i don’t think about you (and other lies i tell myself)

It wasn’t you that I saw, standing tall and rail-straight, just on the other side of the jewelry counter. But it didn’t matter; it may as well have been, with the way I felt the room lurch and spin. I dug my nails under the polished metal rim of the counter and ducked my head, not wanting to make eye contact with you. My fingertips left steamy smears on the cold, clean glass.

I pretended to care about tacky heart-shaped pendants, knowing I should look up, say hello and feign that I wasn’t all at once stumbling drunk with missing you. I thought about what it might do to me to hug you. I remembered how, if there was anything unsatisfying about touching you, it was that you never left your scent behind. You didn’t stay on my clothes or my sofa cushions – the only evidence you’d ever been at home with me, an emptied wine glass next to my own.

I swallowed your memory, pushing it down into my uneasy stomach and finally looked up. But like I said, it wasn’t you. Too old, too wide about the shoulders, too not you. So I rang for the sales clerk, finished my business and drove home slowly, feeling suddenly lonesome and a little hungover.

46 comments to i don’t think about you (and other lies i tell myself)

  • Moshizzle

    I can’t even begin to describe how this post made me feel. The title is perfect. I’m in huge denial myself.

  • Having been in this situation NUMEROUS times, I completely relate. Just the other night, I swore a saw a guy I used to date and my heart squeezed so tight. But when finally saw him close-up, it wasn’t even close. Ah,denial.

  • jjenni7

    If I could express an emotion the way that you do I’d be rich.

  • I felt as though I was there. I held me breath as I read this post, just as I’m sure you did too. I think everyone has gone through this, and the way you captured that awkward, awful moment was completely priceless.

  • I’m not sure that lurching, shocked feeling ever goes away with certain guys. But the recovery time gets MUCH quicker. Gorgeous post.

  • This read like a poem.

    And I’m not just saying that because I had my poetry midterm exam yesterday! nicely done.

  • Wanna come over and watch movies that’ll make us cry and eat ice cream or whatever food you use for self-medication? Because I’m in tears here — I so get this.

  • Marcy

    struck a chord with me, too. have so been there…

  • Wow is all I can say fish,

    I shouldn’t be surprised, you have a way of capturing a moment we all feel and describing it to a T!

    I read and re-read your post and all I can say is wow.

    I have been there too many times and I know I have many more to go.

    It’s going to be a Mint&Chip night

  • Rachael

    Oh god, there’s a guy i dated almost two years ago now that still has this effect on me. he’s a total idiot, so the second i think about it, its all fine, but he’s so beautiful that when i see him it still takes my breath away and i’m suddenly sent back to how it felt when i was with him. yuck!

  • bh

    Spot on – as usual, Fish.

  • Anonymous

    I’m still there… I have to work around him. Thanks for the window to your soul. I feel a little less alone.

  • You’ve done it: hit writer’s nirvana. How so? Because we all felt what you wrote — quite viscerally, for me. My stomach is still tight with tension. Brava!

  • TeeliGirl

    Whoa! That was my college reunion last summmer sans store and sadly in my case, he and I were 7 years ago. Time heals SOME wounds.

  • Laura

    Have been there too…it still shocks me how those memories can jolt you and…infect your current reality. Stay strong!

  • Rach

    aw, i miss you too, H!

    it is your scrabulous turn.

  • Chevy

    Beautifully written and yet so sad! Chin up, girl!

  • M

    I just experienced some severe empathy pangs.

    Nearly two years after our breakup, on the rare occasion I find myself at his subway stop, I hide behind my hair, while covertly keeping an eye out for him…meanwhile, I rebuffed his attempts at reconciliation back in January and am in the midst of falling hard for someone else. Go figure.

    This is a beautiful entry.

  • red


  • Libby

    I just had an unexpected break up and almost cried when I read this! Everything you said rang true! I was online on a dating site and caught a glimpse of this guy that was a dead ringer for him and my breath held in my chest and my heart dropped. All this from just a picture! So glad it wasn’t him!!!

