Infinite Blacktop

“I’m not,” I said. “I’m fucking up everything. Everything I’ve done has been a mistake.”
“Yes,” Ann said. “Probably. That’s what it means to be a person. It means you make horrible decisions, and you fuck everything up. It means you love people, and they leave. It means sometimes no one loves you at all. That’s the state of like 90 percent of humanity at any given moment. You don’t need to make a religion out of it. You don’t need to memorialize everything that hurts. Everything changes, and half of finding peace in life is to stop resisting it. Someone who loved you yesterday doesn’t love you today. Someone you loved is gone now.”
“I can’t,” I said. “I can’t go through this again.”
“You can,” Ann said. “You can and you will. You’re tough. It’s not like you’re going to curl up and fade away. You’re going to be here either way. But you have to decide to try. To try just a little. To be a little open to something good again.”
She could tell by my face I was not encouraged. Maybe she could also tell that I didn’t do well with subtleties. She tried again: “When your heart is broken,” she said, “you can cling to your old, ugly, broken heart, and let it make you ugly. Or you can let that broken heart fall away and die, and let something new and beautiful be born. Your heart will break again, and nothing will change that. The only variable is if you’re going to enjoy life, at least a little, between the broken hearts.”
She put one hand on my face. Her hands were dry and calloused and strong. Touching another human being immediately made me feel like I was fucking something up. If I and another person were getting close, it was a sure bet that even as it was happening, I was ruining it.
“Let this make you beautiful,” Ann said. “Just a little bit. Just one little inch of you. The rest of you can stay ugly and mean and bitter. Someone loved you. She was your friend. You miss her. Let her make one little piece of your heart beautiful.”
I told her I didn’t think I could do that. She said she thought I could, and I would. I promised to keep her secrets. She believed me.
I left, and began the five-day drive back to Los Angeles.

from Sara Gran The Infinite Blacktop

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