My record for breakups with one woman is nineteen. She was a beautiful Chippewa princess with licorice hair and a kiss so soft you only felt it as a lump in your throat. We first met in New Orleans, and then randomly in San Francisco, but mostly we hung out in Denver. We’d breakup and get back together again like a circadian rhythm. She was better at the breaking up part, instigating thirteen of them, while I can only take credit for five. The getting back together part was more-or-less down the middle. Our fifteenth breakup was the most painful. The eighth one was pretty hilarious, looking back. Breakups four and five could probably be considered two sides of the same breakup, and there’s still some debate over that, but I’m sticking with calling them two separate breakups. Breakup number one was just stupid and neither of us really understood why it went down. I remember breakup eighteen staring out over a red canyon with high tide rising at my back. I have no memory of breakup nineteen; I just know it must’ve happened.
Sometimes it takes nineteen breakups to do the trick. Sometimes a thing has to be broken over and over again before it can be fixed for good.
Some love goes away. Some love never goes away. You have to go away from love before you can find out if love ever plans on going away from you. But if you stray too far then lingering love can become a haunting thing. It influences every dream. It hides under the fingernails of every decision. You may have gone away from it, but it stays with you, clinging to your shoulders, and the road back feels a hundred times longer. It becomes burdensome, not because of the love, but because of the road. The road presses up on the feet of the traveler haunted by love.
There are exes you can see again, go out drinking with, flirt and laugh with. There are exes you can meet on a lonely evening for a fuck and a smoke. And there are exes with whom it is too dangerous to allow even a moment’s eye contact. These are not exes at all, and never will be, and that’s the problem.