing, provoking, willing it to come out and play, if only for a while, only to have it retreat deeper into its kindly new abode, collapse a little deeper into itself.
It enjoys the clinical click of the lock behind it less than you do, hates the hospital-smell of its walls more than you do. It tries to think of the numbness as a dietary compromise during a course of life-saving antibiotics. It's not pleasant, it's certainly not fun, but it persists, like a junkie in a program, willing it to run its course, to outrun its maker and nature and come back a better being, a nicer soul, a kinder brother, a better lover, a gentler friend, a good son, an honest man. It's a work in progress. It will take time, and there will be casualties, but we -us- will not be one of them. Time, maybe; youth, perhaps, or what's left of it; maybe you, and maybe, just maybe, maybe even lovelorn, addicted, me. Not Us. Not the two of us Together, not what we had and what we used to be- that we'll always have.
Icy Highs's Music Recco: Summertime Sadness, Lana Del Ray