The following is an unedited transcript for Season 1, Episode 5 of my podcast, Written, Spoken, provided to help all of my readers and listeners — especially those with hearing disabilities or for whom English is not a primary language — access and enjoy the content of each and every episode. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or other platforms here.
The Boston Skyline (Or, From My Heart to Yours)
[00:00:03] There I’m Dave Ursillo. Welcome back to Written, Spoken. We’re at the halfway point of season one. In the first episode of my new podcast, I told you about a so-called “wave of change” that I felt like I saw coming for months but still caught me by surprise when it finally arrived. As I found myself “suddenly soaking wet”, so to speak with the change I had found me. I spent the following months meditating on the two halves of the so-called creative equation: one half, the fun and light and joyful side of making or creating; the other half, the destructive side, release surrender, letting go, detaching, or in some cases being broken wide open. That’s where this story today picks up. Here’s the episode.
[00:00:55] Dear friend. The last time that I found myself on the train from Providence to Boston the site of the Boston skyline made me break down in tears. It was early November and I was making my way to London for a work trip less than two weeks before I had made the difficult decision to end my relationship. After a particularly tumultuous year, the sight of the Boston skyline hit me so hard because just two weeks and three days earlier the skyline was one that I was reveling in alongside my former partner and her — our — dog.
[00:01:31] We were there for a short weekend getaway for an intimate concert performed by a musician that she adores. It was a tiny show at this strange bar that was poorly run and ill-lit with unflattering acoustics, all of which seemed really out of place to host such a talented singer and performer visiting the area from Nashville.
[00:01:50] We had a lovely night. Altogether. It was a lovely weekend.
[00:01:55] On the day we left to go home to Rhode Island, three days before things came undone, when I hit another breaking point, when I again said that I couldn’t do this anymore, the Boston skyline shown vividly in late autumn sunlight. I remember it fading into the horizon from the rearview mirror of my car. Her beside me. The dog, snorting all the while. Three days pass.
[00:02:23] Full of the kind of gusto that is born of brooding frustration and resentment and defiant anger that fuels us “breakees” forward and out of the crushing reality of our heartbreaks — at least for a while, until the fever wears off and the true hurt and mourning and pain all come rushing to the surface — I was able to navigate the days following my breakup by busying myself with work and looking ahead to my upcoming travels to London.
[00:02:51] Forward focus, I told myself. Usher in the new. Rebirth. Renewal. You’ve been here before. You’ll be better than ever. Keep going keep going.
[00:03:06] I would have told myself anything if it meant keeping my mind away from my heart my hurt and my slow but certain breaking. Then on a slow train approaching Boston’s South Station. That skyline. I was already feeling vulnerable and exposed because for the previous two years of relationship with my partner she’d become my travel partner as much as my romantic partner and best friend despite traveling the world being something that I had done mostly on my own for years previous. Now without her there even the idea of travelling on my own felt foreign strange and uncomfortable. She had been there with me on trains and airplanes shuttles and buses taxis and Lyft rides in rental cars in Norway, Los Angeles and Airbnbs in Portugal and Italy; at hotels in Atlanta; in riyads in Morocco and on and on and on.
[00:04:08] If my first journey without her had already left me feeling naked and uncomfortable without my companion, without my trusted partner, my safety blanket, my love, by my side the sight of the skyline lit in a whole rush of heartache that I’ve been trying to bury. At the sight of those buildings I truly fell into the gaping wound of her absence. I felt the impossible emptiness of her not there with me just two weeks after she was there with me. Same skyline, same town, same vivid posture and color and shape an angle. In the late autumn sun. The sight of that skyline crushed me. What I had done. Crushed me. Even though I felt it was right.
[00:04:57] For the following hours and up until boarding my flight I felt like a broken ghost to the man empty and vacant. I was lost even though I was heading in the right direction and on schedule I was without a soul without purpose without meaning without without without her. I thought of what felt like an impending panic attack. Out in out anxiety nodded by sudden second guessing and a rush of memories that launched a harder and faster undoing of all the dreams plans and fighting for us that we both had done for months and months. Launching myself in that state across an ocean? Even if all I had to do is sit or sleep and try not to fall apart it felt like the hardest thing to do. The loneliest task. It was as if saying goodbye to that skyline on that day meant admitting a final goodbye to us. To the memories of us to the possibility of us. Leaving that skyline behind felt like leaving the whole two years of us behind and the years prior. We were first together and when she first said goodbye to me and the long deep heartbreak that was our first ending. I never thought I would get the chance to be with her ever again. I thought that our ending the first time was the worst ending the hardest ending. It was one that I thought was my mistake. It was my great regret one that I would never get the chance to undo. When she suddenly came back into my life for full years later I called her. The memory I get to live again. I said that I would never go a day without telling her that I loved her.
[00:06:51] Then the skyline. The memory. It’s over now. For good this time. There will be no more. I love yous.
[00:07:07] It’s been months since the site of the Boston skyline drove home the weight of the difficult decision that I made to end my relationship — a relationship that I thought might be the last I’d ever been and wanted it to be. I really fought hard to make it so. So did she. She fought really really hard too.
[00:07:27] And now as I write you I’m on that same train in a similar seat pulling into Boston. This time the skyline is obscured by nightfall. I don’t need to see it to know it’s there. I remember how it looks I remember what it feels like to see it; how the sight of it made me feel the weight of the loneliness of my choices.
[00:07:54] Have you ever done what you thought was right and resided fully in the truth that it was and is the right choice for you? And still felt your heartbreak and break and break for it? I’m sure you have. I know you have. From my heart to yours today I just want to say that I see you for it. I know what you must be feeling. Even if I can never really know the whole feeling even if I can never see or possibly appreciate the whole entire story. I’m sorry that you’re feeling it.
[00:08:36] Here’s what few words I could try to offer. Time has the effect of providing ever greater distance from the past. For what was to feel less a burden, all you really need to do is to endure time’s passage. Give it time, people say, you’ll feel better. Maybe they’re right. But I don’t want to just endure the passage of time for a hurt to feel less hurtful. I used to want that. I used to try to just survive it to make it to the other side. Now I try to reside within the breaking. I tried to hold my wounds and mend them with soft words, and cry when soft words won’t do, and get angry and sink into my shadow, and write a lot, and pray to the Goddess and to source into abundance for reprieve and kindness and blessings. I tried to acknowledge the whole of the lost the sorrow of the tragedy. I’m not saying that this is what you should do. But at least for today I can say that the site of the Boston skyline did not destroy me again. Maybe that’s because the passage of time has made the hurt less hurtful. Or maybe it’s because residing within the breaking changes the breaking itself.
[00:10:09] Less broken down more broken open. If I had a guess I’d say that’s helping too. From my heart to yours. Dave.
[00:10:28] Thanks for listening to Written, Spoken. Another new episode next week. Until then, I’m Dave Ursillo.