Not everyone has the luxury of their exes going to Singapore and France for a year.
But I do.
It had been many months of silence between Mr. Possibility and I, when last Sunday I received an email at 9 a.m. I wasn’t yet awake when I read it for the first time, and it was only when I dreamt about Mr. P until noon, that I realized it was real, not something my hungover-self imagined.
The email was short and sweet, saying everything I’ve needed to hear since we broke up. It’s true that people can surprise you, and for the first time, maybe ever, Mr. P did just that. Before getting up to greet the day, I probably read those five paragraphs a dozen times — savoring the sincerity and feeling so happy that while it absolutley touched my heart…
… it didn’t break it. Instead of those old, familiar feelings of longing, I felt something else: closure.
It’s an odd word and odd thing to request of someone you used to be with, but it’s something we all wished we could have more of. Some of my friends don’t believe it’s important to make amends, others are convinced no story ever has an official end, that as long as we’re open to something — or rather, someone — then anything can come to be.
I think more along the lines of: tie-a-pretty-bow around everything and make sure everyone is happy with the outcome and has warm, loving feelings and memories from the time we spent together. I’m obviously the least realistic in my views about breakups, hence why most of them don’t stick for the first few months and why I usually end up disappointed — again and again — by someone who I broke up with for… well, continually disappointing me.
While I’ve dated other people and forgiven Mr. P — I never felt like he gave me the things, the words I needed to completely move on. It’s not his responsibility, I realize, it’s totally mine– but yet, I hoped one day, he’d come around and see things differently.
And just like that, with his passport ready to go, he did.
I spent a good portion of the day mulling over the email, trying to figure out if I should respond, opening myself up to a possible downward spiral of bad decisions or if I should just take the letter for what it’s worth and cherish it. I didn’t want to get back into a mess I worked so (incredibly!) hard to get myself out of. But on the other hand– I knew I’d regret it if something happened to him on his overseas educational excursion and I never thanked him or told him goodbye.
And so, standing on one foot, baking cupcakes and trying to get my senses about me, I called a number I wish I didn’t have memorized.
He left on Saturday and he won’t be back until next summer. With him goes a piece of my heart, just like pieces are still in North Carolina from past loves. I said a prayer to keep him safe while finds the person he’s been trying to find for nearly 32 years… and then I felt a tremendous weight lift off of me. I felt freedom.
The city is mine again. There are no opportunities to run into him, perhaps with a new girl he’s seeing, at some place we both happen to like. There is no late night drunken temptations to fight when loneliness wins over logic. There is no way to go backwards when the past is so far away, you can’t hop on the subway to see it. There is no need to wonder if it’s the end when the only thing ahead is tomorrow. There is no questioning what could have been or should have been or will be, when I can actually see our lives going in different directions. Him to faraway schools and places, me to the job I love and city that loves me.
Because I’m overly romantic for my own good, I went to Bryant Park — a place that holds so many memories between Mr. P and I. It’s the place we had out first date — which was meant to be a quick
coffee and turned into a six-hour conversation followed by Chinese food. It’s where he took me, six months after that day, when it was absolutely freezing and I only stopped complaining about wanting to go inside when he spun me around, dipped and kissed me and said: “It’s been six months today.” It’s the place we went ice skating and drank hot chocolate together, the place he laid his head in my lap in the grass while we both read our news source of choice and kissed me in between pages. It’s the place I always thought he’d propose, if our relationship ever grew to that, if he could ever open his heart wide enough to let me in.
For a long time, even nearly a year after we have been broken up, Bryant Park was a difficult place for me to go. It reminded me of the love that went wrong, the foolish mistake I made of hanging on for far too long. It reminded me of everything I loved and hated about Mr P, and how I was convinced our memories in this park meant far more to me than they ever did to him.
And those same feelings came rushing back when I set foot yesterday. But instead of being bittersweet, painful memories– they were happy ones. Loving ones. They were memories I shared with a man who made a big impact on my life, who showed me that I really can love unconditionally. They remind me of the smile I used to love to watch, and the intimate moments and conversations we shared in this NYC landmark. They reminded me of the very first love I found in this city, and made me excited about the next. They reminded me that I meant something to someone, something more than he ever let me know until recently. They reminded me that while only one love truly last forever, the ones before still have significance.
They reminded me of the man who is now far away, much like he always was in some way, that while he couldn’t be how he wanted or how I needed, he did love the best he could. He says he doesn’t read this blog anymore — he wanted to give me privacy to sort through my emotions how I do best — but if he happens to stumble across this one, I hope he knows I wish for him the same thing I’ve always wished for him: happiness. Because after a long time, after lots of wondering and pain, he’s finally help me find my happy after him.