the leaving parade

Friday, March 7, 2014


for m.
The Leaving Parade 

Tucked in the corner of southwest Portland is my first apartment, on Grover St. I shared it with two friends, and though Ali and I left, Molly stayed. Now the apartment is emptying, filled with half-packed boxes and loose papers. Molly is leaving. The past year of my life has been filled with people leaving, filled even, with my own leaving. With Molly there are strings that have been holding us together, strings that have unraveled and been resewn, again and again.

It’s the way we lived together, in the Grover St. apartment, for two years, our bedrooms across the hall from each other. The way the patterns of our footsteps reverberated through the apartment The way her typewriter clacking became my typewriter clacking. Our tears and moans vibrated the wall between us. There’s the times a roommate makes you feel like you’re not being swallowed completely by the sea, and times when you feel even more alone in your room, your ears fuzzy with bitterness.

It’s almost—I don’t know how to describe this—a relationship with your eyes closed. When you live with someone, it’s like you’re just living with the feeling of them. Like you’re both in a sun filled room with your thighs pressed together and the color of the sun shining bright orange through your eyelids.

When I moved out, my eyes opened, and there was Molly standing in front of me with her piecey blonde hair, and her little orange backpack, her layered tights, her inside out shirt. She’s the kind of person who’s always falling apart and somehow standing up tall. The kind of person who dreams and dreams and dreams, and then tells you all her dreams. She’s the kind of girl who tells you what you deserve and teaches you to expect respect. She changes her mind, she’s unsure, even as she’s plunging ahead. She’s the strongest vulnerable person I know.

My throat gets sort of tight when I think about it. The past five years condense and my memories come in snippets. Like the night before a photo critique, our first all-nighter in the tiny crappy darkroom, when Molly started crying, the first time I saw her cry. Or the bus rides up to school, the windows fogged from the inside, all the strangers breathing together on their morning commute. Squeezed together in the back of Matthews car. Sharing coffee with her and Ruby. Then it becomes smaller things: the way she pauses, scrunches up her face, and sort of hums when she’s thinking of how best to express herself. Her always recognizable laugh. Her tea bags collecting in cups and on window latches. How she can be so loud, and then curl into herself in the same outing. Faster now. Her pale blonde hair. Her voice from the other room, as she plays the guitar, singing “Sea of Love”. How she leans into you, gives you a nickname. Her uncertainty. That orange hat.

Tonight I will go and say goodbye to her. I will walk out the door, down the steps, through the cobbled pathway for the last time. That smallest bit of motion will carry me over to a Portland future that’s one person smaller. Tonight I will leave a period of my life firmly in the past. No strings will hold me to this place anymore, I will drift away, my memories will continue to compress until they can fit, like pressed flowers or old photographs, between the worn pages of a book.
 





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