“I went deep into the woods there,” I said. “I got on my knees and dug a hole about three feet deep, and I took my heart out of my chest – it was simple, there was a latch there – and it was pumping still fast from the bike ride. I just put it in the ground.”
My friend threw his head back and started chuckling at how far I was taking the joke.
“And it’s just there. It’s buried there.” I always liked the thought that my heart was hidden somewhere far away from me. I have so many days where I feel like a piece of ice, hard to warm, uncomfortable, almost like stone. So it would be logical that all my passion to be somewhere else, thriving in another city that I gave it to.
This story is connected to France on all sides. It is a story that began there, and ended in New York. Last year in Paris I made a friend, and when I arrived back in the city after my solo-eight-day trip, he emailed me. One of his college buddies had just moved to the city. He suggested we meet, so we went to a French café in West Village. We quickly fell into a friendship that summer, and a very seamless relationship. Then it ended without explanation. He found someone else. A year passed after all that.
Sometimes it just isn’t so simple.
When I think of him in my mind, I see a silent montage of all the very good moments – the time I helped him put together an entire room of Ikea furniture, and he often he came over to help me tighten the screws and always would kiss my cheek, or the evening at his sprawling, world-famous tech-workplace, having drinks, eating free candy and playing on hammocks. Or the time we sat on a couch for hours singing Karaoke from YouTube videos. At the end of these thoughts, I always arrive at one word: “unconditional.” I remember when I was introduced to that word as a child, I thought it silly and abstract. “That’s dumb, why would you never stop loving someone,” and my mother told me that she loved me unconditionally. I secretly thought she was batty. “There shouldn’t be any such thing.”
As an adult, my opinions haven’t changed. Love, romantic love, is still a huge mystery for me, and I’ve never wanted to figure it out. I’ve never wanted to be the person (who I secretly always thought was unintelligent, highly manicured, vapid to a fault) to say something like “Oh, it was terrible, but I did it all for love.” I’ve always wanted to be the pillar of practicality. It was working fine until I reconnected with him, until I became the girl that got out of bed on a Sunday night in the freezing cold to go downtown and have dinner with him. Until I kept hearing myself say, “this is it, we’re finally going to be together.” Then I really began to understand what “unconditional love” meant. It became feasible that whatever his mood, or lifestyle, or his choices, that I could find some way to melt at his mild demeanor, and accented syntax, or some other personality trait. But it was all one sided.
So naturally, it didn’t work out at all.
I’m making steps toward quick recovery. I put my heart back where it belonged, more reassured that this was best. I shut down every dating site I was on, stopped reading Missed Connections. Every day I feel myself retreating more. I can feel myself getting colder, rigid. It’s now November, and almost December and I will be prepared for my heydays, I will be in my prime. The heartless thrive in the winter months. I swear it.