It’s just another warm Tuesday afternoon in my small town of Lumberton.
I am sitting cross-legged on an old couch in a fairly clean laundromat on the north side of town. The 5 o’clock news and the steady hum of the dryer serves as background noise.
The place is empty.
The Mexican lady and her kids who were running around earlier have left. It is almost time for dinner and soon, when autumn comes, it will get darker sooner too.
It’s weird how I find solace in odd places like these. The laundromat. A coffee shop. An airport terminal. I found myself thinking, as I separated the whites from the blacks and colors, about my day. What I’d eaten. Pizza. Yuck. Could’ve done better there.
Jeans. Tank tops. New underwear. My boyfriend’s t-shirts.
Interesting how my life has come to this.
Just about an hour ago I was taking pictures of an intersection in town that may or may not be getting new stop signs installed. Then I find myself washing the shirts he left behind after his weekend excursion with me, which, since then, I have barely heard from him at all.
I seem to transition seamlessly from work to dealing with my precarious emotions. I find myself craving a conversation. I used to wake up to texts from him that were sent at 5 a.m. Now, I’m lucky if I even got one before 5 p.m.
I hate to sound like I’m complaining. The past few months have been blissful. From bouquets of roses to candle light dinners, whispers of sweet phrases to honest confessions, I felt like the luckiest girl in the world. I felt sad for girls who are alone, amazing women who deserved love more than anything else, but had no one. I finally had him, and we were in love.
When he said he loved me, we were half-drunk of a red wine and a bottle of whiskey. The room was dim and a really cheesy R&B love song played in the background. Yet, I said it back without being sure why, only knowing that it felt like it was the right thing to do and once I had said it, I wanted to say it over and over again to him.
I don’t know what love is but I know I’ve been in love.
I know I was in love with B when I stayed with him for a year and then longed for him even more for another year after that. I know I loved A when I convinced myself that I was still special despite all the other girls he had. They were love, in a mutilated way. It was the only kind of love I knew and inevitably, it hurt.
As I try as hard as possible not to fall into the labyrinth of love this time, I find myself holding back so much of myself to this person who deserves so much more than just part of me. But despite knowing that, I don’t know if I can chip away the walls that I’ve spent so long building.
My clothes are sitting in the dryer and I’m holding back tears in an empty laundromat as dusk approaches.
I cry when I think about the day he no longer wakes up and looks forward to talking to me. Or when our conversations turn into routine. When he already knows every inch and nook and cranny of my imperfect body and is tired with me.
I mostly cry when I think about the day when he realizes how mediocre I am, will always be.