Standing by the wall
Friday, Nov. 09, 2018 - 4:48 pm.

Andrew and I are traveling to Berlin on Monday, for the whole week. It's our wedding anniversary gift to ourselves. I'm so excited, and a little nervous...mostly excited. We have yet to prepare anything, itinerary and packing and currency exchange, but we have our tickets, our AirBnB, and a friend who will look after the cats. I'm looking forward to walking into Bowie's footsteps during his Berlin years. 

I finally heard about the publishing house regarding my manuscript! They! rejected! it! They were gracious, though, something along the lines of having to pass because of too many projects and not because of the quality of my work. I smiled when I read the rejection letter, I was just relieved to put an end to the uncertainty (and I sort of expected it), and to move on and send the manuscript somewhere else.

I have a few options, and since I've made peace with the fact that this is no award-winning story (I mean, I think it is, but I don't think others agree), I'm not entering it in literary contests. I figure I should give it another read before I submit it to the next publishing house, which is also a major one and thus very likely to reject me. 

Speaking of submissions, two days ago I submitted a short story to a sci-fi magazine. I'm expecting rejection as well, but trying out is free, eh? I also reworked my story for the city's literary festival last month, and I'll have it ready for submission this evening or tomorrow, for another literary magazine. I like this second story better than the sci-fi one, but I still think it's high likely they'll reject me. The flaws of both stories are very obvious, but I can't change them without destroying the stories. I'm praying to the heavens at least one of them will get a yes. Plus, I would like to have something published in English.  

I had an appointment for a pap smear yesterday. I've been slightly triggered by the book I'm reading, "A little life" (one of the most horrendous and beautiful books I have ever read), on top of my usual propensity to feel physically unwell at the thought of certain sex-related themes. I obviously wasn't looking forward to this appointment, but also, fuck cancer. 

Andrew offered to do some maintenance down there, if I believed it would make me feel more confident and relaxed during the pap smear. He did a good job, he was gentle as he always is, but I cried through the whole thing. Something breaks inside of me at the mere touch of the area between my legs. I'm clenching my buttocks and shoulders as I think of this. I've managed to enjoy a penis, and vibrators taught me the pleasure goldmine in there; fingers and tongue make me cringe less than before (thank God for coming out of the closet), but I still avoid them as much as I can. A pap smear is just torture, an ice knife making its way inside me by ripping my tissue apart. 

I made a huge effort not to freak out about the appointment, and I barely thought about it; I actively avoided thinking about it. Then I showed up for it, feeling on the verge of having my body shut down on me. The lovely nurse, with whom I instantly felt safe because she was so sweet to me, asked what my appointment was for, and when I replied, she said my pap smear wasn't due until February. So that was that. 

On the Joseph topic from last week...I had a dream with him one or two nights after my last entry. I was back in my home country, in my neighborhood. I did neighborhood-y stuff, and Joseph was around, sort of trying to get back together with me, but also keeping his distance. At some point, I was walking my dog* and he was there, and we held hands. Right then, a voice in my head said "Andrew", which is funny because in my dream's universe Andrew did not exist. But I heard his name in my head, and I let go of Joseph's hand. It felt so good. 

(*Frog was my beloved dog for about 12 years, she died a few months before Joseph dumped me. I'm sorry to say this dog wasn't really her. I have only dreamed of her once, she ran towards me in my parents' house's garden. If I stop and think about this, I miss her more than I miss Joseph.) 

Throughout these ten years, my dreams have been all I've had to truly work out the loss that Joseph meant for me, and dreaming this was huge. It felt final. It felt like I feel in real life. 

My friend Anna advised me to be careful with Joseph's sudden reappearance in my life. Hearing that from someone other than myself (I haven't told any of my friends about him, and that is something else to unpack), I examined hard what I was feeling about all this. And then I had the dream.

Shortly after, I went ahead and messaged him anyway, telling him what I wrote last entry, that he did not hurt me but destroyed me. Over a day went by without reply. I was OK with that. I figured I'd scared him away, maybe even annoyed him. I have nothing left to lose with this guy. 

He did reply, apologizing again for having been so cruel, and asked somewhat solemnly one favor before leaving me alone: Telling him how I've been these ten years. I did a quick recap in my head and I smiled. I've been AWESOME. But I already knew that. I've been aware of all the good things in my life from day one of our time apart, and despite how heartless he was being to me. 

I was actually eager to respond. Not for him, for me. "Yo, someone wants to hear my story!", and my story is cool. But then it seemed like a lot of emotional labor to talk about that, so I told him he could relax with the apologizing (I deserve that it goes on forever, but I have no use for it), and I'd answer his question after he answered it himself. 

He isn't so far away from what I knew before, save for his parents' situation; his mom died a few months ago, and his dad has dementia, that's just heartbreaking. Then, well, he got married and doesn't regret it (I don't regret not marrying him, but reading that stung), loves his son, traveled around Europe thanks to his card game; he works at a call center, which he thinks is pathetic, or rather he probably thinks I think it's pathetic (I don't), and lives in a nice apartment. My country is a hellhole, so it's nice to know he's doing all right, all things considered. 

I'll answer him, and that will be it. Maybe we'll stay in touch, I don't know. I'm fond of him, always will be, but that's about it, and every new message from him still feels like a punch to my stomach. I just learned to see him that way, perhaps for my own sake. 

OK! IT'S TIME TO GO TO BERLIN. Give me Andrew and Bowie and I'm all set.

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