Today Anna Sullivan asked me how I was doing. I was floored, and touched, to hear that a person (slightly to the left of acquaintance on the friend-stranger spectrum) from college is still curious and caring and being wonderful now, over a week after the breakup, when it feels like everyone but me has moved on. Slightly later she asked me whether I liked living with my parents. The answer was "sometimes." Being here can be comforting and familiar and easy, but sometimes it's hard to breathe, like sharing the air in a closed room. I want my own air.
Tonight I met David for dinner in Fredericksburg. I wasn't sure whether it would be a good idea or a disaster. I'm not sure now whether it was one or the other, neither, or both. I met him at the river, which I never once visited as a student. It's flooded and beautiful, mystifying and frightening. The sun was setting and it was windy, and I was cold and in awe, watching waves so like the ones that nearly killed me once, and reflecting on the experience. We tried a new restaurant, a mediocre Thai place with very nice waitresses, and then wandered around my old campus, because I missed it. We went back to my car and said goodnight, and I wanted to kiss him, and knew I shouldn't, and he wouldn't. He left at 9:30. I sat in my car and cried like a crazy person for thirty minutes before texting Anna Tuckweiller, because I cannot bring myself to call people when I am in a state. Every car that passed or drove nearby was like a razor, because every car was not David's, because David was not coming back, because David is not my boyfriend, and David will probably not be my boyfriend, and David will probably learn to love someone else. Those, particularly the last one, kept (and keep) hitting me over and over like so many ocean waves, with the tide coming in. Luckily Anna is wonderful and called me and talked to me until I could breathe, until I could keep my eyes clear enough to drive, and almost all the way home. She is one of the wisest and most loving people that I know.
I feel like a divorcee. Sometimes I even find myself missing the ring that was never on my finger. I feel mostly okay, and then fall apart at unexpected times. This sadness though is different from any other that I can remember experiencing. It's not like any other sadness I've ever felt. Every other time I've been depressed, it has been capital-D Depression, and I've been terrified. It's like falling down a bottomless hole, or accidentally driving off a precipice. Sometimes it makes me feel like Prometheus, chained to the rock, waiting for Ethon to tear him open again and again and again. This is qualitatively different. I'm terribly sad, and things hurt a lot, but in a way, it's ok. I know that this is a time for me to be sad, and I know that things will be better again, and life will go on. Even though right now I find it painful to consider any of the possibilities that the future holds for me or for David, I know that it will get easier. Where living with depression is like driving along and knowing that at some point you're going to drive over a cliff (but not knowing when or where, and not being able to stop or change course), this is more like driving through a thunderstorm. I know the rain will stop someday. I know the clouds will clear.