The minute I sat on the train, I knew that something was shifting. The moment we started moving, and the train went forward, and we began to head out of the city, I knew something was different.
There’s something about being in transit that changes you. That makes you feel more positive. That you are nowhere yet, but that you are going somewhere. Being in that nowhere place soothed me. It felt right. It felt right to be nowhere. I didn’t want to be anywhere. I wanted to float. I wanted to drift between places. I wanted to dissolve into a thousand pieces spread across this place.
The first city I went to alone was by the ocean. It was not too far, but it was far enough to be different. We landed at a station that seemed to be on the outskirts. I saw tall golden grasses, and not far off, I could smell the ocean. The air felt different, tasted different. There was a salt on it. There was something cleaner. My lungs were hungry for it. I was hungry for this difference.
I could feel the layers of the old city peeling from me just as I had once felt the layers of our old town fall from my skin. This was another new time. Another becoming. Another transition from the way things once were. Another exploration waiting to happen.
I had done it once before. I could do it again.
And here, I thought, here I could do it better. Here I could be happier. Here was a tamer place than the concrete jungle I had been wandering in. Here was a place that asked me to build a tent on the beach and happily be a hermit. Here was a place that seemed like it did not care who I was or whether I was a survivor or whether I could handle it. This was a place that would not challenge me, not too much, not far beyond the simple things.
My soul loosened there. It ceased to be so tightly wound around me. And I let Eve go, a bit. It was less painful to be here, to be in a place that we had not entered together.
I would always remember the town as the place where I came to let go of her. The place that I came to, mildew growing in my pockets from sitting in the rain, and tried to rinse off the layers of pain.
There were worse things to have to recover from than a broken heart, I was sure. Of course there were. There were physical pains, there were family losses. Of course, those are pains, too. But can there be a hierarchy to the pain of loss? It did not exist. It simply was there.
I was angry, of course. I was angry that I found her and lost her. I was angry at the universe for that.
And I was thankful. So immensely thankful to have experienced her. To have had her in my life. Of course, I was thankful. How could I not be?
I needed something else. I needed a heart transplant. I needed a change. I needed things to return to the way they were. I needed Eve to be alive again. So that I could take her hand and tell her that I could become someone without her. That I was sorry that I had built so much of myself around her. That I wish that she hadn’t had to leave so that I would finally look for myself. So that I would finally feel more than the desire for her.
It is a madness, yes. Healing is a madness. The process pulls us into insanity. Things need to shift so suddenly, so extremely. Things have to change so dramatically for all the broken places to mend. Things have to become so different for the sake of everything that was and would be no longer.
I was mad. I became mad. The madness of healing is an enduring one. It never really leaves. Once the first pain has been inflicted, the madness of the process always leaves a residue.
I wanted to be better. I wanted to not despise my aloneness. I wanted to stop being alone. I wanted to only be alone. Everything was insane. I was insane.
I spent months in that town. I let the sand and the water rub away the person I wasn’t. The person I could no longer be. I let myself become someone else.
It was alone. I made a little money working in a restaurant. Restaurants always offer respite to those who have nothing and are willing to work for nearly nothing. The industry that focuses so much on feeding people does more than put food in bellies. The wages were unfair, but so were my circumstancs. It would have been worse if I had not been able to work. It would have been worse if they refused to allow me to work. I had an advantage: I had no visions of how much money I wanted to make and I had the right to work legally. There are ugly truths in the world. What is right is not always best.
I washed dishes every night. I was paid in cash. I slept on a bench the first nights. Eventually I found an empty storefront to sneak into. It would be a new shop in a few weeks, but between the restaurant’s closing each night and sunrise each day, it was my home.
I knew I was dirty. I knew I looked terrible. I finally couldn’t stand myself and began to wash my clothes at a laundromat on my off days.
There was a breaking point, as there always is. The point of realization that there was no going further the same way.