It’s been a week since I last saw you. Almost two months since we stopped sleeping together. Four months since you started dating someone new. Seven months since you moved out. Eight months since you shattered my picture of our future. One year since we moved into our new apartment together. Sixteen months since you photographed my sister’s wedding. Eighteen months since we returned from France. Nearly two years since I greeted you at the airport in Paris. Three years since we first moved in together. Three years and some months since you first told me you loved me. It was during the same trip when I took you to meet my parents. It had already been two months since I had first met yours. Further back in our history was our first fight: three and a half years ago (still one of my most memorable St. Patrick’s Days).  It was more than three and a half years ago that we first had sex. Almost four years since we began hanging out. And, it was nearly five years ago when we first met.

These are the events by which I have been marking my time – something I have been doing for far too long.

And well past when it should have ended. Yet I find myself sitting here at this computer with tears falling fast because I know that this is the true end of the era of you in my life. I first noticed it last week when person after person asked me when I am leaving. It is no longer the question of how long it has been since us. It is now only a question of me and what I am doing. And I realized that for a number of weeks now I have ceased to mark my time by you and have begun to mark it for the future instead.

It is less than one week until I board a plane to Frankfurt. One month from now I will be arriving in Istanbul and meeting my future roommate. Six weeks until my orientation. Two months until school begins. Six months until my return to Sacramento. From there on out it gets a little bit hazy. The one thing of which I am certain, however, is that I will be coming back to this place with all new experiences, none of which will contain any memory of you.

And when I return, my time will only be marked by when it was that I left.

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REBECCA ADLER is from Sacramento, CA, where she is a grad student in applied linguistics and works as a freelance journalist. Her work has appeared in Jane & Jane, Sacramento Business Journal, and Comstock's Business Magazine, among others. She also keeps a book review blog and can be found on Facebook or Twitter.

One response to “Marking Time”

  1. Original Comment Thread Below:


    Comment by Zara Potts
    2009-08-06 01:31:15

    Hey Rebecca.
    I can relate and I’m sorry you feel such loss and pain. Marking the days is so incredibly painful and it is just as painful knowing that, as you so beautifully put it, the future days will hold no memory.
    But the old cliche is true – Time heals. I wish I could make it move faster for you, but I know that in the (very near) future you are going to have new memories that don’t hurt. Keep writing, it makes it better.
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Rebecca Adler
    2009-08-06 16:25:54

    Thanks Zara! I find that writing helps, but I worry I sound too whiny sometimes. It’s only when I REALLY can’t sleep that I’ll finally post something about it. Somehow it helps to get other people’s points of view too…
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Zara Potts
    2009-08-07 20:03:59

    Not whiny at all… very nicely done with no whine factor!
    (Comments wont nest below this level)
    Reply here

    Comment by Simon Smithson
    2009-08-06 02:05:04

    Aw Bec…

    The thing I don’t like about pain is, it hurts. And I’d prefer that neither I, nor anyone I care about has to experience it. Ever. True, you could say that it’s a valuable learning experience, but, really, if you never had a bad time, you’d never have to learn anything!

    Like Zara, I wish I could make time move faster for you as well. And travel is a great healer.
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Rebecca Adler
    2009-08-06 16:27:10

    Travel is THE healer for me. I always thought it was weird that some people can keep on living their lives in the same place and with the same people when they have things to work through. Me, I need to step away, have some breathing room and then come back fresh. Or, maybe I just need an excuse to travel 😉
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Brin Friesen
    2009-08-06 05:32:38

    I’m sorry, too. I agree with Zara that getting this out will help. We’ve all lost someone we envisioned a future together with at one time or another and it’s the most rotten feeling I know. A pigeon shat on my face in Venice while I was desperately calling from a pay phone back to my girl who dumped me.

    I don’t believe you when you say *he* shattered your future together anymore than I believe myself the hundreds of time I’ve said the same thing to myself about the girls who’ve dumped me. You’re not a victim. You chose each other. If you chose him and at this stage being together isn’t right for the two of you, there’s room now for something more where there wouldn’t be, unhappily, if he’d stayed.

    And I think the strength you showed with this piece illustrates that you’ll be able to reach for more than you had with this person rather than settling on less. That speaks well of him and the two of you.
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Rebecca Adler
    2009-08-06 16:30:39

    Ah, Brin, always so logical. Too bad my brain doesn’t think so logically when I’m trying to place blame somewhere. You are SO right. Things obviously weren’t working or we’d still be together. I guess I just felt like everything was falling apart at that time. But I’ve managed to pick up the pieces and find a much stronger me than the one that was with him back then. I think that’s the best thing to come out of this. And the next best thing will definitely be that I’ll find someone who will be right.

    And, Jesus, do you have some stories. I got shat on by a pigeon in Paris, but I was just having a bad day – not getting over heartache.
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Aaron Dietz
    2009-08-06 05:45:53

    Rebecca, this is a nice short–I love the backward time-travel presentation. SO effective for sharing this experience. It nails what it is to mark time in this way. And it hurts.
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Rebecca Adler
    2009-08-07 10:19:34

    Thanks Aaron!
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Greg Olear
    2009-08-06 06:04:41

    I’ve been there. I know that pain.

    And I remember when it stopped for me. One day, I just got sick of crying, and I felt better, suddenly, just like that. This will happen to you, too. Istanbul, set as it is at the crossroads from one place to another, is a perfect place for you to go now.

    Be well, and happy travels.

