Tally Mark One, Tally Mark Two…: A Chronicle of Letting Go

Tally mark one

You, my beloved green notebook, were an impulse buy. Why would I ever spend $24 just to say that I had a “cute” notebook? But I had run inside the store, snatched you up, and opened the fresh pages on that BART ride.

A stranger asked if I was writing my life story as I scribbled along the pages. I said, “No, I’m writing a story of letting go.”

Tally mark two

I’ve always been convinced that the best form of therapy is writing. It clears my head and allows me to think through the more dangerous forms of emotions: anger, blame, denial. My writing has saved me from many moments I would want to reach back and erase.

Tally mark three

As a teacher, I have been told that if you want your students to break a habit, they should keep a tally mark of every day they do not do whatever it is they want to break, and on the 20th tally mark, they would have broken the cycle. I guess I will know soon enough if my own advice was right.

Tally mark four

I stopped by your house with a box of your things, but you were not home, avoiding running into me, so I mailed them instead. I packed my bags and was greeted on the other side of a short flight by a best friend awaiting with open arms and bottles of wine. (I am grateful for that night you made me ‘get it all out’)

Tally mark five

I sit with my feet in the ocean writing poems–some romantic, others oozing with the voice of confusion and regret. The ocean breeze revives me and I begin again.

Tally mark six, tally mark seven, tally mark eight…

And we’re back talking again. I think things may go really well this time. I’m elated at the idea that things will smooth themselves out and we’ll move forward from previous mistakes

Later that day, I bought an ocean someone was selling in Arizona.

But I believed that “Love comes to those who still hope after disappointment.”

And I begin again.

Tally mark one, tally mark two, tally mark three…

I guess the third time is not a charm. And I’m angry because I should have known better

Tally mark four, tally mark five, tally mark six…

It seems silly, but I convince myself that the tally marks will stand the test of time. That one day, I’ll open up the snaps of that green notebook, and find the next tally obsolete.

Tally mark seven, tally mark eight…

In fact, I started writing this over two months ago. It laid forgotten in the depths of drafts I thought deserved more attention. And then I forgot all about it. My mind firmly focused on other, more positive things.

Tally mark nine, tally mark ten…

You send me an email asking for my new address across the ocean and saying that you had cried over old letters I had written you were reading.

I am tempted to send you a page from my beloved green notebook. Or better yet, a photo of my tally marks. But instead I let it go.

Tally mark…?

I don’t remember when I stopped tally marking.

“He offered her the world. She said she had her own.”

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