Hard Conversations in Your 20s

Just about everything made Dawn laugh, and so it was hard to fight. The day he left, the sun came out. This was yesterday and he did not tell her he was leaving.

Dawn’s friend Anne says things like “It is what it is, you know?” and does not actually believe that it is what it is. Anne takes things seriously in a nice, little way. She is the kind of girl who will pay $17.50 for individually gift-wrapped soap. She really will. Dawn asked Anne if she should go after him. If she should go find him. Bring him back to the apartment where they painted walls together. She would try to have that last fight without cracking up. It was the least she could do.

“We’re good together, right?” Dawn asked Anne. She really meant: Teach me how to properly argue with my boyfriend.

Anne hesitated perfectly before saying “That’s not the question you had in mind, is it?”

Dawn laughed. She laughed for two reasons. One because she was nervous and, two, because she hated being friends with women. All conversations between women eventually turned into something they would want Oprah to be present for. It really annoyed Dawn.

“No, I guess not,” she smirked.

“No smirking,” Anne said. “It does not say what you want to say.”

“What do I want to say?”

“You are allowed to say I need to think about this for a moment, Dawn, if you need the time to collect your thoughts.” Collect your thoughts. Anne says this like the guy who writes refrigerator magnets for a living and is proud of it. All Dawn does is collect thoughts. Hers, theirs, his - it is hard to keep track of proper ownership. What are thoughts anyway? They never seem to be entirely your own. The world is in a taut spin of thoughts. It has not slowed down in centuries.

Dawn has two notebooks. One is called “Things I Cannot Say Out Loud, Even To My Self.” The pages are filled with vapid, spitfire half-truths. The other one is called “Things That Are Lies.” She resorts to the Internet for this notebook even though that is not what the notebook intended for. See, Dawn collects lies as well as thoughts.

The tip of her tongue is being bit this whole time to keep from smiling but Dawn releases it to say “I just fucking love him.” Resumes biting.

“Why is it funny, Dawn?” Anne shoots.

“It’s not!” Dawn snaps. Her frustration pools. They are standing in the kitchen looking at such ordinary household items. Toaster. Microwave. Paper towels. Potholders. Silent witnesses to such quiet melodrama.

“Okay, so it’s not funny! You’re angry! Why?”

“Because he left!”


“Because I am awful at explaining how I feel when I am feeling it!”


“I don’t know! Stop!”

Dawn cannot believe she is still believing hard in all things left unsaid as if everything unsaid was always the truth. She has written this down more than once in both notebooks. Why is it her anger that has to get harbored, brewing like an old recipe looking to escape its formula. She does not know how to answer the “Why?” questions. Her children will be unforgiving. It has already been set in stone.

He is coming up the stairs. She is nerve-wrecked and nauseous. Anne is still there, making it worse for her. Now he will see her having a girls-only therapy session. It is such a cliche. Having friends, having arguments, having potholders. It is all terrible.

Fact? she thinks. No. Lies.

Anne leaves.

“Help,” she begs of him.