Thursday, 1 March 2012

You're there but you're not

I used to wait for the divorce. I used to ache for it; for the day when you finally left. I reasoned then, that without you here we could finally get to know one another. The logic seemed irrational to everyone else. But they didn't see what I did; they didn't feel what I felt.

Most days that was nothing.

When my friend's parents got divorced, they went on outings to the park and the circus and all the other kinds of places that kids go to have fun; all the other clich├ęs. They had hour long phone calls every night and enquiries of their days at school and a genuine interest in who they were as people, a concern for who they were going to be. And even though it wasn't perfect, I wanted all of that too. 

Perfection's a myth anyway.

No one understood my longing. Everyone thought we had it all. From the outside we looked the picture of happiness, whatever that is. Just like the couple along the road; the way they held hands walking up the hill and kissed each other goodbye at the front porch. They looked so happy and content and their love was one to aim for. No one knew that he would pummel fists into her flesh where none could see. No one knew that she would drink a bottle of vodka before he returned home. We never knew what went on behind their closed doors until he flung her through them, along with a suitcase of clothes; until their problems lay bleeding in the street, surrounded by shards of glass and splintered wood and clothes fluttering in the breeze with the distant wail of sirens.

Behind our doors, you were there; sitting in your chair. You always sit in the chair; the one with the groove of your backside and two elbow-sized dents in each armrest. There's an extra cut of carpet under foot because you've worn away the underneath with your shoes. Everyone else leaves theirs at the door. But not you. You stomp and tread your rebellion into every soft surface until it's harden from the repeated knocks.

It used to annoy me, watching you sit there, within my reach, engulfed by an unwavering silence of expectation. I'm still waiting for the things you'll never say and the stuff you'll never do; the moments we'll never have. At least I know where to find you. That's what they say. That's the bright side; the silver lining of this ominous lingering cloud. But there's always an unpleasantness waiting for a storm to break; a tight coil of tension unbearable and uncomfortable the longer we wait for release.

Some days I've never wished for rain so much.

But for the most part, I'm used to it now; that thick tense drought that hangs like a weight around my neck, slowing my responses and my movements and my ability to truly care. As stifling as it seems I don't think I'd know how to breathe without it. 

Not that you would know that. You should, because you're there; in your chair. You always have been. The divorce never came and you never left and we never did get to know one another.

And it still amazes me after all these years that proximity and closeness are two very different things. I always assumed that you can't have one without the other. But we are the exception, you and me. We may coexist in the same space, in the same house, we may breathe the same air, but our time-lines never meet, our paths never cross. Sometimes I might approach that line, I might waver along it but the wall is built too strong, too high. Just like some rocks aren't supposed to be moved, some walls aren't built to be broken.

So I understand. I get it; you're there. You always have been. But I still don't know how I feel about that.