An open letter to my friend.
People don’t write songs about situations like mine. I’ve tried very hard to find comfort in records like “Don’t Start Now” by Dua Lipa or “Ignore Me” by Betty Who, but, at the end of the day, I am in a completely different world than these narrators.
“Don’t Start Now” and “Ignore Me” (along with countless other songs that follow this archetype) have a storyteller with a giant metaphorical finger up in the air. Their past lover hurt them deeply only to come crawling back to them, begging for attention and/or a new beginning.
What happens when the lover never comes back? I’ve yet to find a song that highlights that phenomena (probably because it isn’t nearly as uplifting or fun as being proven right by your ungrateful ex). And I’m not talking about sad songs; they are plenty of those. I’m talking about something that finds meaning in the silence, that finds strength in the rejection.
Three years ago in July, we were doing a show together and after rehearsal, we went to get dinner at Qdoba. It was pretty much perfect for me. I got to eat a guinea pig-sized burrito and I got to talk to you. The employees eventually asked us to leave because they were closing up, and so we stood out by my car and chatted for a while. But it got late and you had to go. We said our goodbyes. We drove away in separate cars. And I never saw you again. Every conversation we’ve had after that night at Qdoba has consisted of sparsely-sent text messages and a few emails. There’s obviously at lot of context that I’m leaving out given that this is an open letter on the internet and perhaps the context doesn’t matter so much as the aftermath you left in your wake.
We have a rift (I’ll use that term very generously) and then you left. Literally. You moved to a different town and told me to never speak to you again. Any attempts I have made to rectify the situation or at least get some kind of closure have been met with statements such as, “I hate you,” or “Do not ever contact me again.”
It’s no secret that I loved you, but, first and foremost, you were my friend. You were my best friend and you told me more than once that I was yours. We often talked about how we were kindred spirits or cut from a similar cloth. I felt comfort with you that I had never experienced with another person, and you told me so often that I was special. You were my kryptonite (if I’m allowed to be cliche.)
Make no mistake that my life is pretty fucking great now. I’ve grown a lot in the three years since you’ve seen me and probably for the better. I moved out of my parents’ place finally and live with my very close friend (who is one of the reasons why I’m here today; she was the first person I told when everything went down between you and me and she has helped me a lot to deal with the mess that you left). My writing is taking off (somewhat…more than I really ever thought it would), I have two beautiful nephews, I travelled to Ireland and Prague by myself, I learned to crochet, and I’m working hard on the social anxiety that’s kept me from really getting to know people all these years. 2020 has given me my fair share of shit, but I don’t want you to think that I am sitting around, crying into a wine glass every night because you didn’t love me back. (I did do that for a while.) But I am, in a lot of ways, still broken. I’m not the sweet girl that you left behind all those years ago; I’m a little tougher now, bitter, and cynical. You used to say one of the best things about me was that I was so bright and happy. I have lost some of that and I have spent countless hours in therapy trying to put my fears into words: you threw me away like a piece of trash; so I must be trash.
When you first told me to stay away from you, I assumed that this was just a knee-jerk reaction to our “rift” and given enough time, you’d contact me when you felt it was right. I gave you your space. I fought the panic in my head that said it was over for us and we’d never see each other again; you would call me, we would settle things, and life would go on. You have never really made that call, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not still waiting on it (even if logic dictates that it’s never coming). My expectations for what you would say have slowly dwindled over the years. Where once I hoped for, “Deanna, I love you and I care deeply about you, but this is just insurmountable and we need to go our separate ways,” now I simply hope that you think of me and maybe feel a twinge of pity.
That’s the part that hurts the most: every day you wake up and have a chance to reach out to me and make things right but you choose not to. Every night you lie down to sleep, apparently at peace with where we are now and how I feel about you.
I made mistakes. You made mistakes. We hurt each other and we hurt other people, but once upon a time you told me things that made me feel like the king of the world. Once upon a time, your love made me so strong and so confident that I felt like I could do anything (again, with the cliches). If anyone who has read my work enjoys Summers in Prague or Dancing With Hamlet, they owe that enjoyment to you. You inspired me. You were my muse be it through character development or simply conversations that you and I shared. Once up on a time, you told me that I was important to you and you didn’t want to live without me. Times change and clearly you can live without me. I can deal with that, and I’m sure that I will eventually heal completely from this, but I’m also sure that this process would speed up a bit if I had some closure from you.
This letter is just one more scream into the void: me, standing at the precipice of your absence and hoping that you’ll hear some echo and call back.
I’ve yet to find a song that describes my situation. I suppose a sad one will have to do for now.
If someone said three years from now
You’d be long gone
I’d stand up and punch them out
’Cause they’re all wrong
I know better
’Cause you said forever