Before we met each other, Julia and I both collected beach rocks and put them in little piles, here and there in our houses—on the edge of the bathtub, in a corner of a windowsill. When we discovered this shared pleasure, we didn’t make a big deal out of it; it reflected what was all around us: though we are very different people, we have very similar sensibilities.
The reason I bring this up is because all day yesterday, though it was still Scout Day, I thought about Julia—about how abandoned I feel by her, etc. That is a family of origin thing for me—the abandonment, but also the not being allowed to say how I feel, or be who I really am for fear of rage or isolation or abandonment or threat of loss of love or ridicule—so maybe I’m just pinning something on Julia that is not hers to be pinned on. Maybe a person has a right to just break up with their partner of seven years without much explanation, or any attempt at trying to heal things in therapy, period: time to move on, bye-bye.
In any case, I was thinking of her all day: missing her. And I was thinking about what it is that I miss, and then I relaxed and I got it. I miss her. When I was standing in the cold at the gas station at exit 50-something on the LIE, and they were playing some silly, wonky pop music, loud, out into the night, and the lights were too bright, and I had my mala in my left hand while I pumped ridiculously expensive gas, I just missed Julia, who for the past seven years might have been in the car playing with the radio or checking her email, talking to a tiny dog, or inside the glass gas station itself buying chips or water, or hopping back and forth from one foot to the other, her legs straight, so the movement was a very exaggerated side-to-side thing, talking to me, or dancing exaggeratedly to the music, because she is a clown and loved to make me laugh.
Later, when Toby and I were sitting at the bar at the Whiskey Wind—pool table, Foosball, beautiful pit bull greeting everyone, drunks, lady bartenders and other than that, mostly empty—the Fleetwood Mac song, “Landslide” came on, and, wow, I knew Julia would love it there, in that bar. Or maybe it was just that I wanted her there, at that very moment. It was like being, once again, run through with a lance: the terrible loss. I loved just being with her, anywhere. That’s what I miss about her: I miss her in my life. I miss our daily-life adventures: Whole Foods, out to dinner, CVS, iTunes. It was always an adventure: the adventures of Julie and Deitch.
While I was driving between those two places, the gas station and the Whiskey Wind, I thought about relationships in general, and how so much of them—because we are so busy, all of us—are made up largely of just knowing the person is there, at work, at home, in transit. You don’t talk a whole lot during the day, but you’re both thinking about dinnertime and what you’re going to do; you don’t talk a whole lot during the day, but when something happens that’s either good or upsetting, you call, and you tell your person, and they’re happy for you, or they’re angry on your behalf, or they help you work your way through a problem: “Is this my problem or my colleagues?” “So-and-so hung up on me, and I don’t know what to do.” “Guess what?” you say—”guess what?” “Guess what, Deitch—I’m getting out early! Wanna meet for dinner?!” “Guess what, Jul—I got a cool writing job.” Like that. That’s what makes up ninety percent of relationships, I thought: the knowing that your partner is there for you, and you’re there for them, and the incredible, incredible comfort of that, and marvel of that—that someone has chosen you, and loves you. So many people never find that.
But I found that with Julia, and had that for seven years, and, no matter what our problems, I never wanted to be without her. I remember our friend Lynn, who we spent at least an evening a week with for at least a year before this breakup, saying to me one day a few months ago, while we were still very much together, that she envied what Julia and I had: that we just made each other laugh constantly—that we just had a constant, humorous understanding about our experience of the world together. That we were friends, and how enviable was that? She shook her head and told me how lucky we were, and I knew it. I knew it then, and I know it now.
Anyway, what I miss about Julia is Julia. I’m sorry if it makes you uncomfortable, me saying this: I have to start saying what I feel, and stop being afraid of the consequences. I know that Julia and I had huge problems, but we also had each other in an incredibly rare way. If we had seen the enormous luck of that, and the enormous power of it, maybe we would have sought a solution to our problems early enough to not have dead-ended in a perfect storm of family-of-origin mishegas, which we had no control over when we were little girls, but that now we might actually be able to see, and, because we love each other, heal.