When I first started my Cautionary Job downtown, I was told that I would have to park in a parking garage several blocks from my building. It’s about a fifteen-minute walk, but, oddly, I’ve never minded it much. Probably because I sit on my ass allllll dayyyyy longggg, and being able to walk at least thirty minutes every day has been good for my mind, body, and soul.
Also probably because, for a while, that walk gave me plenty of time to talk to Cautionary Lover on the phone. Since he lives in another state, we depended on the phone a lot. He would call in the morning, and we’d talk as I drove to work, parked, went down an elevator, and walked, through two different buildings, two different skybridges, and down two different escalators, to my building, all the way up to the elevators that would take me to my floor, where we would say goodbye, the dinging of the elevator’s arrival marking the end of our conversation. And when my day was finally over, I would call him as soon as I stepped out of the elevator, and he’d accompany me on the walk back to the car. And then I would sit in my car and talk to him until one of us ran out of time and had to go carry on with the part of our life that didn’t involve the other person. The bigger, more demanding part.
When I ended the affair in May, I began walking outside from the garage to my building. The weather was nice enough in the mornings and the evenings throughout the summer and fall, and the way one particular skybridge smelled reminded me so profoundly of his voice that I couldn’t bear to walk through it anymore.
I’ve been lucky: it’s been a temperate winter. I walk inside in the mornings only when I absolutely have to, when it’s windy and freezing outside, or when it’s raining. But even then I always walk outside at night when I’m leaving work, holding my coat closed at the neck with my right hand on the days I forget to wear a scarf, my hair whipping all around me in the cold wind.
All of my coworkers were moved from my garage one by one except me. Somehow I fell through the cracks. “You still park THERE?” they would ask in astonishment. I told them that I actually enjoy the walk. The truth is that even walking outside, I felt as though Cautionary Lover was making the walk with me every day still. Some mornings I would drive up to the garage and, as I swiped my card, think about how, on a day not too long ago, I’d be talking to him as I did it.
It’s incredible what this parking garage has come to represent to me. A parking garage. Downtown. Inconvenient as hell. Pretty run-down. Kind of scary, even. Ill-lit and unsafe, even for all its security measures–there were rumors of stabbings and break-ins. But, for so long, the place Cautionary Lover and I shared our thoughts, feelings, and love.
I got word yesterday that I’m being moved to a parking garage next door to my building. Because of all the recent layoffs, there are a lot of available spaces, and one is for me.
Obviously, as part of the whole letting go thing, I see that this is good. This is a step in a good direction. A new direction. But another part of the letting go thing is overwhelming sadness. It’s not as easy all the time as simply deciding to let go of it. Sometimes it feels as though it won’t let go of me.
But when I leave work in about an hour, I’m going to make that walk one more time. Down the elevator, across the street, inside the building, up the escalator, through the skybridge, into another building, up another escalator, through another skybridge to another elevator, and to my car.
And never walk it again.