My office at school is next to a flower shop. Piled up outside their back door today were mounds of boxes, abandoned ribbon, scattered petals, withered leaves and twisted stems, and one, solitary, trampled rose. The slowly decomposing detritus of one more Valentine's Day gone by.
While catching up on my e-mail last night, I noticed the ex was online. I had long since removed him from my contact list to reduce the temptation for self-destruction, but all it takes is sending one e-mail to someone whose name starts with J or D and there he is in the drop-down list, and this time with a little green icon next to his name. I knew I shouldn't say anything, I didn't want to, but I did. It had been three months since the last time, and I knew his trip would be coming to an end soon. I wondered if he was back, wanted to know if he was 5 miles away or 5,000, just for my peace of mind. And so I asked. He said he was back, had just returned that very day, in fact. And already I knew I had made a huge mistake. I felt nauseous, like I always do when I talk to him. Like nothing will ever be right again. We talked for a minute, maybe. I told him I'm still in school but finishing in May. He said his trip was great, but hard to put into words. So he didn't. He said he was tired, had to go to sleep. I said ciao. But then, he stayed online. His little green icon still glowing half an hour later, when I had to turn my computer off so I would stop checking.
I didn't think about the fact that it was Valentine's Day until it was too late. At first I thought, Oh, how ironic that the first time you talk to him in three months is on Valentine's Day. What a sickly sweet coincidence. And then I thought, You idiot. I could have at least let him think the possibility existed that I was on a date with someone. But instead I handed him definitive proof that ten months later I am, in fact, still very much alone.
Until that point it was just Thursday, but then all of a sudden it was Valentine's Day, and I felt like I had been punched in the gut. Sometimes, even now, ten months later, it still feels like Day 1, like we've just broken up all over again. All along I've been telling myself that I just need time, I just need more time. But I'm tired of the waiting game, and I'm beginning to doubt the wisdom of the sages, who preach that Time, in all its elusive, slippery wonder, is the great panacea. But perhaps it is, after all, and perhaps I need to let it run its course. Maybe in ten more months I'll be cured, or maybe another ten months after that. I just need to know that there is an end in sight. I need to know that there will eventually be a time when he will no longer be able to make me cry. When I won't miss him so badly it hurts.
For now I'm focusing on the fact that, at the very least, there are 364 whole days between me and another Valentine's Day. And, if I'm smart, it will be at least that long before I'm tempted to chat with him again.