4:58 a.m.

to wait and wait and wait

You wake up at 4:58 a.m., and you count your blessings. At least you’re awake.

You didn’t think it would be a bad day. If anything, you had designed the week on this new sleep schedule, on this farmer’s time system. But you turned to your side, and it was there, lurking behind your morning breath.

You opened your phone, let the offensive blue light blind you as you took in what you missed when you were away. Your friend got an A on her exam, your mom had a spamming Snapchat story for the first time, and you found out the boy you sort-of, maybe, kind-of like sometimes has found someone to bump uglies with.

So you can imagine where you’re left now. That ghost of sadness only ever needs a glimmer of a bait to throttle itself into full force. You put on your Blues playlist and you cry, because again, you’re struck with the realization that there isn’t a person you can put all these broken sentences into.

You never liked him that much anyways. It wasn’t about that. You had all these half-maybes in your life, but none of them knew you were giving them consideration—none of them knew you at all. It was about your desperate attempt to give something to someone, to anyone, who would be willing to take it.

Here is all of me, you’d say. And, interrupting, the lurk would tell you, “I will take it.” But the lurk weighs you down, pulls you into the spaces between the songs, so you tell the lurk to go away. But the lurk plays you a picture of the life you’ve led and the life you’ll lead, whispering, “Nobody loves you like I do.”

You are exasperated! You are violently smashing every molecule that keeps you here! What is there, if there isn’t someone who will hold you together, who will make the blue light of your mornings bright yellow? But you pick at the friends and loved ones in your life like an old scab, and you try to say, “Please show me what love is.”

But you can’t pick at wounds thinking that’s how they heal. So you decide to disappear, but there’s no use in hiding from those whose only offense is trying to make your life fuller. You go to the mountains; you look at the art in the museums. Again and again you tell the lurk to go away, and you say to the world, “Show me something that will replace the dark.”

Maybe all of this art will fix you. Maybe all these songs will give you your cure. Maybe, just maybe, one day you will wake up, and you will think to yourself, “What an odd time it was when I thought the world wasn’t worth sticking around for.” But maybe you can’t wait for that … maybe you have to hold your edges together for yourself, not for the version of yourself that you think the world wants. There is no use running toward something when you’re the only person you need to run to.

It’s 4:58 a.m. again, and you haven’t gone to sleep yet this time. All of that staying up to fix your life schedule was lost to the late night bruisings. You flicker from tab to tab, read emails over and over again that you can’t yet reply to, stare into the modern 21st-century abyss that is the internet, and feel like you’re waiting. You place a finger on the center of your chest, and you think this is where the hole would be, where all your waiting would finally come and settle. You press a little harder, hoping the resident of the hole would show up and feel welcomed, at home.

But the little part of you, the original occupant of the hole you created, calls out, tries to get you to listen. All these years you took that part of you and made it smaller and smaller until you convinced yourself the hole was always vacant from the start. Those songs that croon into your ear, that feel like nostalgia for a life you used to know, that is the small part of you that once was—and can be again.  But here is what you have to tell yourself when you’re aching for some sort of magic that is not your own: You were not designed as a half for someone else to complete. You were not made to wait and wait and wait. Your tragedy is that you live your life as though you were.