  • chantal

    Fish, I think you’ve managed to capture how we’ve all felt at one time or another in a similar situation.

    Beautifully painful…thank you.

  • your post made me realize just how lucky I am that the man who makes my heart feel that much emotion is the man who I wake up next to every morning. and while having three bouncing baby boys may steal some of the romance, there are still those moments when i realize it IS him and my heart does that little dip all over again. Beautifully written.

  • Teresa Tibbs

    wow, reading this, I could actually feel it… and it was brutal…

  • DIane

    Perfectly captured how I feel. Do guys feel like this, or is it just women?

  • Sara

    The beautiful way you convey the situation makes it sound like a dramatic, heart-wrenching novel I’d like to read but would rather not experience (again). Sometimes I wish the beginnings could be as beautiful and passionate as the ends, without all the tissues and bon bons.

  • This was beautiful. I relate completely.

  • Who hasn’t felt that breath-stealing shock at a sighting like that? Then you realize that it’s not really him, and try to forget the feeling of emptiness.

    You captured that moment so perfectly, Fish. Your writing is a gift.

  • LynnH

    We broke up for a year and a half. I missed him terribly. He is a good man, a romantic man, a man who treats me with such tenderness. He is a lousy father. How can a good person be an absent father?!? Had to wrap my head around that one and let it go. The clincher–I’m flawed too. And he JUST GETS ME. Have known him for 7 years…Now happily married for one month. Your writings keep me anticipating. Well done.

  • rick from canada

    Many years ago I had one of those “instaneous sparks” things at of all places a bus stop…follwoed her onto the bus (not really following cause the bus was going where i wanted to go) … turned out the sparks were mutual … and i ended up getting off the bus and going home with her … we hardly said a word but it was very nice – totally unplanned and totally uninhibited…a most amazing one-off…. about a year ago i saw her in a crowd at a local market…caught her eyes …we stared for awhile …she smiled i smiled back and knew that despite never staying in touch or getting to know one another that we did in fact share a very nice (and uncomplicated) memory …

  • Alyssa

    Beautifully put, and made my heart ache for you. I’ve been there too, many times. Am now happily married with 2 kids, and those times when my heart was broken makes me appreciate my husband all the more.

    He’s out there, and you will meet him when the time is right (if you haven’t already!).

  • Cin

    OMG I so get this. I’ve felt like that so many times in my life. Your writing always moves me. Usually to laughter, but sometimes to tears. I wish I had your tallent.

  • Deborah

    “I thought about what it might do to me to hug you.” I’m living that line right now with a guy who suddenly dropped out of my life a few months ago and then just as suddenly dropped back in last week. I agree with Ms. Scarlet–your writing really is a gift.

  • arisha

    all i can say is, never date someone who has done some modeling. three years later, ads featuring a guy i used to date have suddenly popped up all over boston. i see his face every single day on my commute to work..! awful.

  • This got me, I can relate very much….

  • Selin

    Wow..Great post.No words.

  • Strange how we avoid the very same people we long for!

  • Jen

    I know the feeling… oh, I so know the feeling!

  • Mary

    Brilliant! In relaying your experience, you perfectly capture how we’ve all felt. Amazing how a brief glance or faint scent of him can shake us to the core whether it’s actually him or not. Thanks for explaining so well our feelings when we ourselves could never adequately describe them.

  • Oy. And ouch. The truth stings. Beautifully.

  • Missy

    Wow… felt every second of it like I was there. Once again you’ve proven words can relay the most complex feelings…. Stay strong, we’ve all been there and lived to tell about it!

  • BEAUTIFUL post! Nostalgia is an intoxicating little devil, isn’t it?

  • DUDE! this just happened to me at the library it’s amazing how memories come flooding back!

  • This is a beautiful post.