She walked out on you when you were a little girl who needed her to braid your hair because Daddy didnít know how to do it. She didnít mean to walk out, but the bottle made her do it, and once she did, she couldnít look herself in the eye, so she avoided mirrors and drank more bottles. And now youíre grown and you can braid your own hair and you survived in spite of her and youíre pregnant, and sheís gonna be a grandmother, and you want her to know you turned out pretty dang good, if you do say so yourself.
So you†write the letter and open your heart and you tell her how it hurt when she walked away and left your little girl heart cracked wide open with no instructions for repairing it. You tell her how many times youíve dreamed of having her rock you in her arms, even now, and how many times youíve cried because other people got mothers who baked them cookies and kissed their boo-boos.† You tell her you understand, that youíre not mad anymore, that you forgive her – really, you do. And that all you want now is for her to know how much you love her, maybe even to see her again, just for coffee or even for your baby shower. And then you wait. And wait. And wait. And itís been weeks and she hasnít called or written back. And your quivering open heart, exposed and vulnerable, remembers what it felt like when you were seven and you watched her go out that door, not realizing youíd never see her again. You cry like a child, and the sobs wrack you. Your heart aches so much you want to close your heart back up, sew it up with big black rope, bar the door with chain metal and armored locks, never open that heart again.
But you donít because life is too precious.
* * *
Youíve been BFFs since you lost your first tooth. You fixed each otherís hair for prom when you both went stag, and even though you knew they might make fun of you, you danced with each other to Alphavilleís ďForever Young.Ē When your fiancť broke it off the day of the wedding, when you were already wearing the white dress, you sobbed in her arms, your heart open wide like a surgeon had just sawed through your ribcage. When you finally found love again, she was the maid of honor in your wedding – and you were hers.† Then her husband calls you one morning at 2am and makes a pass at you. Youíre shocked, appalled. Your heart is broken on behalf of your best friend. You know you must tell her. You have to tell her. So you break the news as gently and lovingly as you can. And she turns her back to you. Walks out. You call. You leave messages. You write letters. You wait. You keep your heart open. You forgive her for not calling back. You know you did the right thing. You love her like crazy. Itís been a year, and your heart hurts so much you feel like someone took out an organ and forgot to put it back. You think about closing your heart. She had her chance. You were just being a good friend. Fuck her. Fuck her. (But if your heart is closed, why are you still crying?)
You want to cut her out of your heart. Remove her like a cancer.† Fill up the hole with chocolate or wine or a new pair of Manolo Blahniks.
But you donít, because, in spite of it all, you still love her.
* * *
You didnít mean to fall in love with him. You thought it was just a harmless crush and then it crushed you like a bulldozer. You didnít see it coming, and if you had, you would have run far, far away because itís an impossible love. You canít have him. He canít have you. Maybe itís some crazy past life thing because your relationship makes no sense. You shouldnít love him. You shouldnít feel this deep soul connection with him. Plus, heíd be crazy to love you back, not that he does – or does he?† You shouldnít tell him how you feel. It would be a total disaster.† What if he loves you back? (Does he?) You try to convince yourself itís nothing. Itís just a silly crush. It will go away. You get pissed off at him when heís sometimes there for you, then he disappears.† Youíre getting mixed signals. He pushes, he pulls. Youíre confused. How dare he, when you care for him like this? But youíre not really mad. Itís just a defense mechanism to protect your vulnerable, fragile heart.
Finally the truth washes over you and you just canít lie to yourself anymore. You canít keep up the act, faking it like you donít feel it, pretending to be cool and casual, when youíre hurting. So you tell him. You bare your heart. You confess everything youíve been holding inside. And then he is silent. He doesnít say he loves you back. He doesnít say he doesnít. You wait. More silence. Is he just overwhelmed with your confession? Is he confused by his own love for you? Or is he just not that into you? Your heart is naked, open, waiting. Then there is more silence and you want to pull your heartstrings closer together. Leaving it open feels so raw, like your heart is bleeding love and youíre hemorrhaging all over the floor. You want to close it back up. Keep it safe. Never let anyone in again.
But you donít, because love canít get in when your heart is closed.
* * *