by Serene Jansen    A three week break from a two year shit show

            I met Drew when I was eighteen years old. I just finished my first semester of college and was home visiting from San Francisco. I was still under the spell of the new and complete freedom that college in a new city had offered me. My first semester had gone well. I lost my virginity–a drunk and effervescent threesome that took place on the second floor of our college dorm. I passed all my classes even Astronomy. I made some really amazing friends. Now that I was back home I tried to keep the momentum of newness and adventure, so as restless ladies of my time are wont to do, I logged into Tinder. After filtering through the many frogs and fuckboys, I met Drew. He showed up to my parent’s house with a sultry glistening smile. I saw him just as he was entering the gate and told him to wait for me in his car. I said, “Never come to the door” and he obeyed. We drove off somewhere in the hills of Hollywood, I can’t remember where I just remember him lighting his backwood the second he pulled off. I giggled and watched him with a steady gaze that I so often gave then. A gaze. One that beamed at myself and not any person in particular. My voice was slow, solid. And the things I said were fleeting and uncommitted. He fell in love with this. On our way back to my house he asked if he could see me again I said I would let him know. My hook was fastened tightly around the nape of his neck and only I knew this.

            My next semester was quite dark. I suppose too much of the frivolity caught up to me. I was hospitalized twice, my grades were all fails and my friends felt farther and farther from reach although they weren’t. Julie especially was always patiently waiting but at the time I couldn’t see it. So I isolated myself, leaving my dorm room only to eat or walk around the lake. I went through a bunch of short-lived acquaintances that were not very good company but I would entertain them  anyway. My anxiety grew, my depression worsened and a semester later I dropped out. I stayed in my SF apartment for a few months, not leaving except to get groceries or if Drew was visiting. I became agoraphobic and my depression was at its peak. During that time I only saw Julie a handful of times. Not because I didn’t want to or because I didn’t miss her but because I was ashamed of how far I felt from happiness and I didn’t want it to show. So I kept it hidden, my hands and voice shook when I saw people I knew. My relationship with Drew became a possessive one. I would call while he was away at school. I called, and called, and called on him. Eventually my parents let me move back home. I returned weary and out of touch with myself. Tristitia.

But I did have some beautiful days. I clung to the familiar: the unchanging curves of my neighborhood, the sound of my family walking through the house. I was comforted. And for a few moments in the day, I found myself unburdened by the failures.              It was Drew’s turn to come back. He finished his last year of college in New York and moved back home, fifteen minutes from me. I was overjoyed. I revelled in the fact that I could see him whenever I wished. I drove around the reservoir at every chance.. I would stay with him for days and cling to him to the person I loved, unable to see how much pain he was in. He saw me not as a whimsical living thing not the mischievous creature just freshly eighteen, but as a broken, timid, inhibited being that I became. He hated that he still loved me. It was plain to see. I saw it in the sighs he took right after lighting the spliff that always rests behind his ear. In the clouds that formed over his eyes when I screamed that he was disloyal. It was in his muscles that tensed as I approached him, each time I went near him. His eyes pinched shut as if he was fighting to awaken from a painful dream. And when his mother died I clung to him harder so he didn’t think I would disappear like her. Although he hated me being there. He hated my eagerness to be with him. We would look at each other and say nothing and I knew he hated that I loved him. The hook was no longer in him it was latched to my last rib, it was in me so tight that even when his pressed lips said nothing I felt it reeling.

I haven’t seen him for two weeks and I suppose in another week we should reconvene and come to terms– we have to spare each other the burden. I know that time is coming so I’ve been removing the hook little by little and cleaning the waste I left myself. That stinging feeling from the last couple years is still there and I know it always will be, but through that ache I can feel something in me is opening up.