I get attached to the smallest things, and those things almost always make an impact on big decisions. I realized that, as I watched my cat try her hardest to stay close to me as I found myself detached from the outside world lately. She would sleep in my bed in my favorite spot or sit at my feet as I was positioned at my desk, working on this book I’m trying to finish. When she fell asleep with her face nestled in a wayward boot I flung on the ground after a long day, I melted. My first thought was: how can I ever leave her?
I have this same thought when I’m dating someone new or when the guy I’ve loved the longest makes a hopeful appearance. Each time they show that they need me just a little, I’m ready to forfeit my wanderlust fantasies. If I had it my way, I’d be in Paris right now, or living in a country close enough that I could take a random (and cheap) trip to Paris anytime I wanted. But there are these things and people in my life that keep me here, in Brooklyn. The scary part is that I already know what happens when I hold on to anything too tight.
The universe has a way of taking things away from me by force.
When I was living in an apartment that I loved in Connecticut, (which was too close to the part of the town that was not the safest), it got burglarized twice in the same week. I refused to move. Even when I got a job back in New York a few weeks later, I intended to commute because I loved that apartment. My first week at my new job I planned to stay in New York for the week and then head back to my place for the weekend. When Friday came, I got a phone call that my apartment pretty much burned to the ground.
Living in that apartment while I was away, was the man I planned to marry. We were seven years into something that felt more comfortable than magical. We were in sync. When I moved, he moved. When he thought, I spoke. I gave him everything. But we didn’t belong together. That fire brought him back to New York. That fire made our wedding plans urgent because we couldn’t live in sin in the same city where our parents lived. Seven years of comfort and four months of marriage was gone in one night of discovered infidelity. There weren’t actual flames this time but I got burned.
When I made the career choice to pursue a paycheck in a creative way, which meant giving up an apartment that my salary afforded me, I let that go without a fight. With my history, I know I could have lost it in a more dramatic fashion. Moving into a smaller and less attractive space I’m now attached to my things. I stare at my bookshelf and the stacks of books in corners of my place and think about how I would be able to save them if I moved away.
Then there’s “him” (Not the same man who was recognized by God and my family). I try not to get too attached to him. I couldn’t take losing him though he doesn’t belong to me. There are the men I think can replace him. I get attached to the possibilities and mentally put those applications to jobs on the other side of the world on hold.
I have a friend who is in love. She is in love with a guy who loves her. But for their own reasons they can’t be together right now. She has big plans to move thousands of miles away. I asked her “but aren’t you afraid that leaving will affect the possibility of a relationship?” she wasn’t worried at all. She was so sure that this love would always be there and distance meant nothing. I wondered for a moment about my attachments.
I’m attached to an animal that can’t quite communicate with me. I’m attached to a man that can’t quite communicate with me. I’m attached to physical things that can easily be damaged. I have a genuine fear of losing each of these things. If my cat gets too still and quiet I check that she’s breathing. If “he” gets too quiet I check-in to make sure we’re still okay (whatever that means). I reread books on my shelf several times when I feel the lessons from each of them might be slipping from my memory.
But what are these attachments really? I use my cat as the punchline in every joke when trying to laugh about the fact that I’m cuddle-less during cuddle season. My friend jokes that I won’t ever really be single because of “him”. Every time someone questions my intelligence because of the stupid things I do for love, I point out how well-read I am.
The thing is, death is inevitable, “he” will fall in love with someone else eventually, and a match or flood could take away the words I have wrapped myself in over the years. When those things go away, I might still be here, and that’s so terrifying.
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