The Stuff I Leave Behind

Carly and I wrote once about the stuff left behind, by guys. But I haven’t touched on the stuff, the baggage, the things I have discarded in apartments, lost under beds, throughout a multitude of neighborhoods in this city.

I got a text from a dude who I dated for a minute saying, “You will be pleased to know I found your earrings.” (I seem to lose many a pair of earrings.)

I have not talked to this guy in at least 6 months. And just now you have found those earrings that I asked you to search for 6 months ago?

I once started something with an old flame because we met up again so he could return my stuff. Nothing all that important— a scarf, a Bears t-shirt, a hat. But he had that stuff for almost two years. I hadn’t spoke to him in over a year. He moved this random crap from apartment to apartment with that stuff still in hand, so why just now decide to give it back?

Here’s my theory:

Guys (and all people possibly) hold onto the stuff left behind until they decide they want to see you again. It’s held as a type of personal collateral for when they’re feeling lonely, bored, or undersexed, and then BAM, a solid excuse to see you. Currently, a dude is holding onto (yet another) pair of earrings and a hand knit scarf (I’m also really great at leaving scarves around town apparently). Sure, the earrings cost $3 at H&M and the scarf was a Columbia student’s art project, but damn it, I want them back. But I also know sometimes it’s just not worth it, and sometimes it’s better to cry about those super cute earrings you’ll never see again rather than cry because homedude disappointed you, yet again.

What I hadn’t considered is what people hold onto that isn’t physical stuff. The quirks that only a few people know. The intimate details of the sound of my teeth grinding while I sleep or my super ugly toenails. But deeper than that too. The knowledge of the raw details about me as a person— my fears, my scars, my insecurities.

This is the stuff, the collateral, the ransom, much more difficult to leave behind. So when your ex tells you he misses you, this is what surfaces. This is the stuff left behind that you’re not sure you ever want to share with anyone else. Why sometimes it’s easier to want to get it back and in turn, just get back with him.

I’ve evaluated this concept quite deeply today, and while it’s tempting to answer that call of “I miss you” and regain that collateral, sometimes, just like that hand knit scarf, you have to let it go and go back to H&M and buy a new $3 pair of earrings. Or in this case OkCupid and for a new dude. The new ones are more modern, sturdy, taller, shinier, exciting, supportive, and hot anyway. You may have to take some time to search, but don’t go back just to find what you thought you lost.

-Melinda