Sweat, heat and yoga usually cheered me up. Not today. I walked self-consciously down historic San Luis Obispo all alone. To anyone passing, there was nothing out of place with my yoga mat strapped to my back and hair pulled back into a French braid. But I felt exposed for the half empty person I had become. How could no one see it? I felt the hollowness inside of me grow each day I tried to cope with my solitude. But no one saw. It was my secret; I was a half-person walking around trying to start over.
I turned from Higuera to Nipomo, and before I could turn around, I had made eye contact with the last person I wanted to see. There he was, the man who had consumed my world for the past two years.
My brain tried to prepare my heart with maxims and scenarios I’d seen in romantic books and movies. Seeing him for the first time in weeks, should be painful. But contrary to my pre-conceived notions about heartbreak, my heart leapt inside me.
I always thought it incredibly corny to use expressions like “my heart jumped for joy” but now, no other combination of words could accurately describe what it felt like. It did leap, spreading an eerie happiness through me that I did not want to be there.
“Stop it, you’re supposed to be broken,” my mind tried to tell my heart. But the more I looked into the face that I had memorized long ago, the more inflated and warm I became inside. It was illogical, but I found myself doing it. I actually smiled. It felt genuine and I was mortified.
We spoke awkwardly only because my mind was in charge of my word choice. It told me to walk away from the man who shattered my sense of worth. He offered me a ride home, but my words refused him. I watched him drive away, looking at me through his rear view mirror. For some odd reason I still glowed inside.
But it didn’t last long. The fullness I had felt when I stood awkwardly in front of him morphed into the type of emotional pain that actually translates into palpitations.
Three blocks later and there I was, victim of my bi-polar heart, crying into my Peet’s coffee mug careless of the stares of concerned strangers. I scratched out a few words on a napkin, trying to rationalize my feelings. I tucked the napkin into my pocket and left.
What I wrote was simple.
“I believe the romantics had it right all along, hearts do leap. It physiologically changes pace when these emotions come. It shows signs of bi-polarity in the face of a break-up. Weirdest of all, it seems to act contrary to what I want. I think it is in rebellion and I don’t know how to win this battle. We may just have to co-exist in our emptiness.”
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.