In the midst of happy stories, I will sneak in the end of my last chapter, not a happy ending, I am sorry for that (not for you, dear readers, I am selfishly only sorry for me).
This story ended some time ago, really, but for this post to make sense, I have to explain a little further. The breakup with my boy was a combination of distance (and all the challenges that entails), our careers (which didn’t make relocation possible), and the fact that we just weren’t sure enough to discuss the future seriously. There was no dramatic falling out, we did not run out of relationship steam, we just got to the point where the terrible sadness of being apart outweighed the joy of being together, and we had agreed that when that happened, we would end it. He hit the point where the scales tipped before I did, and I had to let him go because I couldn’t fix it.
Fast forward many months… my job situation had changed, and I still had not been able to put him cleanly behind me.
I wrote to him, and sat with this letter written and ready for a long time, I kept expecting that the urge to send it would pass, that I would ‘get over it’, that the ache would gentle into memory, that some lovely man would make me laugh and show me the future. In the end, I needed to get it out, to stop waiting for it to dissipate on its own. In the end, I sent this to my boy:
It has been well over a year, you should be a gentle light and fading memory, something sweet in the drawer that I take out and hold close occasionally and smile over. You are not, you are sharp and pointed and spiky and I feel you when I move around in the world, when I pointlessly try to find the thing that I want. I am not able to let go of you, it is unfinished and the ‘what ifs’ waft around me, despite my swatting and my obstinate refusal to look directly at them.
Perhaps you have moved on, are whole, healed, happy, in love. The generous part of me does hope that might be true; I like to think of you living there lightly, with shy smiles at the world and your heart full, though I would, given half the chance, enact terrible violence on creatures who gave you what I could not.
Despite appearances, I rarely take real risks, but my life is different now, and risks not taken and opportunities lost are more sad making, magnitudes more, than simply making the leap and landing in a mess on the ground, uncaught. If I fall, I can dust myself off and be happy that I jumped.
So here it is, the step into the void:
I want to come and spend time with you, to play this out, to see if I am your capital M Marker, to see, truly, what this is that I can’t let go of. I will find a little place nearby for a month or two, we will date like we are back in high school and have sleepovers and kiss until our mouths bleed. We will have a chance to really see if this is something, to play it out as if we are sweethearts, as if you are my boy and mine, as if we have no limitations beyond those that prevent me from stripping the skin from your body and hanging it as a curtain. What happens after that, I am not sure, but I am freer to make decisions on location than I was before, should it come to that, and I have resolved to stop letting things that make me happy slip away. You are a thing that made me happy.
If your answer is ‘no’, I do not really expect a reply to this email, though I would appreciate one, it would be a final kindness. A ‘no’ would help me to close the door that I seem to be unable to close, despite putting my back against it and pushing with all of my strength. I hope, though, that you will take my hand, trust that it is worthwhile, and jump with me. I have no expectations if you say ‘yes’, other than that you be genuinely open and enthusiastic and hopeful about it and that you put your heart into it with me.
‘What if’, baby? To me, the risk is worth it, I am not done with you yet. Come and talk to me gently about it and I will hold your hand and cover your eyes.
I did not receive a reply from him, I didn’t expect one, truly. His way of coping had been to withdraw from me, and I knew that hearing from me would not sit lightly with him. And for me, it was enough to have put myself out there, to have overcome the fear of it, to have reached for what I wanted, to feel as if I had let it go.
More than a month later, he replied. The email arrived in my inbox and punched me in the stomach, it didn’t arrive softly and raise a gentle and curious eyebrow, the name announced itself and shocked me with its heavy impact.
It was a sweet note, heartbreakingly familiar, he called me ‘Ma’am’, apologised for the delay but it had been hard to write to me, he said. He said he missed me and thought of me always and in the middle, awkwardly placed and worded with painful thought and careful delivery, he said he was with someone and wanted to stay with them.
I let it swim around in my head, finding a place to settle, the voices saying ‘you knew this already’, though knowing is so very different from knowing.
And then, I had a little cry, even though I could have sworn that I really didn’t have any tears left for this.
I miss you too; I wish you every happiness, all of the happinesses, even that one, the one that I wanted… you can have that one also.