The Acceptance Letter
My eyes focused on a black and white picture of fire escapes in the city during a blizzard that I had bid on at a charity auction. I wanted it so badly that night we saw it a studio in Chelsea, but he outbid me. We got in a fight over the ethics of outbidding your significant other on something they wanted, and he quickly handed the photo over saying that he only bid on it so he could give it to me. I never knew if that was the truth, but the ownership of the photo became a bit muddled. As I stared at it in it's final resting place on my mantel, I realized that in all of our reckless fights when I purged my NYC apartment of things he had given to me, I had never once thought twice about giving up the photo of the fire escapes. I mean, I had scoured the place of any tiny thing, any remembrance of us, and had somehow always missed that photo. Maybe because I always had thought it was mine because I saw it first, bid on it first, even though it was really his.
And in that moment, I realized that I would never possibly be able to separate his things from mine. We had built a life together and the lines of ownership had become quite muddy.
I think that’s the issue with relationships and breakups. We want to completely sever ourselves from the other person, when that other person is now in these tiny little pieces of us that we could never possibly find within us. Whether we adopted a part of their laugh, or the way they grin at us with a crooked smile as though it is enough when something bad has happened, or if we have taken on that way they bite their bottom lip when they think they are onto something. We can’t just sever ourselves from everything that was theirs, or we sever ourselves from ourselves. We have to accept the parts of us that now have parts of them, as lovingly as we accept the rest of ourselves, and understand that some of those parts are incredibly important to who we became through that relationship. Even if the relationship died, the person it morphed us into did not.
We are still alive, and we are going to need ourselves to love every single part of us, even the parts that include them, because those are the parts that are going to need the most of our love. We're going to need those fire escapes in the future, even when we don't know their ownership.