The parts of you that get trapped inside other people recognize their source. When I flip through my photo album and glance at the face of my ex, the part of me that is trapped inside of him rises up to touch me somewhere on the back of my neck. It softens my face and hurries my eyes to the next page, embarrassed by what it caught on this one. When I open my desk drawer at work, inside there is a picture of me and the boy I just broke up with, the boy in whom I've tangled up little strands of myself that now come out to me in a small, compressed ball whenever I look at that picture. When I see Zack or Angie, casual friends of mine who have severed all contact, the small parts of me inside each of them cry out to be reunited, to come back to me and be comforted.

You can't carve them out like the brown spots of an apple. If it was that simple the parts of you would have never gotten lost. They are the broken off arms of a starfish that cannot regenerate, the sawed off tentacles of a jellyfish whose sting has long since been lost on their host. The more people you love, the more of you is lost in them when you go your separate ways, and you can't help but feel less of a person, less whole, and yet more alive than if you had kept all those parts to yourself.