    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Rebecca Adler
    2009-08-07 10:20:31

    I like the idea of Istanbul marking a crossroads both figuratively and literally. Very cool. Thanks Greg.
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Matt
    2009-08-06 06:21:37


    When my ex broke up with me and moved out–after almost 7 years–she at least had the good graces to move 2000 miles across the country. While out of sight was not quite out of mind, it was easier to move on without having the constant reminders around. Ultimately, we can’t–no matter how hard we may wish to try–convince our significant others that their lives are better with us than without us; that’s their decision to make. How the decide (and how they put that decision into action) says everything about them, and nothing about us.

    Fuck ‘em. His loss. Enjoy the freedom of being single. Have fun on your trip. Take lots of photos.
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Rebecca Adler
    2009-08-07 10:22:17

    Right after the breakup I went to counseling and my therapist made a really good point: It takes two people to decide to start a relationship, but only one of those people to decide to end it. I had never thought about relationships in that way, but it’s so true. I think that’s what makes it so hard. If you’re not the one who was involved in the ending part then you spend (at least I have) a lot of time trying to figure out where that decision came from.
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Erika Rae
    2009-08-06 07:52:15

    I like the way you presented this.

    There was a graduation speaker I heard about recently – He unraveled a tape measure out to 76 or so inches – each inch representing one year of the average person’s life. And then he blocked off the 4 inches that represented the graduating candidates’ life in school. It looked so small in comparison with the big picture. Your piece made me think of this. So small – and yet so powerful, too.

    You’re going to rock Istanbul. Luck to you.
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Rebecca Adler
    2009-08-07 10:24:17

    What a great way to visualize time. And it’s so true. If I really looked at how much five years of my life really has been, it’s not even 20% at this point. And there are so many more memories to come that will make those five years start to look even smaller. I really appreciate the comment. Thanks so much.
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Don Mitchell
    2009-08-06 11:42:49

    After a nasty breakup one time, I went to this therapist who was a nun, in her other life. She was good.

    I asked for help so I could stop thinking about the woman who had left me, all the things we’d done, and so on.

    She said, You probably can’t. Don’t try. Think of your memory as a space that, when it takes in new things, pushes out old ones. Your new happy memories will crowd out the bad ones.

    So I thought of my memory that way, regardless of whether it really was that way or not, and it was helpful.

    Sounds to me as though you’re headed for some serious new-memory territory. Might work for you.
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Rebecca Adler
    2009-08-07 10:26:25

    Thank goodness that our memories are flawed. I’m so glad that my new memories will begin to crowd out the old ones. And also that I tend to only really hold on to the happy memories. My mind likes to forget about many of the unhappy things.
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by D.R. Haney
    2009-08-07 02:12:23

    I loved the clock-turning-back of the beginning, and the letter-made-public of the whole thing. It slightly recalled, for me at least, Alexander Maksik.

    Go forth and meet your new memories. And may they all be heavenly.
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Rebecca Adler
    2009-08-07 10:29:11

    Thanks Duke! I’m glad you liked it.
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Brin Friesen
    2009-08-07 09:01:05

    I felt the Maksik influence too.

    I think you’re gonna have an amazing time.

    And if you don’t a place in the harem will always be reserved.
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Rebecca Adler
    2009-08-07 10:30:12

    Thanks guys. It’s an honor to be compared to Maksik. That guy is amazing!

    Definitely smiling Brin…although I thought there were no white chicks allowed in the harem… 😉
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Brin Friesen
    2009-08-07 09:01:23

    (forgive me, but I was trying to get you to smile)
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Irene Zion
    2009-08-07 09:50:06

    Oh Rebecca,
    I am so sorry.
    The trip will change things for you.
    Your perspective will be altered forever.
    You will heal.
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Rebecca Adler
    2009-08-07 10:33:58

    Thank you Irene.
    I’m counting on the trip to change my life.
    And I’m hopeful that it will be in more ways than I can even imagine right now.
    I cannot wait to share the happy new memories with you all.
    And to leave these others behind.
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Brin Friesen
    2009-08-07 10:35:31

    You’re a white chick!
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by jmb
    2009-08-08 05:19:03

    Is pain worth the depth it brings?

    I dont know. I despise it in its time.

    Go forth friend
    there is another
    waiting for you
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Marni Grossman
    2009-08-09 12:40:06

    There are, of course, people in your life who will be marking time by how long it will be until you return. Who will be waiting with bated breath for you to come back.
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Rebecca Adler
    2009-08-09 13:26:49

    Aw, I love that Marni. How is it that that never occurred to me? Obvs a little self-involved over here…
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Colleen McGrath
    2009-08-21 23:18:01

    And today is marked with a bike tour of Berlin.

    I’m sorry you went through such a hard break up. Everyone can relate but it doesn’t help when you’re in the throws of the painful part though. Sounds like you’re ready to move forward though and that’s the first step to being happy again. Your adventure will wipe the slate clean, I’m quite sure. Hang in there!
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Kyél
    2009-08-22 01:09:14

    Life is literally insane, coming out of my most serious relationship to date shortly before leaving for Iceland I found a lot of similar emotions in myself. You in reality put the words to such situations VERY well. Though everyone´s experience is different I am sure-the one thing that stands out to be the most amazing to me, is the resilience of independence. Being beaten, crushed and sometimes completely forgotten, it still survives, still comes back with a smile (eventually) and you (I) wonder, ‘where was I’.
    I think you´re trip has the most beautiful timing for you, for you now have the chance, ability and desire to explore this new life that is yours, for you. =)
    Reply to this comment

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