A Ghost in Every Room: An Essay on Love and Pain

e07ca-4633403-a-sad-man-inside-his-house-crying-into-his-armHere I sit. A lonely shell of a man. A mere shadow of my former self in the days since you walked out the front door of our house and out of my life forever.

Why you left, God only knows. But since I don’t believe in God, or any other all-powerful deity for that matter, I feel as though the secret of your leaving is cruelly inaccessible to me. Searching for answers is an exercise in romantic futility, and now I’m left with only the pain of the unknown residing deep inside my scarred heart. A pain that may never go away.

The difficult truth is that, while you packed your things and left without a word, your presence somehow remains in every inch of this place you once called home. No matter how hard I try, I cannot escape the bittersweet memories that have ruthlessly tattooed themselves on both the walls of this once-warm abode and those that have now closed off my heart.

As I open my eyes each morning, I cast my half-conscious gaze over to the pillow on which your beautiful face used to rest. In that moment, I am transported back to that perfect night when you woke me with a kiss and whispered that you loved me “more than the sky.” My mind is equally bombarded by the memory of the lazy morning last October when we hit the snooze button and made love with an intensity of a million raging forest fires. Perhaps most clearly, though, I think about the morning after our house-warming party when you pissed all over our new 1,000-thread-count sheets because I kept goading you into drinking glass after glass of that shitty boxed wine Vince’s illiterate girlfriend bought at ALDI. That memory will remain with me always, just as the faded yellow stains will remain embedded in the quality cotton fibers of those sheets.

The bathroom is filled with an entirely different kind of pain. A pain for every sense the good Lord has bestowed upon man. As I brush my teeth with your toothpaste, I taste the very same flavor that would accompany your kisses each morning before you left for work. I smell the nearly empty bottle of shampoo you so carelessly abandoned and am captivated by the scent that permeated your every hair. And I come to tears at the very sight of the toilet where you sat for two straight hours after I convinced you to order the lamb curry at the Indian Palace on Calvert St., even though I had read a review in the Tribune that specifically said to steer clear of the lamb curry at the Indian Palace on Calvert St. I would sacrifice each of my other senses just to have the sounds and smells of those two hours back.

Walking into the kitchen finds me crying tears of both unrivaled joy and excruciating pain. On the one hand, I laugh uncontrollably whenever I think back to those moments when you’d quizzically look in the refrigerator for something to eat, only to furrow your brow, melodramatically close the door, and suggest we order take-out. On the other, I ache with the pain of a thousand stabbing daggers at the memory of you losing two-and-a-half fingers in the garbage disposal after I lied about my hands being too fat to reach down the drain to retrieve a spoon I had dropped. The doctor may have said you’d never play the piano professionally again, but I think we would both agree that your subsequent work at the Culver’s drive-thru was an art in its own right.

In a million years, I could not adequately describe to you the agony that accompanies each visit to our guest bedroom. After all, this was the room in which you put so much of your time and energy when we first moved in together. Whether it was meticulously painting the walls and trim the perfect complimentary colors, sanding and finishing the original hardwood floors to a showroom shine, or buying all new bedding for the guest bed after you caught me having that really messy threesome with your sister and her boyfriend during their Christmas visit, you never gave up on that room. If only you hadn’t given up so easily on the love that once bound us together.

Last but not least, the living room remains the space that most vividly conjures up memories of the seemingly unquenchable thirst for love that we shared. I’ll never completely understand why, but the moment we curled up on that couch and turned on the television, our biggest problems seemed to disappear without a trace. The fight we had after I called your boss a “mustached anus” at the company picnic? Over as soon as the Law and Order theme song started. The tantrum you threw when I threatened to tell your mom about your addiction to diet pills in college if you ever bought generic paper towels again? Nothing a little Parks and Recreation couldn’t cure. Perhaps I was naive to believe that one comfortable couch and a 46″ Samsung television had all the answers. In the end, I guess your love for me, like the channels on a television, were bound to change.

Reliving our seemingly charmed existence in each room of this house, I realize that I may never fully understand what caused you to abandon me to my sorrows. In the end, perhaps I will be better off living in the infinite mystery of our love’s conclusion. Whatever the case may be, please know this. No matter how many transgender Craigslist prostitutes I bring home, my love for you will live on in every room of this house long after I’ve refused to pay them for services rendered.

I love you.

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