The scars that pull you apart

They expected me to find somewhere

Some perspective, but I sat and stared

Right where you left me

— Right Where You Left Me, by Taylor Swift

While listening to Taylor Swift’s “Right Where You Left Me” on my way back from work, crossing the Brooklyn Bridge and meeting strangers’ eyes, I started thinking about the idea of letting go, leaving and moving on. Whether it be letting go of parts of yourself to move on, or to give yourself to someone, or to leave something behind, letting go can mean different things. It might include finding yourself again, or finding some truth at the end. Or, at least, finding someone who sees the truth in all your lies. 

All these tips about forgetting someone, about putting the past behind and moving on, pasted on a single paper lost in hundreds of links, websites and books, disappear the moment you feel exiled, having lost what once was a home. The worst feeling, though, is being the only person exiled. You look at the people around and time doesn’t stop for them. They are out there, buying houses, smelling roses and partying on weekends, while all you could think about is how you gave them your weekends, how they offered you roses instead of begging for forgiveness and how you couldn’t have imagined a house without them in it. How could they leave? 

Everything that is yours ended up leaving. It almost feels like you are a curse, a liability, a rare thing that wears off once it has been discovered, although you hoped the parts you shared were contemplated, loved, honored.

Now, you think about what is yours being discovered again and again, although you could swear they knew better, back then, when none of it mattered because you were together, dancing with no shoes on, sometime after midnight, under a dim light. 

You wake up, sometime after midnight, thinking you didn’t want to let go of what was yours. At times, it felt like they didn’t either, but not for the same reasons. They didn’t want to let go because they liked the idea of owning you, of taking pride in having you for themselves. You still don’t want to let go because you knew who they really were and still wanted them. 

This is now my second year at Stanford and I am still picking up the pieces of myself that I left back at home, in a small town, in Southern Lebanon. I had a hard time adjusting, moving from friends who completed my sentences in a split second to being pushed into a room with strangers who had no idea who I was. I could be anyone, but I wanted them to know who I really was, at my core. I wanted them to see my essence. I didn’t want to tell them anecdotes because I didn’t believe any of the ones they told me. All of my years came to me in that moment, and I was scared it was going to change me forever. I remember wanting to turn my flashbacks into reality, coming back to the warmest bed I’ve ever known and the sunset I love the most, back in my hometown. But then, I remembered that my friends, parts of my heart, are now scattered around the globe, chasing their dreams and building their future. I had a crippling fear that these moments would change them forever and that it wouldn’t be the same when we get back together.  

One thing I didn’t expect to happen is that I, myself, would forget some parts of who I was, leaving them trailing behind me, trying to hold on to me, but I had carried way too much. I was standing on my tallest tiptoes, convincing myself that the end wasn’t too bad, that at least I was trying. Throughout my first year at Stanford, I found myself finding those missing parts of myself that I always knew existed. Sometimes, I would find my way back to them. Some other times, I was fortunate enough to meet people who saw the best in me and believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. 

You don’t lose yourself when you are broken down, when the scars pull you apart. It doesn’t happen so easily. Even when everything is depopulated, when you end up in barren land, when you’ve gotten used to goodbyes, all you’ve ever known is yourself. 

I end up laying in bed, thinking of how many things we let go of, to find other things we hold on to, while we know we’d have to leave, thinking of the woman in the subway, staring too hard at her watch while people were busy getting in and out of the subway. 

And the last thing you wanted

Is the first thing I do

 — The Alcott, by The National & Taylor Swift