Health

(Road) Tripping Without You – P.S. I Love You

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Because I Finally Can

Tre L. Loadholt

We load the girls up for the trip back to my place and I get in the car, turn on the radio, and listen to one of my favorite gospel segments. I try not to think of you, but that’s hard. The Powerhouse has another project linked to a well-known client so it is up to me to give the girls a few days of bliss, exercise, good eats, and plenty of rest.

Not. A. Problem.

We happen to be three well in-tuned beings and while they’re both with me, we are almost — always on one accord. I wish that was us. I wish that could have been us. I try not to think about who we were when I was fast-pacing it through college, learning how heavy love could be and how hurtful it is too. I have rid myself of the extra weight I picked up and saddled my body with only to be full of nothing.

My primary care physician was floored by the amount of weight I lost. She informed me that my BMI is just “at the cusp.” It has taken me three years to reshape what had been out of shape — my body was crying and I forced myself to hear it. I realized it needed me more than I needed you. Have you ever damaged yourself so badly that a few of your limbs succumbed to getting numb, lost their sturdiness, and caused you to fall regularly out of nowhere? My left leg has a permanent scar below the calf all the way to my ankle from the persistent muscle cramps and spasms that once plagued it.

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I wanted not to feel you pressing up against my breasts. I wanted not to feel your breath lingering behind my ears. I wanted everything in my system and you too to die — sadly it has taken me the better part of twelve years to begin the purge, but I am making great headway.

J. Moss’s “Victory” shoots itself into my ears and I bob my head up and down and start tapping my fingers on the steering wheel. Snippets of your poems show themselves and along with them is your voice and I am suddenly reminded of Stevie Budd — the sassy, sarcastically bold motel clerk turned Owner from Schitt’s Creek and I smile. I miss who I was with you. I know that girl is now this woman, but I still miss her and I am unsure of how to get her back. There are so many things I want to share — need to share with you, but I have found what I needed in me most and the path for my growth no longer includes you.

Funny . . . I used to think I meant more than enough to you to make you change your life around to permanently include me. I will admit now that my ego was bigger than its actual size during those years and I have a better understanding of it — I know how to keep it quiet. I ignore it.

Mom asked about you the other day and I almost bit my tongue in response. It dawned on me that I had not mentioned you in quite some time and she had grown used to that — my mentioning of you. The inevitable awkward silence clogged my brain and I told her you were busy being who you are, doing it ten times better, and doing it without me. She looked at me and shook her head, then got up to wash the few dishes we dirtied during lunch. I stood at the kitchen’s entrance and watched her methodically perform a task that could be considered art in her hands. She doesn’t just wash the dishes, she cleans them — rids them of all debris and makes them appear shiny and new.

I still can’t do that.

I wonder how hard it would be to wash ourselves clean, methodically — make us appear shiny and new. I yearn for the day when my heart beats rhythmically to something other than your voice. It’s holding on. It hasn’t let go. I scream for it to loosen its grip, but it wants you more now that we are older. Now that there’s a chance I’ll be alone.

Tasha Cobbs Leonard’s voice creeps in and I wipe the tears that suddenly appear. “You Know My Name” stirs up something in me that I cannot describe. You used to sit and watch me get emotional — acknowledge my sad eyes, and say, “Just let the tears fall, babe.” I do now. I let the tears fall. Along with them comes a cleansing. A mini-baptizing of my spirit takes place on the drive back to Central North Carolina. Jernee looks up from her seat, paws me and I look at her questioning eyes, and whisper to her, “I am okay little one.” She is good at her job — on guard and protective.

I am learning how to put myself first — to properly care for a broken heart instead of acting like it doesn’t exist. I pamper it, remind it that it will heal, and offer it my condolences for the loves it has lost. And while I focus on healing my heart, I am also focusing on healing my body. I have to be mindful of the decline in energy or instant fatigue and how this seems to drive an increase in appetite — how easy it is for me to ignite a drop in my iron, ferritin, and Vitamin-D. I say softly to myself as I want to say softly to you, “I am building a better me without you.”

I am building a better me without you . . .

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