An Ode to Things That No Longer Keep Me Awake

2014-12-21 12.07.55You don’t.

You did for a while. For far too long, you were the phone call I waited for, the joke I almost told, the gift I bought but never gave, the pair of eyes I looked for at the beginning and the end of the day. You taught me how to give the silent treatment, to stop listening, to drunk text. You taught me about the joy in recklessness.

You taught me about about the fear in recklessness too.

You opened me up, messed around, hid some things from me, brought others out to play. And then you closed me back up.

You were the villain in all my stories.

But now you don’t. Now I find you boring, and me boring too when I find myself thinking of you. For a while I was so glad to have a story that I didn’t care that it was a bad one, that it lacked character development, a hero, a denouement. I didn’t care that it was far too long, that it needed a red pen like a fish needs water. I never realized that, had I been this story’s reader instead of its writer, I would never have made it to the end.

I thought any story was better than no story at all. I was wrong.

I know what I look for in a story now. I like the slow burn ones, I like to feel the pressure in my left hand along the line of my thumb, the lurch of in my heart instead of my stomach. I prefer the spot behind my ear to the one on my waist. I need better character development. The protagonist needs to be her own person, she can’t seek definition from you anymore.

Instead, she’s going to find it in traveling, in finishing a novel, in cooking delicious things for and with her friends. She’s going to find it in good wine and good whiskey. She’s going to find it mason jars and moleskins and ballpoint pens. She’s going to find it in waiting. She might try to find it in online dating. But more than likely, she’ll probably just keep the coffee shop dream alive. She’s going to find it in good stories. Because she knows how much damage bad stories can do.

You used to keep me up at night, while I was trying to write you better, write you different, write you there. You kept me awake while I tried to make you a character instead of a delusion, when the whole time I should have remembered that you’re a person, and not a very good one. You kept me awake at night while I tried to put back all the things inside me you made a mess of.

But not anymore. In the immortal words of Taylor Swift, I think I’m finally clean.

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