Left Over Love

31 Jul

So, you’ve done it. You’ve finally done it. You’ve spent too many sleepless nights tossing and turning, replaying the best parts and obsessing over the worst. You’ve had the arguments, the make ups, the final fall out, or maybe just the flickering of a dying flame that barely has the power to illuminate their face anymore…

And you didn’t want to face it. You didn’t want to face the reality of them not being beside you the moment you drift off to sleep at night. You didn’t want to face the reality of seeing “The Dark Night Rises” with someone else. You didn’t want to wake up to a phone that just tells you the time, instead of “3 New Text Messages.” You both have finally decided that it’s time to  to do that big, scary concept, and finally “Be Alone.”

So it’s just like that stupid country song you heard on the radio when you were a teenager: “Take your cat, but leave my sweater… But you’ll think of me.” So you do that. You take your cat, and you leave their sweater, and you take what’s left of your heart and you brush it off and put it somewhere hidden. Somewhere safe. Somewhere you know you can get to it at any time, but still a place that will hold it without expecting it to be used for a while. And then, you do exactly what that stupid songs says. You think of them.

You leave your extra toothbrush at their place. Why wouldn’t you? You already have your own, just sitting in your own bathroom. You don’t need TWO toothbrushes in your own bathroom. You throw theirs out, because when you go in to wash your face in the morning, it’s the first crude thing that reminds you of them and you’re sick of it. You try to delete them from other aspects of your life, to make it easier on yourself. You click every little check mark next to the significant songs in your iTunes, just to make sure that they don’t start playing on shuffle and make you tear up while you’re looking at some new “love” interest’s facebook page.

You clean them right out of your kitchen. You just, sweep them right on out of there. You get rid of the four locos, the oven fries, the things they liked but you never really did but bought anyway because you knew you’d be cooking for them. And for a fleeting moment, you feel empowered. You feel a certain kind of freedom. You only have to buy what YOU want to eat, end of discussion. This makes you feel incredibly independent, healthy, and on the right track. And then you feel strikingly alone.

You do what you’re supposed to. You go out, you spend time with your friends, you take long walks and reflect on what you “learned” and what you’re “grateful” for. But at the end of the day, it’s still all there. Sure, you’ve removed them from your house. You’ve given them back their clothing, their books, CDs, keys, cups, pens, movies, blankets, and beer. But there’s still something leftover, something lingering that you can’t get rid of. Which leads me to this question: Where do we put all of the left over love?

Love isn’t a toothbrush. You can’t just throw it in the bottom of the trashcan under some tissues and clumps of hair and forget that it’s there. Left over love isn’t a cat. You can’t snuggle it and love it just because it’s an adorable kitty, and yeah, so what if you two found him together? You can still just love the cat himself because he’s a very lovable cat…. Left over love is harder than that. It comes in too many forms, too many memories, too many smells, too many places and bursts of laughter and tears cried and times spent…

So what do you do with it all?

Previous lovers can be toxic. They linger in our hearts for years, like pale green stagnant water, unmoving, still…until suddenly something happens, and it’s like a boulder has been catapulted into the water, and it lands in the murky bottom, splashing up all of this old, forgotten liquid that smears down the glass walls we’ve so delicately put up around them, in hopes of shutting them out…

It’s the feeling you get when you’re getting ready to go out on an exciting date, the one you’ve been planning for and obsessing over for weeks, and you reach into your jewelry drawer to pull out those earrings you forgot you had, and suddenly your hand wraps around the movie ticket stub you shoved in there two years ago, the night after the first time you kissed… And BAM you’re right back in his room and he’s coming towards you and your breathing is heavy and you’re sweating and you think your mouth tastes funny but it’s too late because he’s coming closer and then… And now, here it is, that movie ticket.

It’s the love letters you never deleted, the ones that you still go back and read sometimes when you’re feeling most alone.

It’s their bracelet that came off in the shower, the one you found and wrapped around your keys without them knowing. The same one you find yourself rubbing absentmindedly between your thumb and middle finger while you wait in line at the grocery store.

