“Since the disintegration of her parent’s marriage she’d only love two things. The first was her long dark hair. The second was how easily she could cut it off and not feel a thing.” -500 Days of Summer
March 13, 1992. I remember the day vividly. My father crouched at the foot of the stairs, tears streaming down his cheeks. Me, sitting there, silent. Wanting to cry, but tears would not leave my eyes. I was eight years old and my parents were getting divorced. I was acutely aware that this moment would be forever etched in my mind.
History repeats itself.
He and I hadn’t spoken in a couple of weeks, which was awkward- we worked for the same company on different teams, avoided each other except for one brief passing in the hallway. Hey Tiny, he said. I loved that he called me Tiny-next to him (6’4″) I (5’1″) was very tiny. Usually Tiny is an ironic nickname-one for a 300 pound man, but in this case it was honest. He was honest. A few days later, a text message: Meet me at the ICA tonight?
We wandered around the museum, barely speaking and I knew that this was goodbye. The silence broke: The museum will close in five minutes, a voice threatened over the loud speaker. No, please, just give me more time I wanted to yell, but time would not change things. We poured out of the museum with hundreds of other patrons and wrestled with our coats, gloves, scarves, hats, messenger bags, and our feelings. February in Boston is very complicated.
He’s standing in front of me and I try to hold his hand inside his sleeve-our signature move. He does not make room for my hand. I look up at him, my neck craning to meet his gaze. I don’t want to end up hurting you, he said, which is what someone says as they’re hurting you.
I immediately feel it-the lump in my throat, so I look away and then it’s gone. I understand. I have never been one to beg. Well, I guess I’ll see you around I say casually, as if I were talking to my dry cleaner. He starts to back up and I lift my head to look at him one last time. I’m going to leave now- before I cry. He had never seen me cry before-most people haven’t. It’s just not something I’m very comfortable doing in front of people. He lowers himself toward me, hopeful to see my tears. Just like the day I sat on the stairs in front of my father, the tears would not leave my eyes.
Tiny, you are the strongest person I know. If you ever feel anything, you sure do a good job of hiding it.
Later that week, I cut my long dark hair. I felt nothing. ∞