So I booked this trip back in November, with only a vague inkling of knowledge that I had to get out of New York. It was less about visiting Honolulu as going somewhere warm that wasn't my home. My city had started to feel too cloying, too claustrophobic, too much. I didn't even know then how much more so it would start to feel, only that I would probably thank myself later. I didn't know I would start to feel like I was spiraling somewhere I didn't want to be, learning things I have no business knowing, intoxicating, alluring and glittering with promise as those things may be.
I was so intent on that escape I didn't think much about whether escape is ever truly possible, I just knew I needed out. Maybe in the back of my mind I thought this transition from hurt to whole, from wishing I had something and someone I don't to simply grateful for this body, this brain, this heart, this life, would be seamless, wrapped up with an exotic excursion. I didn't realize many things, one of them being that that Adele song I played about a hundred times last year, "Someone Like You," would be playing all over Oahu, every day, pretty much everywhere. I heard it at cafes, in stores, blasting out of a trolley. I heard Kiana covering it on the street on Kalakaua.
Maybe I played it so many times myself, more than any other from that album, hoping to discern its essence, hoping to get to that place the Adele in the song is, where she can see her ex years later and truly wish him the best, instead of having the most bittersweet moments like I seem to do. I seemingly only listened to the ex part of the song, instead of the title, because when did in fact remind me of my ex, not because they share the same name, but plenty of other similarities, in enough ways, I was sortof shocked that that could even be possible. It made me wonder if I could handle any of those reminders, made me realize my infatuation with that song was more than a little misguided.
In fact, I didn't really want to meet someone like him, in any way. I would've told you I wanted to meet someone the opposite of him, and on closer inspection, they are not really so similar, except in the most surface of ways, ways someone who doesn’t know them would pinpoint. And the truth is beneath the surface, the searing jealousy, so fierce it takes my breath away at times, beneath the extreme inadequacy I feel when faced with it, there is an even deeper, stronger undercurrent of all the reasons I fell for this person, the reason his presence is almost like white noise in the background of my mind.
It's hard to leave behind my all or nothing thinking, hard to leave behind anything I've held onto my whole life, to admit that, but it's true. Every time I heard that song this past week, it reminded me that I can avoid my city, I can avoid the incessant, ubiquitous reminders, but it doesn't negate the fact that what I treasured most about that relationship is encapsulate in the word written on my arm. It's easier to rely on that surface sheen of darkness because to go deeper and recall those glory days, that cookie I ate for dinner that tasted like the best thing in the world, the way the next day I could see us reflected back in windows, could feel the vibrations from all the way across that city, their city, my city.
I'm so wary these days, so prickly, so uncertain, that the second I saw those similarities, I wanted to take a step back, say no thank you, not me. I'm not done yet, still too tender inside, too rare, too soft. It's like that song "Ladyfingers" by Luscious Jackson except I don't have any hard shell around me; I have nothing to cling to for protection, for safety. WYSIWYG. And yet. Maybe it's possible to appreciate those glory days for what they were while making new ones. Maybe one door is still ajar, just enough to let a sliver of light in, and the other is inching open a little bit more than that, almost despite me.
Except I don't want anything to happen despite me, I don't want to start anything if I can't do the only thing that made those glory days worth it, which is give all of myself, every last bit of me, even when it meant trembling in a hallway, or wandering through a strange city, or wishing I could be the book landing on the floor of my stairs with a thud so strong it echoes in my head all these months later. There will probably always be a part of me that wants to be that book, wants to be that girl who watched and felt it fall, who fell, in her way, for the umpteenth time, right along with it.
The door is ajar just enough to let me take a lot of shuddering breaths as I sit here crying in the lobby of a hotel while flight attendants are packing up and dance music is playing and I could be anywhere in the world, and clearly I haven't given it that nudge to click it closed all the way. I've held on to it because there is still a little bit of that magnetism, that sense that everything else can be gone in a flash, stripped away in service of something even more powerful, even grander.
I thought that in order to move forward, to open that next door, I had to go back, back to before that moment on the street in Greenpoint, tremulous voice and all. Except there is no going back. I can't be that girl again, no matter how much I wish I could, and that girl may have been more innocent but there were a lot of transformative, brilliant things she couldn't have even imagined existed and I don't want to be so cynical I disown those moments, because that's not who I am. I've tried to embrace cynicism as a way of life, as a survival tactic, and it's never lasted long, certainly not long enough.
In my optimistic moments I'd like to think I'm better for that twisted mix of glory days and their opposite, wiser, something, but you don't get a stamp on your heart like a passport you can flip through, a been there, done that badge. There's no Foursquare for love. I spent so long trying to figure out how to be someone else, how to be someone better, more worthy, more special, because I wanted it to be like a puzzle and once I solved it I'd get that prize again, that chance to be that book, to be that girl on the phone, the girl clutching her beautiful bruises close. Maybe, though, there's nothing to solve, no magic trick, nothing else I have to do but be me, which is a mixed blessing if ever there was one, something simultaneously simple and devilishly difficult. How to be a girl I hate and love in the extreme, how to ask someone else to handle those warring factions within me. But maybe I don't have to ask. Maybe I don't have to do anything, don't have to travel far, literally or figuratively, to get to that place., except look, and listen, and be open. And like another of my beloved Adele songs, I suppose I can be my own savior, and still open that door, even if I have no idea what's on the other side.
I just asked if I have to bring anything else on my date that I wish were happening right now, and I was told just to bring my fabulous self. So I will.