Letter to an Ex (Dear Person #52)

by austin beaton

Dear Restore Doubt Pinetree,

How long did we date? 3 months? 4?

The last time I saw you was in the dark of that house on Alder, the cyclists passing by the front porch where we drunkenly made out one time.

Earlier in the night we looked at the skyline that wasn’t a skyline of Eugene from the water silos up in the hills at the secret spot that you showed me. You were moving to Los Angeles and I told you I wasn’t interested in long distance.

Our last minutes together I played for you Paul Simon’s “Obvious Child” and we stared at the cedar floor, not talking. I was blind then to how I loved to control moments like they were my little worlds.

At that time I was obsessed with the drums in that song and how in a few lines of lyrics he moves so much in time:

We had a lot of fun, we had a lot of money

We had a little son, we thought we’d call him Sonny

Sonny gets married and moves away

Sonny has a baby and bills to pay

Sonny gets sunnier day by day by day by day

Our romance started on a bus with a stripper pole and disco lights.

Did you think to doubt it?

I did, but I questioned everything then.

In the last four years I’ve restored myself—meditating, gratitude journaling, taking anti-anxiety medication.

I learned what anxiety was and about panic and that I’d been having it my whole life.

You probably figured that. I’m sorry for snapping at you when you told me you didn’t think the bar would let me in because I was wearing sandals.

Most hours of life for me were made of angst and indecision, annoyance and apathy.

Remember when it was so hard for me to choose to go to the beach? We listened to the second Bon Iver album on the way back, following the marshy river just outside Florence.

I still haven’t connected to that album, but the first and third and his earlier EPs are some of my favorite music.

I saw him a few weeks ago in the hills below the stars in Santa Barbara with my lover and friend who’s also a poet. The live songs from 22, a Million sounded like the original versions, making the recorded seem two-dimensional and flatly electronic.

Do you still go to concerts? I always thought it was so cool how much you loved Kid Cudi, how well you memorized his lyrics.

Earlier today I walked past a peaceful border collie sitting alone on the sidewalk, without a leash. Once I was ten feet past she started barking and snarling at me. Her owner jumped out from a cafe, apologizing, “I’m sorry! I think it’s your bike helmet, she’s not used to seeing helmets.”

That’s how I look at myself in the past—a dog prone to snap at something inconsequential, something that wouldn’t hurt me.

I’m glad you didn’t have to date that version of me longer than you did.

But, I’m pretty okay with me, now.

Have you been to the other side of fear?

It’s a different planet.

I never found it until I moved to California and away from the pine trees and started writing every day, like when I was a little kid.

How human it is to have to relearn lessons again and again?

Be well,


Austin Beaton is a poet writer essayist who somewhere in the multiverse is still a kid hurling pinecone baseball pitches. His work has appeared in Porridge Magazine, the Bookend’s Review, Occulum, and elsewhere.

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