All I’ve ever learned from love is how to shoot somebody who outdrew ya.

Top Hat

What do we really mean when we say we have moved on?  I have moved on with my life, you say.  He says, I’m moving forward.  She says, let’s keep moving.

We use this idea of constant motion to counteract what is actually happening, what is the sad truth of the matter:  we are stuck.  In effect, to declare that you have moved on implies that, instead, you haven’t really at all.  We say it aloud in order to convince ourselves that our words are true, in order to believe them wholly and without wavering, so that the sentiment is not just something we say but something that we become.  To profess it is to really proclaim the opposite, right?

Not only is “I’ve moved on” a bold-faced lie, generally speaking, so too is the phrase it’s often interchangeably used with:  “I’m over you.”  What we’re probably saying is that we’ve moved past the obsessive phase, where we think vindicated thoughts and we somehow manage to be reminded of you all the time by tiny cues that have no real connection to you at all.  We’re probably saying that the thought of you occurs to us far less frequently than it used to, but we can still conjure your image with relative ease.  We can still, with rote memorization, remember particular biting or beautiful comments you’ve made and we’re also probably saying that we remember what it felt like to kiss you and hold your hand and how you looked when you were driving and other nauseating and unfortunate remembrances that are, above all else, terribly inconvenient.

I caught the words “I’ve moved on” slip out of my mouth recently and as soon as they left me I wished I could pluck them out of mid-air and take them back.  I’m still not sure why I said it – up until that point I had believed it whole-heartedly that I really had, in fact, moved on, and I was worried that if I said them to you you would know that I hadn’t.  I felt like I was seeing the entire interaction from this separate distance, watching myself sit up very straight, my arms crossed against my chest, staring pointedly ahead, daring anyone to wrong me again.  The music was loud and the conversation was difficult and it brought about emotions I had allowed to lie dormant for a long time, but I remained calm.

I delivered my monologue, and then I stood up and I walked away, leaving the warm, overstimulated, dizzy atmosphere of the bar and walking into the markedly dark night.  I crossed the street in my five-inch heels, slid into the front seat of my little silver Mazda 3, ignited the engine and drove back to my childhood home crying, tears blurring the headlights in front of me.  I heard the replay of what I had said:  “I’m fine now.  I have moved on with my life.”    I was crying with such relief because, finally, I knew – even though I said it aloud – that I really had.

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