The Rest of the Way
After playing several more shows on my way out west, I ended up in Los Angeles. I remember the final hour of the drive in, where you feel like you're there but the city's so expansive that you've still got a ways to go.
I got a call from Lucy. She seemed relieved that I made it into town. "You're doing what you wanted to do," and so on. "I'm proud of you," etcetera. I really missed her at that moment but for some reason her words made me feel sick. They always did when there was distance between us. Still, I longed for her to call. I guess its sort of strange wanting to hear from her, knowing it would rouse that familiar and particular anxiety in myself.
I haven't talked about her much with you. Lucy was my girlfriend of about 4 years. I really thought we were moving in the right direction. She was patient with me, and I was pretty good to her. Our relationship was defined by a resilience gained through several periods of long separation. One month away. Three months. Seven. Two. One. Wash, rinse, repeat.
I wouldn't trade those periods of separation for anything. My immature impulses and longings were tempered by a crash course in patience. It was sink or swim, and sinking felt so possible at that time. I had to learn how to pick myself up.
Lucy showed me strength when I was weak. I had no realistic understanding of myself. I struggled mightily with alcohol. I avoided problems and I was scared. She was patient. She was kind. She was brilliant. She was driven.
I watched and learned from the strongest friend I'd ever made. I fell in love with her immediately, and feared losing her the second after. Learning to let her go, over and over again, made me strong. Loving her made me want to become a better person. She set me on a path that made me believe in my life again, and so I began to change.
Though, maybe I hadn't changed enough for her. She called me three days later. I was in the middle of cutting a vocal, singing "If I could take back anything, it wouldn't be my love."
She made it clear that when I returned we wouldn't be as we were. I didn't fight it, I didn't disagree with her logic. I let it wash over me. The hardest part was going to be grieving the loss of my best friend, but that didn't mean we shouldn't be strong once again. Lucy was making a real and difficult decision about the path of her life.
I walked back inside, took the headphones to my head, and hit record. The lyrics had taken on a new weight once I managed to sing them aloud.
The thought of losing her hit me everyday until I figured out that I wasn't losing her. I had lost her. At first, I held a kernel of hope. Maybe this wasn't too dissimilar to our periods of separation. Our seven month break, while not motivated by relational discord, had a distinct open-endedness. Maybe I could still talk her back into my arms.
We did talk a bit more after that conversation. I wondered, "should I hold back, not seem desperate, not seem needy?" I tried not to call or text, or seem too broken. So I didn't. She reached out to me. When I heard her speak of why she needed this, that she still loved me but this had to happen, I knew I wasn't going to change her mind. I didn't even want to. What good would it do? I want her to get what she wants from her life. I'm not going to be the reason she doesn't.
So now I'm here. In the midst of life, without my best friend, finding strength and support all around me. Most importantly, I'm beginning to find it within me. I get scared, and I get down. I've been happy too. Its hard, and that's ok. I'm going to be patient, the rest of the way.