Love That Does Not Leave

GHOSTS | On living in a house haunted by old love that refuses to leave.

How many times can I release the same man?

How many times can I truly let him go, only to find him there, again, hours or days or months later, sitting in my library peacefully reading my books
As if that was the most natural thing in the world
As if he had never left

Yes, he’s there again, and I take his hand and show him out, kiss him on the cheek and close the door behind him
He does not belong here, in my house
Not if he can’t choose me
Right now, he belongs out in the rain

I walk into the bathroom and there he is, drying himself with my towels
Full of self-pity
Complaining about the rain
About the cold
About life
And I listen patiently, then lead him back to the door
You can’t use me like this”, I say
Or, at least I say it in my mind – the words are hard to get out
Because I’m a people pleaser
A coward
And because I love him, even when he’s dwelling in unattractive self-pity
He turns around in the doorway
“Are you seeing someone?”
“Are you in love?”
“Just pick someone, anyone!”
His words hurt me
Would that change anything, would he stop coming if I just picked someone, anyone? If we were equally miserable, equally stuck in lives we tried to hurry on, tried to get over with?

He asks me to come with him, to go for a walk
And I finally find the strength to tell him
“I can’t. You still shake my world every time you show up. There are feelings between us that we cannot allow and they turn our world into a lie. It’s not the not having – I can live without you – it’s the silent pretending that breaks my heart. You hurt me by coming here!”

My words silence him
As if he sees MY pain for the first time, there, right next to his own
“I’m sorry”, he finally says
And I close the door without goodbye

My house is empty again, and I’m enjoying the stillness
The absence of an untouchable man walking in and out of my rooms as if he owned them
There’s no one in the kitchen, feeding my heart
No one in the library, feeding my thoughts
No one in the bedroom, feeding my desires
No one in the living room, feeding my light
Even my bathroom is empty
No grumpy man in there pouring a bath to cleanse his soul from fears and pain

I know it’s just a question of time
My locks are poor and I know my house is too big for one
Peacefulness will eventually turn into boredom
Loneliness will start filling my rooms and I will want to share them again
But not with a ghost!
Please, this time not with a ghost…


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