There’s a particular type of pain that comes with entirety.
Losing everything we have is devastating in its own right, but there is, perhaps a mercy in the absence. There’s a different, inescapable relentlessness when a relationship ends and everything that came about as a result of that relationship is all still there.
When you’ve only ever experienced a certain world through the lens of that former relationship — and only ever expected to — seeing it any other way can seem nearly impossible.
We weren’t together when she moved to the city. I was not a part of her life at the time, not a part of the decision, not a part of her considerations, first impressions, or experiences. When I moved to be near her months later, it was still new enough to her to be interesting, but she’d already known it without me.
I moved with the understanding that things between us may not work out. I had been ready to move anyway, and I was truly enamored with the city to which she moved. It was my decision, and I knew that I might have to live with that alone, but it would be dishonest to say it had nothing to do with her. It never would have occurred to me to consider it, otherwise.
When I visited before I moved, she picked me up at the station. There literally were not two initial steps between the city and I that didn’t involve her from the beginning. She helped me find an apartment and a temporary job to ease the transition.
From the moment I moved, I spent much more of my time in her apartment than in mine. I slept there at night, walked her dog throughout the day, and went grocery shopping with her. I got to know every door and window downtown while walking that dog, and together my girlfriend and I sampled every grocery store looking for the one that felt right.
We discovered every restaurant, park, store, and theater together; and we perfected a cooperative approach to the two weekly farmers’ markets…