Possessions

I will take the way you folded the towels and looped the toilet paper under and the way you made eggs, not because I believe in the rightness or wrongness of your technique but because of the muscle memory of these acts seems silly to change now.

I will take the good sex to remember I was once desirable to you. I will leave you the bad sex, the times I didn't come or said her name instead of yours, framed on the night table so that when you pick up the phone late at night, drunk or horny, maybe you'll think better of calling me.

I will take your nasty e-mails, the accusing voicemails, the letters in which you told me you weren't in love with me anymore, in case the urge to romanticize you during the aforementioned times rears its ugly head.

I will take your advice, when you told me to look people in the eye, to shake hands firmly, to never give anyone the satisfaction of knowing that they hurt you.

I will leave being beta, mousy, insecure, my default mode of placing myself second. You will not want these, either, although for a time, stripped of your power, you will think I have put them in the side zipper of your suitcase or in the air-conditioning vent or some other place in which they will be hard to find, and you will carry them with you like the smell of garlic on your fingers. I will take my voice, discovered almost too late, from where it was shoved in the utensil drawer next to the never-used batter scraper from a Pampered Chef party.

I will leave your family. I will block you after you text to invite me to your grandmother's funeral, your grandmother who I loved as my own. Although it will be hard, I will not wonder, five years later, if your sister is still in remission. When I see your asshole brother at Starbucks, it will be an earthquake that only the two of us feel, shaking our cups and hands, vibrating our vocal cords like rigging on a sailboat, that I will fight, not alter my course and cross the café to lay empty pleasantries by his scone or to have the last word about something.

I will take our friends—who were my friends first—and I will feel secretly angry and betrayed that although I have told them how you treated me, what a narcissistic bitch you were, they still like your Facebook posts, answer "maybe" to the events in which you invite them, sometimes actually see you.

Because of them and because of you, I will take suspicion and fear of commitment. Fool me twice, shame on me.

You will take the television, the stereo, the bedroom furniture from IKEA, the expensive hiking gear.

You will take all the times you were right, because they were always the most important thing to you.

You will take our dog, even though I am home more often, am better prepared to care for her. For some reason, I do not fight you on this; maybe I want you to have someone who will always love you because, after ten years of living with you, I'm not sure anyone else will.

You want me to take the blame for the relationship ending because, technically, in the vacuum of your logic, I was the one who left.

And you will insist I take your regrets, that you shouldn't have been so critical, so quick to anger, so jealous and controlling. That you wish you had appreciated me more, that you hadn't cheated. You will press them on me when I leave, like a missionary tract or a Jehovah's Witness pamphlet. You will hope I examine them later, in some moment of reflection, and convert back to your way of thinking.

Neither of us will take the photos, those memories, the ones before we got the iPhones, the thousands of our relationship over the years, visiting the coasts, the Sears Building in Chicago, sipping margaritas at some Puerto or Villa, toasting at weddings, family birthdays, holidays. The photos that seemed so certain, like mercury on a cut or a radical mastectomy or morning in America, of our happiness but now feel so dated, not just our clothes and hairstyles and smooth, unlined faces, but our belief that love conquered all even in the face of diametrically opposed outlooks. The ones that will sit on the curb, with audiocassettes of U2 and VHS tapes of "Friends," the things that other people don't want, either. The things we thought, at some point, we absolutely needed.

 

Jen Michalski's second novel, "The Summer She Was Under Water," was just released by Queens Ferry Press. She is the editor of the journal "JMWW" and host of Starts Here!

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