By Anna Murphy
New York, NY, USA
I think the heart's elasticity is akin to other body parts as you age: it gets increasingly harder and harder to spring back. But unlike those problem areas that you can work out with a trainer or free weights, your heart's "condition" is contingent on another human being. They hold it in the hypothetical palm of their hand. You hope that they keep gently pumping blood to it. But sometimes holding onto something for a long time gets tiring. Painful even. Sometimes you cramp up. Sometimes you just have to stop.
Well in the scheme of love, I'm fat. And let me tell you, it's hard having a fat heart when "thin is in." I love to feel full. I binge on life – experiences, love and pain. And my heart fattens up. And just like most things in life, the tiniest Grinch hearts win.
And rather predictably, I'm a crier. Never did I ever think I could define myself so simply, so…sadly. I cry because I love. It's therapeutic. It means I care enough about something inside, enough to let it show on the surface.
I've been crying a lot lately because my boyfriend and I broke up. Without going into detail, I will say I still love him but it had to happen for us to heal and grow as individuals. I'm 27-years-old and have only felt sadness comparable to this on a few occasions. I remember when my grandma Blanton passed away. On her deathbed, she told us that she would be present in butterflies. I see butterflies all the time – most recently in the stadium of a Gator football game, up in the nosebleeds. Grandmother, what are you doing up here? I thought. She liked it better when we called her "grandmother." More regal sounding I guess.
Thinking back on it, I did post a picture of the stadium on Facebook that said "heaven on earth." Well, pie on my face – grandmother definitely has Facebook in heaven.
When we broke up, one of the things I said was that he made me the happiest of anyone in the world, but my moments of greatest sadness were also when we were together. I needed to get off the roller coaster and wander the flat lands of life for a while. This conversation was prompted by a fight we had last week. Not so different from fights of yore, but different in the fact I didn't want to fight the fight. I didn't want to put up my dukes and get in the ring. I was done defending false accusations; I was done speaking angry words in retort. I had a moment of clarity.
That moment of clarity was most certainly the calm before the storm. The torrential rains that poured from my eyes later. The stomping of my feet on wet ground to make them warm in frigid cold on the corner of 22nd and 6th (the established halfway point between his office and mine). The thundering realization that something once so perfect could be wrong, that maybe meant to be, just well, wasn't. The flash in his eyes that said more than words ever could.
We both cried. He put me in a cab. I sobbed my cross-streets to the driver who I'm sure had seen many more like me. I called my mom just to cry, because I was all talked out. I'm 27 going on 12. I walked into my dark freezing apartment and crumpled, a mass of limbs in front of my space heater. I took off my shoes first. I always take off my shoes because I have a cream-colored carpet. I thought for a moment I might have frostbite on my toes because they felt like mini ice cubes through my tights. (We loved the mini ice cubes). I welcomed the momentary distraction. I hiccupped, realized that I had stopped crying for one second, and then started back up. I heard myself cry. Those deep guttural sounds, reminiscent of those childhood bedroom-jailed fits. The wails that come from within and say in so many words (or sounds) that life is not fair.
I ordered food on the web from a restaurant with a "B" rating. My boyfriend didn't eat at restaurants with "B" ratings. This particular restaurant was somewhere I had stopped eating because he read to me their violations and they were disturbing and disgusting. This didn't cross my mind. Nor did the fact I was subconsciously rebelling against him.
I wasn't even hungry but hadn't eaten and had a sharp pain in my chest that I had assessed to be either a premature heart attack or my body going into starvation mode. Today I think I just actually experienced the feeling of a heart breaking.
That was Monday night. Today is Wednesday. Last night I put on matching flannel pajamas. I went to Bath & Body Works (before putting on the pjs don't worry) to buy holiday candles. I was bound and determined to cry in cozy comfort. My best friend came over and brought me a chunk of chocolate cake, vegan of course. She said, "Do you just want me to come over and not talk?" I thought that sounded perfect. Of course I ended up talking. And crying.
Katharine Hepburn and David Manners
in A Bill of Divorcement (1932)
For the record, the show Parenthood is a good show if you want to cry, and feel warm and fuzzy, and not talk.
A few days ago my mom said it will only get harder. (She's been my sounding board as you can tell. You have to have one or you'll go crazy. I think I am still going crazy.) I didn't know what she meant. But now I see a Shibu Ina and I cry. We wanted to get that dog. I can't watch our show, Homeland, because I get too scared of the terrorists. Maybe I will in the daylight. He left a book at my apartment that I still want to read. That's okay, right? But the book is supposed to be scary too. My daylight is booking up. His birthday is Sunday and I made reservations at Little Owl. I just realized I haven't cancelled them yet. Our friend is getting married this Saturday. I get to see people in love firsthand. I'm so happy for them. I'll probably sob. My fat heart gets fatter still.
Everything reminds me of him. Everything.
I want to time travel to a time and place where I don't feel this way. I sort of want to run away. But I don't. It means I've numbed the feelings. Pain subsiding means forgetting. And I never want to forget a love like this.
It's Wednesday and I still feel sorry for myself as you can tell. But maybe tomorrow, I won't. I went running today in the rain, because that's something I can control. I listened to sad songs, and the weather fit my mood to a tee. But I went running. Maybe tomorrow I'll play something upbeat. Or maybe I won't. Maybe I'll put the flannels in a drawer. Or maybe I'll wear them all winter.
I'm older now, and know that it's going to take a while. And even then, my heart will never be the same.