Ever feel like when you’re waiting to hear from someone, the air is just sucked out of the room and it feels like you can’t breathe? Like if you’re waiting for even just one more minute, you may suffocate, or choke on your own anticipation and just can’t do anything about it, or really even want to?

That. I wrote about it once. A long time ago. As a kid in high school wishing for something I was pretty sure I’d never ever find but would spend my whole life seeking out anyway. I found it a few years later in a best friend that changed – and saved – my life in a way that I can’t even imagine or even completely comprehend in what feels like centuries after all that’s happened. That was different – we were siblings. Family. Kindred. I loved him but was never in love with him, though somehow I’ve managed to compare everyone I’ve ever dated to him, quite unfairly I might add.

Simple words that held a lot of soul, and my hopes for the future. For someone I’d find someday. I’m older now. Wiser, too, or so I’d have you believe. The air doesn’t do that anymore, though if we’re being honest, it never did before either. I just did it to myself, suffocating on expectations and choking on the hope that the potential I fell in love with would be the same as the person in front of me.

It never was.

Perhaps it’s me. Perhaps it’s this life. The three of us went our separate ways. Jimmy died, Mike was broken, and I went to pieces and put myself back together so many times that I don’t even look like the girl I was back then anymore. That’s a good thing, I think, in many ways. But I’ve long since reconciled my heart and my mind that what the three of us had as kids was something magical, something incredible, and not something everyone gets to have. The knowledge that I’ve had that before in past lives, and again in this one was enough to carry me through eventually. Finally. After many years of grieving the losses, the broken hearts, and giving away the keys on a cord – key to my heart, key to my mind (that’s the twisted one of course), and a penny for my thoughts – for the last time in my twenties as I told him I loved him and he walked away because he couldn’t deal. I was too much a reminder of the ghosts of our past, still alive in the flesh. And so he buried me with Jimmy and those memories and I choked on the dirt as that part of my past got covered over and the world buried me alive.

There’s no air down there. You get used to living without it. You adapt. You change. You climb your way out to stand back up and move mountains. Build walls. Wrap your heart in barbed wire and tattoo it on your back with a reminder of truth and justice to always keep you honest. You keep going one foot in front of the other. One broken bone after the other – but those are okay. You can work through those. No more broken hearts because you don’t show that to people or give that away. Tell enough stories and share enough of your life and people don’t ever realize that they know you without ever really KNOWING you. And I liked it that way. It was easier. Safe. And I could build myself a home knowing that I had no one who could hurt me because I simply let no one in. Not really.

Then I walked into a room and couldn’t breathe again, only I wasn’t choking this time. Something took my breath away. My walls never came down, but somehow they didn’t matter because you already knew me. Really knew me. And could see me as me. The good, the bad, and the ugly. The scars. The broken bones, and broken trust. The lost girl who ran off to her forest to build a life on top of the last mountain she’d ever have to move.


untitled cj millar