A week passes faster than I would have liked. The combination of sleeping, eating, and staying away from drugs miraculously erases my bruises and blotches. I’m no longer yellow; even the whites of my eyes are gleaming.
For the last few nights, I’ve stretched out in the grass–until my mom yells at me to put on some insect repellant– imagining what I’m going to say to each individual in my Chicago life.
Some are easy, like Nate. “I’m so sorry for everything that has happened. You have no idea how much you mean to me. And you’ve really proven yourself to be an amazing friend. I love you.” I
It’s important to rehearse not only the actual words, but also the gestures and tone.
Donning my non-crazy, quirky girl next door mask for all of my coworkers. “Oh, yes…I was really sick. What a crazy illness! Anyway, I’m feeling a lot better.”
Facial expressions are key. A subtly down turned mouth or a slight forehead scrunch could negate everything I’m saying.
Breezily grinning at my neighbors while I check the mail, particularly the ones who saw me carried down from the third floor on a stretcher.
I’m still not sure how I’m going to face all of my other “casual” friends. I’m just imagining how the story has been blown out of proportion. Most likely Ryan and I have evolved into Wicker Park’s answer to Sid and Nancy.
And then there is Ryan. I know that I owe him an explanation and an apology. So many times, I picked up the phone and began to dial his number. But I always hung before I reached the last two numbers. I could say thousands of things to him, but most of them will be wrong. Too black and white. Highly inaccurate. Understatements and overstatements. And crying. I know I will break down if I hear myself explaining the last few months.
On Saturday morning, my mom drops me off at the train station. I’m laden down with books, produce stand purchases, and thrift store loot. I’ve spent the last seven days mentally preparing myself for my return to Chicago, but I’m still not ready to confront everything…even the simplest tasks, like folding my laundry or riding my bike to work, seem overwhelming.
I’ve decided to write a letter to Ryan. I’ve filled my back with writing paper and an envelope already addressed to 3303 West Crystal. My mom provided the stamp.
I’m not going to let myself eat or sleep until I finish this letter. I want to drop this in the mailbox at the train station in Chicago. And then I’m done. I can sleep soundly in my own bed, knowing that I finally did the right thing.
The first letter starts off promising, but then it turns into a hastily assembled version of The Bell Jar. “And then suddenly I realized that I didn’t want to wash my hair or eat dinner or even try to make you happy, because it was all pointless. I would just have to do it all again.”
I rip this up and stuff the pieces into the seat pocket.
This attempt goes awry immediately, as I begin to realize how angry I am at him. “Sorry, but you’re not smart enough to deserve the title of ‘That Dude that Drove Amanda to Suicide.’” And “I hope you didn’t run up your phone bill too much, calling everyone we know to spread idle, untrue gossip about me. You know they charge for local calls now, don’t you?”
More shredded paper.
The third try starts off seeming really sensitive and balanced, but then I find myself mentioning how sad I am about the prospect of never having sex with him again. This is probably inappropriate under current conditions.
Now the empty seat next me is occupied by a rapidly growing pile of rejected sentiments.
“You’re not allowed to hate me just because I’ve shown my weakness.”
No. Too adversarial.
“I’ve never pretended to be anything other than my actual self.”
“Everyone makes mistakes.”
True, but cliché, right?
“Somewhere this summer I lost my grip on who/where/what I am.
I promise that this had nothing to do with you, and everything to do with unresolved issues hiding deep inside me.
I working on forgiving myself, and I hope that you can forgive me, too.
At this point, I don’t think that I can see you. But someday I will be able to look you in the eye and say once again, ‘I’m sorry.’”
Sign it. Fold it into thirds. Carefully slide it into the envelope. Lick and seal.
Now I can take a nap.