To lose her is to actively admit that she is gone. To lose her is to fully understand that her cropped hair and blue jeans don’t dance around the kitchen table anymore. To lose her is to create a space that is still filled by her slamming door, her key in the lock, her shampoo bottle on the side of the wet bathtub – signs that she is there but not, a ghost made corporeal. To lose her is to push her beyond her comfort zone, it is to possess a vocabulary of words that she doesn’t wish to use when referring to the two of you. It is to say that you are there and she is not. It is to say that ‘busy’ is an excuse for ‘do not want’ and that ‘tired’ also means ‘bored.’ Losing her means connecting the dots between your collarbone and hers and seeing the height difference that used to be a comfort and is now an inconvenient bumpy road full of potholes in your ribcage where your heart has shrunken because she has taken away her part of it. Losing her means feeling your stomach roiling full of whiskey sours and late night sex with strangers, knowing she is held in the arms of one who loves her less than you do but who gives her what she wants, which is more valuable, in the end, than the abstract love that you express in emoticons and hugs. Losing her is accepting a fishing hook in your diaphragm that is more firmly lodged there than in any catch she makes on City Island. It is remembering the loping amble and seaside strut of her hips.
Having lost her is a prospect yet unfathomed, a deep green sea unexplored. You take scuba diving lessons in preparation, consuming yourself in the hearty weekends of others and abandoning them to their pain, learning to punish your recruits as much as love allows and more. Stars align in the night as you ride out weepy-weary from your tent and gallop across a desert on four wheel drive. Having lost her you will be a series of little wrecks left on the road from where you will crash over and over again, each pile of rocks you choose bigger than the last, until there is no part of you that isn’t broken and bruised. You will never return to the ocean where she dwells with the sea creatures she has adopted, having lost her. You will become a cacti-eating desert dune of crumbled skin and sinew as she floats along the surface carried by the tides. You will grow your weeds in deep and keep the memory alive, the fairytale all deserts whisper after dark – that once upon a time, many aeons ago, the whole world was filled with the ocean, from end to end, and that one day in the future the seas will rise again and the desert will be reunited with the water and will drink deep, and you will drink deepest, deeper than ever before, even if it is only from the salty mix of your own once-shed tears.