Updated: Apr 27, 2021
I remember my old life like it was yesterday.
He was standing in the kitchen slicing lemons and chopping garlic for the salmon. His hands moved like lightning as the items on the cutting board stretched thinner. He’d stop for a moment, grab his glass of cabernet, look out the window and take a sip, then continue dicing. I was watching from the hallway, standing at a distance where he wouldn’t instinctively notice me, but close enough where I was waiting to be seen.
I caught myself doing this sometimes. Late nights when he’d arrive home from work, tired and distracted, sitting on the end of the couch scrolling through his phone, I’d turn my gaze toward him and observe how long it took for him to feel my eyes on his. Sunday afternoons after a long and boozy brunch, we’d undress each other over the sheets, and after, my mind would measure the space between his eyes averting from mine before getting up to turn on the TV. It went like this for some months - I, like an overlooked child - testing the waters to see how I could consume his full attention. Other times, I just needed confirmation of my plan to one day leave.
I walked into the kitchen and stood behind him; my arms slipped into his as my hands landed on his chest. I dipped my face into the scruff of his neck, and as my lips grazed his cheek, his body stiffened, as though my affection interrupted his ability to stir sauce on the stove. I stepped into this act of closeness knowing how he’d respond, yet still hoping the dynamic of our intimacy would suddenly alter course and become how I’d always dreamed it would be.
Why was it so hard to capture a moment of true connection? Why was I trying to change the unchangeable? Why did I continue straining love from an empty cup?
I remember days where I’d stand in the kitchen and wonder when my last dinner with him would be. I’d scan the artwork perfectly hung along the abalone tinted walls and pull memories from my mind like dusted relics in an attic. I couldn’t imagine leaving them behind. I didn’t want to abandon the life I’d put so much effort into maintaining.
But I knew if I stayed, I’d lose myself, and by leaving, maybe I’d begin to recover who I was again.