could you feel the fright of an age that was and could never be?

If there is anything I have learned from books, it could be that falling in love is a lot like vertigo. It could be that it takes all the running you can do to stay in the same place. It could be that losing that feeling of Being Loved and Becoming Real to someone feels a lot like dying.
What is vertigo? Fear of falling? Then why do we feel it even when the observation tower comes equipped with a sturdy handrail? No, vertigo is something other than the fear of falling. It is the voice of the emptiness below us which tempts and lures us, it is the desire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves...We might also call vertigo the intoxication of the weak. Aware of his weakness, a man decides to give in rather than stand up to it. He is drunk with weakness, wishes to grow even weaker, wishes to fall down in the middle of the main square in front of everybody, wishes to be down, lower than down..."Pick me up," is the message of a person who keeps falling. — The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera
I told you that it would be easier than this, but we know now how much I misrepresented things. That night I planned for us to walk to that park bench, where we would part as not even friends, as something a little bit less that could have been a little bit more. Terrified of becoming an "us" instead of an "I", I planned to strangle that future before it could strangle the future I had dreamt for myself. Instead we leaned against the handrail and you held me tightly (consequently, I avoided the park I had planned to use to leave you, up until the day it snowed, a white blanket that covered up the danger signs until it was too late and I was running away screaming "Fuck you" all over again).

Even after it had been established that there was a four-eyed monster with our eyes and our hands roaming the streets of Seattle, the fear didn't subside but instead took a different shape. With the death of "I" came the fear of a death of "us": I was coming face to face with the "emptiness...against which, terrified", I needed to defend myself. Laying in bed side-by-side, before our ballet of punishment, I buried my face in your bed and cried. In the front seat of your car I let my limbs fall to my side and sat lifeless until you breathed me back to life. Shaking behind the bleachers, I whispered "Let's break up", only to hear you say that you still wanted me around. I was falling apart.
Alice never could quite make out, in thinking it over afterwards, how it was that they began: all she remembers is, that they were running hand in hand, and the Queen went so fast that it was all she could do to keep up with her: and still the Queen kept crying "Faster! Faster!" but Alice felt that she could not go faster, though she had no breath left to say so..."Are we nearly there?" Alice managed to pant out at last. "Nearly there!" the Queen repeated. "Why, we passed it ten minutes ago! Faster!...Here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place." — Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There, Lewis Carroll

The memories aren't quite so vivid; immediately after the fact, the memories shorted out, as if the neuron pathways that added up to "us" had suddenly become disconnected. I sat on the bus to school, watching Bellevue pass by like a film reel, and in the absence of you the city became the object of my love. This stretch of sidewalk, forever immortalized since the day you jumped off of the 271 bus and ran after me, if only to walk me to the street corner, whereas just a block away was the stage for our public fight, where I screamed and cried as you sat contemplating my breakdown. The city shouldered the burden you abandoned to go to California, and I loved and hated it alternately. In the clear light of the early morning, I loved the city in which we once existed; at night I dreamed of tearing down our favorite buildings and single-handedly breaking the pavement we once traversed daily.

The formulas that added up to me and you were suddenly filled with irrational numbers, inequalities and unknown variables I didn't know how to comprehend. The memories disentangled themselves from any timeline whatsoever, became fractal and incomprehensible. Tonight we are sitting at Yummy Bites. "I want to move to Japan" is a phrase that is hanging over our tiny table. I sip my water calmly and catch the look in your eyes, the one that says, "I am trying to get to a place where you can't follow me." The dinner between us sits untouched. Tonight you are gripping my hand as we walk down the streets of Capitol Hill, tonight I am kicking you in the stomach as you struggle to focus on not crashing the car. Tonight, tonight, tonight you are ignoring my phone calls, tonight you are my best friend, forever I am chasing you, always just a little bit behind and to your right as you walk down the street (we don't even walk like a couple, but two angry people trying to pass each other).
And so the little Rabbit was carried out to the garden. Nearby he could see the raspberry canes, in whose shadow he had played with the Boy, and a great sadness came over him. Of what use was it to be loved and become Real if it all ended like this? And a tear, a real tear, trickled down his shabby velvet nose and fell to the ground. — The Velveteen Rabbit, Margery Williams
We are sitting in the car together for the last time. It was maybe the laptop, or the parking spaces again, or perhaps it was the fact that you were late and I wanted to walk away like I used to, until you were angry with me and told me to wait for you. You ask if there is still some time, and I nod and stare out the passenger window while you drive from Seattle to Bellevue to Redmond. I ask if we are going somewhere in particular, but you answer, "I just thought we'd go for a drive. Do you mind it?"

You park at the end of my neighborhood, near the house with the chain-link fence and a yard full of dog piss. We sit in the car, and soon enough we are kissing like it is goodbye. I used to worry until late into the night that this was the end and that I wouldn't remember where we had our last kiss, or what it felt like. I put my hand on your cheek, and I know that when I walk up that street and enter that house, that it will in fact be the death of "us". This is the only kiss that matters, small and defeated, rather than the tight-lipped, unhappy pecks that so frightened me, rather than the wide-eyed, inexperienced kisses that used to make you laugh.

"Everyday I walk these streets and feel like every door is closed on me. I start to wonder if I'm already homeless. I start to fear I'm the phantom, that he was real and I'm left behind, this ghost staining his city. So I scream, I cry, I laugh, I sing as I walk home, to prove to everyone that I'm the real one." We all know how the story ends. "Autumn passed and winter, and in the Spring, when the days grew warm and sunny"...The night that I was truly homeless, I sat on your couch with my suitcases by the door, and we laughed at one of our more harmless memories. My eye is swollen and bruised, and like a phoenix I have died and died again, but you look earnestly at me and I can tell that you can see "there was something familiar", that I had finally come back to look at the person that had first helped me to become Real.

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