07/23/17, 12:05am

It was quiet, almost gentle; it was guilty and petty and selfish, self-aware and ashamed, confused and full of clarity all at once: “I didn’t want your expectation.”

That’s why I cried. I cried for this relationship but also because it hit so hard for all my other relationships. Friends are my family because I don’t feel like I have a family, I told him, and in saying it I knew it was true. Of course there was no need for further articulation. Who did the severing? It had been my ultimatum, which he’d rejected so immediately, so hopefully. It had been my push, my confession, my unhappiness, my implicit blame that he accepted so readily, more readily than I had given it. Does that make it more surely true? I asked the questions, gently leading us to the place. But it had been those words that were the hands to gently brush closed the wide eyes of the dead, smooth the worry of the brow, push back the flyaways of the hairline.

We taught each other about ourselves to the very end: even in the very act of breaking we spoke truths that we didn’t know were there; secrets of ourselves and of each other that we didn’t tell ourselves, those that we thought were gone, those that we wanted to not believe, and those that we didn’t know ourselves until we stared into the concrete and wrenched from inside and coaxed it out with the bait of renewal and rebirth, only to stare once we spat it out onto the pavement to see something unexpected, and brown, something alive and unruly and untamable.

We cracked jokes on the way home, idiotic nothings in our trademark absurdist humor. Why did that hurt so much? It was too us, too alive and too well to possibly be dead. Still, we make each other laugh. Still, we trudge in familial comfort. It’s there and gone at the same time and perhaps that was the problem: that not much will change at all.

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