Here you are, love. After months of imagining that you might, somehow, be anywhere else. You were so afraid and then the ending poured out of you and it was not perfect—you could have done without that drunk phone call, or the bitterness under your tongue when you tried to explain yourself, again. But: the impossible. You left.
Now pack, untether. Unknot your hopes from the moulding. Leave something behind. How lucky you are to have those friends invite you to stay. You’ll only be a few weeks, months—the sofa is fine. Make mushroom risotto for roommate dinner; don’t let the cats know you have a favorite. When your phone lights up with flash tornado warnings, you’ll only wonder for a moment if what you left behind has lost power. You can finally admit to reading your horoscope: look up your rising sign. You’ll relearn the sound of your voice, find flecks of gold in the vowels. But you’ll need a mattress if you stay much longer, and you are shivering restless.
Yes, move cities. Farther. You’ll need to cross a border, love. Break state lines. The more you burn on the way out, the better. Promise those friends you’ll be in touch, then let that city freeze over—by next spring every trace of you will be gone. In the new place, you’ll make friends, find routine. That didn’t work last time, but you’re different now—on your own, in charge. Buy the French vanilla creamer and the expensive shampoo Bailey from the salon recommends; eat pluots and blood oranges over the sink; learn what your mother would have taught you about Napa Chardonnay. Stop eating cherry melatonin gummies like dessert. Try to sleep without.
Move again—with a job this time. You were too hasty before, rushed nerves. All wringing hands and empty breath, too afraid to dye your hair. Change the scenery: try the country. Remember how happy you were in that small New England town? How easy it was, once you left, to forget how marrow-deep the lonely lay? Buy yourself a shovel—you don’t know anyone here, you will need to dig out your own car. You’ll finally learn the difference between independence and abandon. Plant bulbs so you can have tulips when spring comes again. Wake up early with the new dog; sip your too-sweet coffee at a table made of real wood. Settle in.
If you still can’t sleep, love, wait for the snow to melt, then go.
Claire Hodgdon recently earned her MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Columbia University. She is currently pursuing an MA in Feminist and Gender Studies and writing a thesis about the uses and misuses of the motherless daughter in literature.
Artwork by: Alex Stolis