I like to take steaming showers. I fill all of the cracks in the bathroom door and I close the window to seal the room shut. I turn the left knob of the faucet as far as I can without it leaving marks on my skin as it falls from the shower head. I sit with my back to the spout, pull my knees in, wrap my arms around my shins, and rest my chin on my knee caps. I sit like that until the steam is so dense there isn’t an inch of the room that isn’t covered in it. The room is all filled up. I’m all filled up. I start to feel light headed, all the energy sucked from my body. I know I’m ready. My body always feel sluggish as I use the sides of the tub to pull myself to my feet. When I turn the left knob back to the right it makes a screeching noise similar to the way I feel when I think about him loving someone else. I wrap myself in a towel and race to my bed to get under the blankets before the warmth fades, competing with the memories of all the ways in which loving him left me freezing.
That’s how I fight the loneliness…with heat. The kind of warmth my body ached for each and every time he betrayed me.
I came around to telling you I missed you. You never said it back. “Must be lonely,” making an assumption about my plan to go a year without sex. I let you know I felt more lonely spending time with men that weren’t you, doing things I was predetermined to believe you did better. And instead of trying to force different squares into the never ending circle that is you and I, I chose to do without. Round and round I went while you remained still in the center of it all, watching me spiral. A series of me reaching my hands out to touch you while you slipped yours into your back pockets for whatever you had waiting there for you, someone you saved for later. I told you I knew what I wanted and you told me to spell it out for you as a business proposal. You wanted my feelings bullet pointed, our future outlined, and steps for getting there. You said that once I submitted you would review and decide whether or not you accepted my terms. I did not accept that, the idea that my love should be submitted for review. But now it makes sense, your arrogance, I was one of two. You wanted to hold my heart up to the light to see if the light would shine through and when I didn’t lay my bare flesh in your hands for you to examine all the holes you dug you decided to bury your face in the neck of someone else. But maybe she’d like that about you, maybe she’d confuse your RFP with you having an idea of what you want. I know all too well you have not once in your life known what you want and that if you did you expected it to sleep on your doorstep until you were ready to let it in. Maybe she wrote paragraphs about your charm and went on for pages about the way your voice made her heart explode. Maybe she filled a blog with her thirst for your love. I’ve filled notebooks with pieces of you and all the while you told me you didn’t like to read.
Must be lonely, knowing your love is not worth the weight.
If grad school taught me one thing it is to write about what scares me. And for two years I wrote intensively about things that terrify me. I wrote about things I’ve never spoken aloud and I took a fine-tooth comb through the memories I try hardest to white out. But now it’s my feelings and my memories that have scared me out of writing, scared that once I get it down on the page it might be true and once shared it will become something to someone else and they’ll be allowed to do as they please with my many truths. It’s this kind of fear that has kept me from sharing the work I spent two years and $100,000 producing and perfecting, assuming there is such a thing as a perfect truth.