For the first time in ages, I have a Saturday with nothing on my calendar.

One of the things that kept me so busy recently was a writing workshop on Creative Nonfiction. It was absolutely a delight, but it was also emotionally draining.

The primary piece I submitted for critique was a longer, more thorough version of my “The Galway Guys” post. In the blog version, I wasn’t comfortable including the fact that I spent the night with my Galway Guy. I wasn’t ready to talk about it openly, because I was still processing my emotions about it.

It’s been quite delightful not thinking much about James or writing about him lately. Putting him aside and leaving him in my past is lovely. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean his impact has faded.

I enjoyed my night with the Galway Guy, but not as much as I hoped I might if I ever had the opportunity to be with him again. James was in my head, and the memory of him made it impossible to be as I once was. I wished on that night that I was still my old self, the person I’d been before meeting James, more intensely than I had at any other time since the breakup. But, I wasn’t.

James was in my head, his presence palpable. He grimaced as the Galway Guy and I kissed and rolled his eyes with disgust. “It’s like you’re eating him,” he said.

It was cathartic to write the full story out, but the critique I received showed me that there was still much that was missing. I was skimming the surface of the story. I wasn’t in body, in scene. I was over-using descriptions instead of bringing the reader into the tale. It was gratifying to better understand how to improve what I had done.

Diving in and going deep with this piece was required in order to incorporate everyone’s suggestions. Having done so is one of the more satisfying accomplishments I’ve achieved in recent memory. I got it all out on the page, and the result is something I’m quite proud of.

It was so draining, though. It required every second of spare time over the course of a week or more, and during that time, I had to live with James in my head again. It was necessary in order to get him on the page and into the scene accurately.

It occurred to me that my old self, the pre-James version of me, would have immediately turned to the Galway Guy and flipped him onto the bed, surprising him and making him laugh. She would have crawled up to him until her head was at an equal level to his, put one arm behind his shoulders and one around his waist, and pulled his body against hers.

I wished I was still my old self, but I wasn’t. I walked to the side of the bed and lay down, hoping he would join me.

The opportunity was presented to submit a revised excerpt for the final meeting of the workshop. I went back in with a completely overhauled sex scene, and somehow found the courage to read it out loud to my classmates.

When it was done, after I’d finished reading, the response was enthusiastically positive. I had done what was needed and transformed the piece into something intense and meaningful, in which the reader could feel fully immersed.

For the rest of that evening and the following morning, I felt I had wings. I was flying on a cloud of self-satisfaction, until the moment when I crashed. Without the focus of the work to channel my headspace into, I was left simply existing within that headspace, remembering what life with James had been like and how having experienced that trauma impacted what might otherwise have been a fantasy-fulfilling night with the Galway Guy.

I froze in fear, quickly realizing my error. I’d accidentally challenged James, and there was nothing James liked more than total annihilation of an opponent. His ghost was behind me but I knew it had grown larger and was lit from within in anticipation of battle.

It was hard, and it was sad, and I cried a fair bit.

Thus, today, I’m going to go sit on my couch, watch TV, read a book, probably eat some ice cream, and allow myself to wallow.

It will be a mini-mourning for the night I wished I could have had, and then I will do my best to put it behind me and move on.

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