They name thee before me,
A knell to mine ear;
A shudder comes o’er me—
Why wert thou so dear?
They know not I knew thee,
Who knew thee too well—
Long, long I shall rue thee,
Too deeply to tell.
Letting go of people is harder than I once thought.
Or the process of moving on past someone takes just a lot of time.
It takes a lot of story happening, simply so that you move out of the chapter of your life that is marked by "Them" and move on to a new chapter that is untouched by their specific personality.
That is the first step of moving on past someone. You have to move on physically, so that their image does not barrage your daily vision.
You think of all the million lessons they taught you: what an indie band was, Who The Good Poets Are, the Edmund Waller poem you still know by heart, that "Should" is a moral statement, and one can never say "thank you" too much.
And you wonder if they remember what you taught them: Mumford & Sons, TED Talks, feminist theory, Martha is better than Mary, the taste of Vincent Van Gogh, and the importance of Pride & Prejudice.
There is a vague, and somewhat morbid, curiosity that perpetuates our interest in our dead relationships just as it perpetuates our interest in the human departed. Things that are gone are tinged with mystery: the beings we bury in the hard past or in the softer ground are fascinating in their inaccessibility.
I really hate losing things. Having a lose thread in the tightly woven fabric of life irks me. The unanswered question and the cliffhanger story, the lack of closure frets at me. Currently, outstanding objects lost include: one (1) blue maxi dress from Target, an unopened peppermint chapstick I put in my pocket last night, and my Dropbox password.
Losing relationships is difficult. It is a loose thread I am constantly tempted to tug at, to see what part of the fabric will ripple away.
We are so quick to insist that we are constant, that we are permanent. We like to think of ourselves as an unchanging constant, a monolith of stability. When, really, humans are fluid beings, morphing and changing, shedding our old skin as we grow into new. As it should be: stagnation is foreign to our nature. Until we reach our final destination, we are not yet fully ourselves. There are new chambers of our hearts and facets of our personalities to discover.
One summer day, I remember responding to a friend's text, and accidentally deleted an old string of messages that I hadn't intended to delete, that I was preserving there precariously like digital saint's knuckles. A cold surge of dismay rushed through me as I watched the small trash can icon fill with garbage, as each small paperless missile disappeared into the ether.
One of the truly sadistic features of my dumbphone is that, sometimes, in order to listen to new voicemails, you have to go through and re-save all the old voicemails you want to keep. In the process of doing this, you have to re-listen to old messages you've been holding onto since 2009. Occasionally, I purge old messages. But it takes a long time to let go.
Recently, I was scrolling through old emails. Emails that, as my mother will rightly tell me, ought to be deleted. One day. Eventually, we delete the voicemails and the text strings, accidentally or intentionally. The business of living crowding out all the miscellanea nostalgia would demand we retain.
Slowly, I can begin to look on old relationships with a fondness and detachment. They are memorials of people who once were, who have grown up into not something else entirely, but have grown deeper, newer, and perhaps truer to the final image. We can appreciate the goodness of what was there, and the doors of our selves that they unlocked, but recognize how they were timestamped from another lifetime.