—The city will burst into the flapping of cranes and butterflies
and I will start speaking again.
There is not enough time to spend with the people you love when they are living in the same state or city as you. We’re caught up in our relationships and our jobs and activities, getting locked into a grid that keeps us from spending time with people who have seen us grow. Only when they leave does your heart start to sniff at the space they used to live in.
There is a place I go to a lot and I am almost crying because it has been a long time since I’ve been here. Stardust Video and Coffee. I came here to write and I did that. When I was in school I had an anxiety that could grid my shoulders with pain, and this place proved comforting with its hanging paper fish, flashing colored lights, and shelves of books.
In the middle of college, I realized we use too many words to describe things that can only be felt. In the silence, things are experienced the same. In speaking, everyone will use different words to describe the same thing and talk in endless lines away from the core experience. I am on my hiatus from speaking about anything other than the superficial topics that require my attention. Except for small spurts where I come to write and do that.
I lost my friends so they could seek what they want out of college and their jobs. Although “lost” is not the right word, it also fits. We used to talk about our dreams and fears on docks late into the night. We used to turn to each other in our times of need. For 8 years, they provided a hand I could reach for. And when I reached one day, it was gone. I reached for them and came up with — and was always almost crying driving home from work on Colonial.
It’s hard to create those kinds of relationships after college. Lately, my priorities are reflected in the clothes I managed to wash, now spread on my bed that I cannot fold. It is not exercising and feeling not only the heaviness on my stomach, but the heaviness in my stride as Friday leans away like a shadow.
This is a battle against remembering how sweet it can be to have those friendships. Other days, it’s a battle to remember. It is seeing the person I relied on most halfway across the country or halfway around the world.
My older cousin and his wife had a 3 year old and a baby by the time I started college at UCF. They used to guide me through Orlando and nearby areas. We went trick or treating near College Park, listened to a guitarist at Timucua (the White house), floated in the rock springs at Kelly Park, picnicked near Lake Eola. Then they moved to Chicago. Then they moved to Europe. That was a time of leaving that didn’t end in panic. I learned to exhale through their leaving, even though I still blinked and looked up a lot.
I need to see my sister-cousins this weekend. Lucky am I that I chose to live in the same city as them. Lucky I had my intelligent cousin to talk to before. Now, we don’t see each other as much. When we do, he says, “thank you for reaching out.” Lucky am I.
Lately, relationships must be puppet-stringed through phone calls and Instagram stories. A part of getting older is getting better at goodbyes. I’ll learn to exhale through unanswered texts and calls one day, too. There’s gonna be a time when I have to leave and learn to exhale through my own leaving. Instead of being the shore, I’ll be the boat docking one night to unload and leaving the next day with its new shipment of cargo.