Today didn’t turn out like I expected it to. It’s not raining, but it should be. The humid air suffocates the sweet summer sounds, weighing on my fingers, as heavy as the burden of the truth. The seaglass sky, absent streaks of sunset, deepens to periwinkle clouds pregnant with doubt that the rains will cool us off tonight. I’m writing in the hot seat anyway, so the nape of my neck doesn’t mind the beads of sweat.
I’ve aimed the last few days of summer vacation into creating necessary closure related to my broken engagement. It’s been more than two months since our epic post-prom break up, the details of which aren’t suitable blogging material. Maintaining a public forum where I write about my life equates a willingness to be vulnerable. When I dig myself deep into a pit and have to claw my way out, my weekly writing nights force me to take inventory of all aspects of myself.
I can’t pen everything that’s happened over the past two months into the annals of my blog; I’ve committed to honesty, and it’s difficult to be authentic while trying to respect others’ privacy. I write to find the truth, and when I stumble into a plot twist, riding it out in the wrong direction, it’s usually here that that unwritten discovery is made. My life’s missteps are most clear to me when I know I can’t write openly about them without hurting others or myself.
Given the nature of our long distance relationship, I am not going to run into any of my ex’s friends or family any time soon. Those closest to us who were privy to the whole sordid affair are entitled to brand me with a scarlet letter, question my narrative, and ultimately write me off. My family wasn’t so lucky, bound by blood and love ties. I found quickly two months ago that since it was my deception that caused the ever widening gyre between us, and nobody including me was ready to jump into twister to sort through all the spinning perceptions to find the actual truth, that I wasn’t strong enough to fight for anything but getting myself back up to make a way forward for myself. I let them go spiraling instead.
The bluish-purple clouds are indistinguishable from the night’s sky now. Periwinkle used to be my favorite color. I wasn’t lying when I claimed that in my youth. I didn’t know it would change. In making concessions to close doors on my latest failed relationship, truth and lies make strange bedfellows with doubt. Favorite colors are fickle phases for kids, but favorite people carry much stronger responsibilities; when your favorite people sow seeds of doubt, the repercussions will come. Like the sky when I sat down to write, just desperate to let go of all the clouds are holding onto, the storm will be real… and it is still only just brewing.
On Saturday, I opened the closure attempts by sitting through the familiar traffic near Fredericksburg on 95 to spend the day in Old Town Alexandria. It was the set for my Hallmark movie romance with Charming, and if ever I was to discover I’d made the wrong choice, maybe it would happen on the Riverfront. I made myself sit in places we had been. I ate Bugsy’s pizza. I remembered all of our incredible memories, all the Saturday routines on King Street. I sat on the edge of the dock and looked out at the Ferris wheel across the ocean and remembered dozens of adventures. I did love him, and we were happy. It was true for a long time, but my smile in our pictures from down by the water had been mostly half true since late last spring.
I was comforted by the memory of amazing days with an amazing man, and I was also reassured that the seeds of doubt began a long time ago. I was also proud of myself for facing all of our special places, trying to somehow honor the relationship by paying respects, mentally apologizing to the rocks where I used to read him G.K. Chesterton stories. It didn’t feel good, but the hurt was a peaceful one. I was still on the docks watching the Ferris wheel spin others round and round, and I was grateful to be still.
In the dark on the drive home, it stormed so badly you couldn’t see the lines on the road and each swish of water threatens to make cars hydroplane and collide. And if I write responsibly about that night, my ability to avoid pronouns would allow me to tell the truth as I am willing to reveal it without divulging other details I’m not sure how to write into my public narrative yet, perhaps because in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, there are more weighty writing battles for me to face.
That is why I write it. I would admit to any fault if charged. I’ve learned to own my personal season of being the villain for people in real life while maintaining my one-hundred-seventy-some Tuesday nights of writing through tragedy and joy: because it’s in my brokenness where the silent see a light for themselves even if I might be missing that in the periwinkle dusk or a fierce highway downpour. I had said goodbye to Alexandria, and I woke up in my little home in Hampton. That afternoon, someone I respect greatly shared that I had become one of her favorite authors. The compliment struck me such that honored isn’t a powerful enough sentiment. To be a source of solace and hope to one human being while knowing the pain and discord others have felt is equally as sobering as the spinning Ferris wheel.
The closure continued this week as I finalized engagement gift returns, trying to rectify a mess of geographical proportions while experiencing the appropriate feelings of guilt and shame as I reached out to people I’ll likely never see again, who are justified to feel as they feel, but each of whom gave me greater gifts in how they lived their lives, people I genuinely miss. One mentioned she still reads my blog, and it gives me some solace and hope that there is life after the scarlet letter.
I love to write, but I never imagined being a favorite author. There have been a lot of nights this past year I didn’t want to face the readers to whom I was giving an unhappy ending. I heard it said once that the truth may hurt for a little while, but a lie hurts forever. In the midst of gift return conversations today, I discovered a wealth of ongoing lies and betrayals, now more than two months’ deep. Born of love and good intentions, deception cleans up nicely. Those who believe in karma might be satisfied by the plot’s iconic irony. My gym mentor Chuck tried to reframe the situation with one of his original one-liners that left me speechless.
“Doubt is the liar that never gets the truth.”
People sow seeds of doubt in half truths, or by avoiding specifics. Writer’s do it to, though I’d like to commit tonight to living a life I can write about publically without causing pain to some and inspiration to others. We control perception with our words. I’ve heard too many versions of the truth to want to jump back into that gyre again. I don’t blame anyone else for fleeing the scene because I know how hard it is to face someone after they find out you’ve been lying to them.
In reality, in the moment I am in right now, I think there’s too much doubt to ever get the truth, and maybe it’s best to let the pursuit of it go. My current perception is only real now. In a month, I might see this truth differently. It’s human nature to explain how things worked out for the best in retrospect, after that other door has already opened. Maybe it’s time to start writing the book I can’t blog about, now, before the ending comes about and I see all of this differently. I don’t want the doubt time’s shadow will cast to affect the perceived narrative. I messed up, and I’m starting over. And I’m going to be okay, even if some of those favorite people don’t believe in me now. I’ve got to find a better ending, because the broken engagement was a plot twist that threw us all, but I’m still writing a story with this life of mine from this white wicker love seat in Hampton.