more than a year after our devastating, drawn-out breakup. More than a year and a half from the time he had said, “I think we should take a break,” the words that began the slow, painful unraveling of our tumultuous relationship. Nine months or so into a much healthier, productive, loving relationship with a gentle man who would prove to love me unconditionally.
But my heart was still bruised.
Or maybe it was scarred. Or maybe it suffered from internal bleeding.
Either way, on this particular day, walking from the subway to teach a dance class, limping a bit because of a puzzling foot injury, I listened to this song yet again inside of my big, fat DJ headphones. It had been on repeat in my ears, each time bringing back the memory of him, of us. Something about the sentiment of the song, coupled with its ultra-sincere acapella intro, cut straight to my heart. I couldn’t turn it off.
Did I miss him? I didn’t know. Did I still love him? Probably. I wouldn’t ever stop loving him, but the same goes for any number of other men who I had loved and lost. But for some reason this song brings back all of the hurt, compiled into one 3-minute and 11-second rhythmic experience. I remember how terrible it felt to know he was never certain about his feelings for me. I remember how much I loved him, but how the whole relationship felt so uneven. I remember how cold he could be and how lonely I could feel next to him. I remember screaming and crying and begging him not to do this, not to leave me after 2 years, not to give up. These thoughts are always followed by regret that I didn’t see how I deserved better, how I spent so much time hoping things would improve, how I was never truly happy.
So there I am, limping with a throbbing pain in my left foot and the left side of my chest cavity, avoiding eye contact with everyone on the street because I’m certain if I catch anyone’s eye, I will cry. I open the door to the studio where I was to teach that afternoon and hobble in. Two of my co-workers notice the obvious irregularity in my walk and are immediately concerned, as those in physical professions are. M can see the hurt in my eyes and assumes it’s worry about my foot, my body. We’re always worried an injury could be the end of our career.
She embraces me with a giant, sincere hug, and I break down sobbing on her shoulder.
“It hurts,” I say.
“I know,” she says. “It’s scary.”