It’s when you’re in Wal-Mart in the deodorant section picking up your own, and before you even realize what you’re doing, you find yourself going to the Old Spice section and smelling each and every one, in hopes of remembering what their room smelled like.

It’s letting your finger hover over the “delete friend” button, but then clicking their newest photo album instead.

It’s hearing “your song” while in the car with someone else who is in the middle telling you how amazing you are, how much they like you, how they’ve never felt like this for anyone before…

So what do we DO with it all? Because if you are anything like me, you sort of enjoy this pain. Even though it hurts, you like looking back and remembering what their armpit smelled like on Sunday nights while watching True Blood. You like storing them away, like that movie ticket, deep in the back of some almost empty drawer. Because when the time comes, you want to be able to hold them in your hand. You want to be able to go back and read the beautiful words that they once penned just for you. You want to feel their love, just a whisper of it, even though their love for you is dead and gone.

And then, like clockwork, someone new will come into your life. And it will all start over again, only this time, it will be different. You’ll go to different movies, different places. You’ll have different songs and different jokes and TV shows, and you’ll buy another toothbrush and you’ll learn the scent of their deodorant and you’ll discover little things about them; Like how they dry off after a shower, if they consistently use their turn signals while driving, if they can spell “pterodactyl” without using spell check. And just when all of these little things start adding up the way it did before, just when you’re letting yourself feel safe and excited and happy again, just when you think it’s finally safe to say the three most powerful little words you’ve been putting off since them…

You find their love letter. You read an old journal. You smell someone wearing their same deodorant at the gym.

And so, I ask again: What do we do with our left over love?

I can only hope that my future loves will be kind and curteous enough to hide their “left over love” memories far, far away from my clutches. I hope that they find better hiding spots than bedside table drawers, and files labeled “Art History Term Paper” on their computers. No one wants to know that their significant other has ever felt like this before them. No one wants to face the fact that, “Hey, guess what? You’re not my first, and you may not even be my last.” No one wants to stumble upon old journal entries, old movie tickets, a foreign perfume sample paper tucked between your bank card and your license. Knowing that our loves have loved before us hurts, and knowing that a bit of their heart does not and WILL not ever belong to us, also hurts.

So, I ask again: What do we do with our left over love?

I do not know the answer. I hope that in the future, I will find the man who not only looks at my left over loves with concern, but with a graceful acceptance. I hope I can find someone who will be polite enough to hide their left over loves from me, but be honest enough to talk about them if I ask. I want to find the person who makes me feel loved and happy enough in my current state to confidently dump out that old drawer and say goodbye forever; and yet, I also want the man who will say, “Hey, wait! Don’t throw that out, that stuff was kind of important to you, right?” I want the man who will look through that drawer with me, swap stories with me, laugh about our pasts that have ultimately brought the two of us together.

And to everyone who is hoarding their left over loves in the depths of their hearts, I would say this: Never apologize for the love you once felt for someone, even if your current lover wishes you to do so. If it was real to you at one point in time, than it was just that: Real, at one point in time. Remember that every lover you take plays a part in the person who you become, and take pride and joy in that fact. Choose the people you love wisely. Do not just let anyone slink their way into your left over love drawer.

And, I would also say- Don’t be afraid to be alone. These are the times you get to drink entire bottles of wine by yourself and blog at 7:00 at night while dressed in a purple nightie with your hair wrapped in a towel like a turban. These truly are precious times and should be savored just as much as any first kiss or anniversary dinner. And some day, you will look back on these days and nights of alone time with a fond sigh and think, “Wow. I wish I had a left over love of me drawer that I could look back through…”

And then, I would say, this is what old journals are for.

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2 Responses to “Left Over Love”

  1. laura p July 31, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

    I’m actually writing a play right now about this very same idea. You read my mind.

  2. Janelle March 22, 2013 at 12:29 am #

    I ALMOST forgot how much I adore this piece of yours. Truly one of my favorite things I’ve ever read. 🙂

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