Empty

“What happens now?”

“You can go.”

Where was I supposed to go? We were sitting in his car, in a parking lot miles from my house. I didn’t move. I couldn’t remember how to. I wasn’t sure I had control over my body anymore.

He shifted into drive and brought me home. The drive was just a few miles, but it felt cross-country. We sat in silence the whole way. The radio had been playing quietly, but he shut it off without saying a word.

“Ok.” He said softly, barely audible.

I opened my mouth to speak, but found no words. Nodding, I left.

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The Grand Canyon (Part 2)

Our friend came out to us last night,

in an emotional speech surrounded by loved ones.

We were still on the road,

now in Nebraska.

She FaceTimed us and told us she was trans.

She had her friends over,

the moment felt right.

I wished I could’ve hugged her.

You and I talked about gender and sexuality for a while

well after the call ended.

I learned you once contemplated not being cis.

I did too, back in high school.

I told you I loved that we were still learning about each other.

You smiled and agreed.

We were on the road,

on a street we’d never seen,

in a car you only bought a month ago,

but I couldn’t have felt more at home.

Grand Canyon (Part 1) a road trip we’d never forget

I didn’t eat breakfast.

You tell me, climbing into my car.

Don’t worry,

I respond,

We can stop at Dunkin’.

You smile.

It’s still early,

The sun hasn’t yet risen.

We’re early, too,

We could stop at the beach,

And watch the sunrise.

First, you need breakfast.

I pull into the drive-thru,

I order you a sandwich,

You don’t have to tell me what you want,

I know what you always get.

I order us both coffees, too.

We’re going to need it today.

 

We’ve got a long day ahead of us,

First you have the dentist,

Then I have therapy.

Then, we’re driving across the country.

We’ve saved money,

Calculated the hours it’ll take-

37, with no traffic.

We packed our bags,

Got the time off work,

Found a place to stay.

We’re staying with my friend,

He lives a half hour from the Grand Canyon,

And we’ve always wanted to visit.

He moved to Arizona two years ago,

We’ve hardly seen him since,

Never to visit him,

He’s only come back up to the northeast.

He introduced us to each other,

So we owe him this trip.

 

I’ve known him since high school,

You two met through mutual friends.

I was surprised we had never met,

We frequented a lot of the same places.

When he introduced me to you,

I knew right then.

 

We met a week before our friend moved away.

For a while that was all we talked about.

That grew into how we met our friend,

Which grew into discussions of high school and college,

Which turned into stories of high school and college,

Which turned into our hobbies,

Of which we had many in common,

Which turned into me showing you my favorite show,

Then you showed me yours,

And two years later,

We’re on a road trip to celebrate our anniversary.

 

I paid for our breakfast,

And drove us to the beach.

I made sure to go to one that faces the sunrise.

I’ve made that mistake before.

We ate our breakfast

while our favorite songs played through the speakers.

I was reminded of past dates,

Sitting in this exact spot,

Eating take-out and laughing at each other’s jokes.

I smiled blissfully at the thought,

knowing fully there were more of those moments to come.

A letter to my past self.

There’s so many mistakes you’re going to make,

so many things you wish you said

and so many things you could’ve done better,

but you’ll get through it just fine.

To me from a year ago:

Good things are close,

do whatever you can to keep yourself busy,

and you don’t need an excuse to do what you want.

If you want to spend all day watching YouTube,

who’s stopping you?

Don’t move in with your boyfriend three weeks after he betrayed your trust.

Just because he’s going through a tough time doesn’t mean he should be your responsibility.

To me from two years ago:

You don’t need a boyfriend, 

you need a friend.

Reach out to people you’ve lost contact with.

Don’t date that boy just because he’s nice to you.

You’ll hate your summer job,

but it’s good money for the time.

And for fucks sake, don’t listen to that boy you’re going to date-

you don’t need to buy weed, he does.

To me from three years ago:

Let it go.

That annoying person shouldn’t ruin your day.

Yeah, he sucks but he’ll make for a good story.

I’m proud of you for getting through your first big break up.

It was months ago, 

but I know you’re still dealing with it.

You’ll be over him soon.

He still texts you every couple months, though.

To the future me:

I hope things are still going good.

I’ve been trying to set you up for success.

I’ve fallen into a routine of positive coping skills,

and I hope you stick to them.

He lied comfortingly.

“I know how you feel.” He lied comfortingly.

“I’m not sure I believe you.” I said, awkwardly fiddling with my hands.

“I know, but you will. You just need time.” He said, and I stupidly believed him. His lies were reoccurring. Comfort grew in his lies. Our relationship crumbled, but I couldn’t bear to live without him. He lied and cheated, and I should know better. But I was too broken to fathom leaving. 

“What if it happens again? What will I do then?” I fought back a little.

“It won’t happen again.” He said. This time it wasn’t a lie because he was referring to me finding out. He’d be more careful next time. He would make sure to close all his tabs and delete his messages. We would live a happy and lie-infested life. 

Months would go on, years passed, and I hadn’t forgotten it. I had nightmares of the night I found out, that Instagram message notification, it’s innocent but brutal ding that defined who we were as a couple. Her message, I memorized. The screenshots she sent, I saw every time I closed my eyes. I told him I got over it, but I could never. I thought about it every time he smiled, every time my phone went off. When I got message requests, I thought, “This is it. Another one. The last straw. I’m finally done.” When it ended up being nothing, I was angry. I was angry that I didn’t have a reason to leave. I was angry that I wanted to. I was angry that it had been years and I still stayed. Why didn’t I leave? What was keeping me here?

I was scared to tell any of my friends about it in fear that they would tell me to leave him. I knew it was abusive, it wasn’t that easy. He was all I knew. We dated since high school, we’d been through everything together. If I left him, I’d be leaving those memories, too. And there weren’t just bad memories, we had a lot of good ones. Watching the football games, hanging out with his friends late at night in the summer. 

I knew it was bad. That wasn’t the problem. The problem was he had me convinced I would never be happy without him, that he was the best I would ever do. I finally left him three months ago, and I’ve never been happier. I’ve been hanging out with my friends again, I moved into my own little apartment. I deleted him from my phone, blocked him on social media, and I haven’t been prouder of myself. I’m still recovering, but I’m doing a lot better already.