I’ve never embraced the change in seasons. It interrupts my rhythm, a rhythm I’ve usually spent time settling into comfortably, and the transition always feels abrupt.
Once-sunny days turn into brisk skies of grey. City dwellers’ cheery dispositions noticeably fade into frowns. And though the same change happens around the same time every year, I'm still surprised when summer meets fall, despite knowing the cusp is on its way.
Come to think of it, I’ve never really embraced change.
So when I got a text from my ex on one Friday evening that detailed plans of his going-away party, I was overwhelmed. Where exactly was he going? When was he going? And why was I invited to his party?
I took a deep breath, planned for the worst and asked him what it all meant. He told me he was moving out of New York at the end of the month; he and his friends had blueprints ready for a multimedia production company they were going to start in Los Angeles. He wanted me in his group of a select few people to say goodbye.
I didn’t know what to do. I hadn’t seen my ex in months. I felt sad and anxious and scared and excited all at the same time.
My girlfriends urged me not to go, but the truth is, I had my mind made up from the moment he asked me. Even still, my mind bore little influence anyway. I didn’t think with my head; I leapt with my heart.
A week after receiving that fateful text, I found myself surrounded by my ex and his friends at a bar in Brooklyn. None of them looked nearly as torn up as I felt. Still, I hid my heavy heart well.
When the night wound down, my ex cornered me into the darkest part of the bar.
“Do you want to spend the night?”
Cocking my head to the side, I smirked. To crawl into the sheets with him or to head home? If I chose to leave, I’d forever wonder “what if?” But if I chose to stay? Ah, if I stayed… I’d feel passion and thrill. I’d feel breathless and intoxicated. And I’d feel alive as hell.
This wouldn’t be my first retreat back to my ex, but one of many that preceded it.
I have to stay the night, I told myself. Because this time would be different from all the other times. This time would be the very last time.
In the end, I ultimately decided the short-lived pleasure would be worth the long-term pain.
At 3 AM, the streets were still booming with life. I was wine-buzzed, just tipsy enough to enjoy the moments to come, but just cognizant enough to know better. I grabbed my ex’s hand.
Nothing else in the world mattered; I was his again.
He led me up a flight of crooked, wooden stairs to his apartment. My heart felt like it would jump out of my chest. My soul felt too big for my skin.
He lay me down on his bed, and I grabbed his chest. Holding him was like riding a bike. It was as if nothing had changed, as if the last few months we spent separated didn't exist.
The intensity of our togetherness, then and there, was enough to make up for all lost time.
At first kiss, he tasted so good -- followed by first touch, first cradle in his arms, first bite on my neck. Every muscle in my body eased into repose. Every inch of him surrendered to the vulnerability inside of me.
Memories, mostly good, flooded my mind with his every thrust -- in, it’s been so long, out, you’ll have to go soon, in, I remember what your love felt like, out, wait, come back, I need more of you.
Touching him felt like pure poison. I knew he was eventually going to leave, but all I wanted to do was make our moments last. He was the forbidden fruit, and I, the naive wanderer, willing to do anything just to get my hands on it before it turned rotten, spoiled, useless.
We spent the rest of the night holding each other.
I woke up with tears in my eyes, unable to contain my longing for him. He was still sound asleep, unperturbed, as if he didn't have a care in the world. Not wanting to wake him in my state of frenzy, I kissed him on the cheek, grabbed my things and headed out the door.
On my walk to work, I felt emptier than I've ever felt before.
I thought being with him would reignite something in me. I thought fooling around with my past would help catapult me forward into the future.
But he hasn’t even left this city -- the city in which we met -- and yet I already miss him more than I knew was possible.
How could something so touch-and-go leave me feeling so euphoric? Why did everything I ever wanted prove to be nothing more than something I couldn’t have?
F*cking him didn’t awaken me; it just f*cked me up.
Maybe that’s part of why I did it in the first place. There was a part of me that knew how much pain I’d be in, a part of me that thought I could prove myself by being anything but my own worst enemy.
For a while now, I've been drifting through life. I've been drifting for so long that apathy became my new normal. Lately, I've wanted to feel a surge of emotions, that kind of rush that hits you the way the wind hits your face at the tippy top of a roller coaster right before it drops.
Surely, I thought, a reunion with my ex would solve the problem. One last f*ck before his departure would be bittersweet.
No, it wasn’t bittersweet. It was only bitter.
Today, I sit here in my chair, at my work desk, quiet and deceivingly calm. My complacent face paints a pleasant picture, but my noisy mind tells a different story. It takes everything I have in me not to cry.
Being with him one last time wasn't poetic. It was only painful. More than anything -- more than empathy, more than poetry, more than love itself -- I feel pain. It pours out of me like a stream, unadulterated in its flow, and it shows no signs of stopping.
New York is the city that never sleeps. But for me, it will always be the city in which I fell into a helpless kind of love, with an unimaginable kind of person.