My Hidden Lives // Prose

113. about why I’ll never take a jet plane away from you

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What it is, is nothing new. A rerun of my favorite movie: how to painfully reach a decision you will regret, or second guess, a few days from now. The latest installment in the saga of I-am-leaving-unless-you-tell-me-to-stay-otherwise-I’m-gone-for-good-well-maybe-not.

This has been the spot of many a rushed goodbye. You tell me, „Don’t put your faith in trains, leave on a jet plane instead. If you do, you can play me that John Denver song and I can read between the lines and think you love me enough to hate to leave.“

Neither of us really likes John Denver, to be honest. We both consider him incredibly corny, and we’ve never been relaxed enough around each other to admit that we actually like corny. At least I haven’t.  I also haven’t told you about how, on the same day I met you, I stood on the miniscule balcony of my parents’ flat smoking one cigarette after another and praying surprisingly hard for an atheist, to something or other in me that still might hold sway over my incredibly foolish follower-heart: Don’t screw this one up again.

I didn’t mean us. I meant me, my last chance to do what I’ve wanted to all along.

„No,“ I say. „I can’t travel by plane to where I’m headed. I have to feel the journey. I have to notice each stop, I have to not sleep and think of you. I need to let go of detail after trivial detail of the life I had. Of who I was. I need to become someone new by the time I reach my destination, and changing is not a sudden occurrence: it is a slow, progressive evolution. It happens in steps, in stops.“

What I’ll be letting go of are not the details of my own life, but ours. I need the time a train journey will give me to learn how to live without (you), not with me. I also need the safety of knowing I can change my mind at any time. Never having faith in parachutes or being much of a leaper, I will take the train to ensure that, if I wanted to, I could go back to you.

You, whose heart leaps, and does not follow. You, who will nevertheless follow me down to the tracks and tell me you’re in love with someone else, in a desperate attempt to help me leave you behind. To you, who will then stand outside the station for the longest time, tears tracking salty roads toward your lips, where I will always remain: a ghost, a specter, an unwanted guest in the arched hallway of your mouth that was once my home.

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