May 20th 2013
Story originally written and experienced: January 5th 2012
She had one extra ticket.
For a movie screening in downtown Manhattan. She kept one for herself. And she offered the extra one to me.
I said yes.
I met Leah at the corner of Houston and Eldridge
At approximately 7:15 pm. “It’s called Sunshine Cinemas” she said. “I’m jumping on the subway now, and I’ll see you soon.”
She was perfectly on time. She usually was. And I trailed in 2 minutes too late. Like I usually did. She handed me my free ticket when she saw me. And also a voucher that said “Good for one free popcorn. And one free drink.”
We walked inside and claimed our complimentary treats. And I watched as she nervously shuffled for napkins and
s c a n n e d
the counter for straws. And it was then I could tell that we had made a silent agreement to keep our minds distracted from the unexpected news she had heard the night before.
About the person she cut out of her life a long time ago. And how she always cared that he wasn’t around anymore.
But not as much as she did today.
She finally retrieved both the napkin and the straws. And we
into the movie theater ready to choose our velvet seating of choice.
We sat near the center. But a little to the right
We placed our cups in their respective holders.
And she held my popcorn as I
u n b u t t o n e d my coat.
Eventually I broke our silent agreement.
And asked her if she was okay.
But our conversation was interrupted.
By the dimming lights and the glowing screen.
The movie was painfully familiar.
Chock-full of graphic sex scenes, nostalgic songs and the idea of infinite love.
And each one of these glowing scenes would light up the theater and reflect off of her face. A face that was relatively stoic. Only showcasing a hint of nostalgia, and a small side of regret. And I guess it was then that I realized this hope of distraction, wasn’t exactly going according to plan.
The final scene was signaled
I b-u-t-t-o-n-e-d up my coat, cRiNkLed the left over bag of popcorn in my hands and sipped on the remnants of my complimentary drink. I stood up to leave
But when I looked back at our off-center seating
She was still sitting there
Staring at the screen
Drink still in the holder
Bag still uNcRiNkLeD at her feet
So I sat down too.
I didn’t want to ask her.
But she said it first anyway.
“You know, Olive. That sucked a lot more than I thought it would. Watching that movie, I mean.”
“…Did it make you think about it?”
“I figured it might.”
“Made me think about all of it. Him. Her…Them.”
II She paused II
And then continued. >
“The thing is we haven’t talked in a long time. A long, long time. But I guess what I got accustomed to, was my life without him. But not necessarily his life without me. That I was okay without him. Not at first. But eventually I was. That I could eventually replace him, or have some flings to mimic him and ultimately move away from it all. And now that he’s found someone else. A new me. I guess I never really thought about him doing that too. And I guess I just kind of forgot that
Moving on was a two person job.
Is that weird?”
“Who do you think leaned in first?”
“What do you mean?”
“The first time they kissed. Who do you think leaned in first. Him or her?”
“I’m not sure. Maybe her?”
“You know that song they played in the rolling credits?”
“Do you think he thinks about me when he hears that song too?”
“Maybe you’re right.”
“Olive, do you ever think it’s strange that the people we end up cutting out of our lives, or the ones that cut us out of theirs…were once the absolute opposite? Regardless of the reason, isn’t it so strange that before any of it happens, their existence was entirely too practical. Entirely too necessary. And entirely too easy. And then things change.
And suddenly they’re the person that makes you feel the absolute definition of desperation and defeat.
It’s like you’re holding their hand, but they’re hands are made of fucking fire. But you don’t let go of them. Even though it kind of burns, because it never used to hurt. Keeping them around, I mean. But then eventually it becomes too much. And you have to let go, because realistically, burning doesn’t really feel so good. Not at all. So you do it. You let go. And you walk away. And you heal. In some way. And some of us go back. Just to see if it doesn’t burn anymore. Only because it never used to.
It used to feel pretty great.
But not all of us go back.
In fact, most of us…attempt to eliminate that option entirely…why do you think that is? Do you…do you think he’s forgotten about me?”
And I remember telling her. In the empty movie theater. As we
No human is immune to nostalgia.
That the entire conversation we just had would never be heard by him. And her initial reaction to his new girlfriend was never recorded. That every memory trigger she involuntarily felt whether it was the smell of the a business man in an elevator wearing his same cologne, or an old letter shoved under a bed only to be reread during spring cleaning.
Would never be known.
At least not to him.
And up until now,
She was deaf to his unrecorded nostalgia as well.
And then I remember asking her why she cut him out in the first place. And she told me that their relationship was becoming entirely too toxic. That suddenly her self-worth and her self-respect would rest on his responses, and hoping for the way things used to be was becoming entirely too exhausting. That he was once the person that made her feel like the best version of herself.
And suddenly she found herself turning into a version that was virtually unrecognizable.
So she cut him out. An action deemed heartless and cold.
Masking the real definition of “seemingly necessary and always with reason.”
Complete with the warning label:
Physically erasing someone doesn’t mean emotionally erasing them as well.
And it never will.
But it sure seems that way. And it probably feels that way too.
But if you were to think about it, if you were to really really think about it. Your presence, existence and overall character were so powerful and so important, that even 10 years later you could make their heart
The minute you walked into a room.
Or make them sit in an empty movie theater with a friend.
Asking that friend if you even give a damn.
Even though we both know you do. And they do too.
And the thing is. It doesn’t make us bad people for cutting people out. And it doesn’t make us bad people for being cut out either. It’s a human response to defending our pride and kick-starting the necessary. And never to forget
It’s an emotional decision, not a business one.
And maybe, just maybe, their cameo in your life…really was designated for that allotted amount of time. Or maybe, just maybe, it really was meant to be broken up
And regardless if they come back into their life, or you go back into theirs, or no one comes back at all, to remember that it all happened for a reason. And probably a damn good one at that.
And how beautifully unreliable or incredibly stable that reason can really be.
Because when you cut someone out of your life, or someone cuts you out of theirs, it always seems to fall into one of three categories:
A. For the better
B. Never permanent
C. All of the above