After the serendipitous meeting with Mr. Fire a few weeks before I graduated, where he confirmed my existence actually did mean something to him, he told me he’d let me know when he was in New York. He knew I’d be there and if he could help it, so would he.
Several years later, it looks like he finally made the move. Or at least for a job interview, that is.
Though it has been quite some time since I’ve laid eyes on the dude and I’m not interested in sprouting any new chapters with him – as I headed toward sushi for two on Wednesday, my mind couldn’t help but race.
After all, this was an evening, a moment, an opportunity I had dreamt of since the day he ended things far quicker than I thought he would. Following the late-Spring breakup in our college’s commons, I collapsed into my bed, equal parts shocked and desperately sad. A few hours later, with my puffy face and tired eyes and spirit, my roommate tried to console me, and though I’m pretty sure we both knew there was no magic phrase or surprising sentence that could alleviate my tears, something she said inspired me to move forward with a little hope: “It doesn’t seem like you guys finished anything. There are all these questions – he’s gotta have them too. I promise you, years from now, you’ll get the answers and you’ll see him again. By then, you’ll probably be happy and won’t care.”
I disagreed in that moment – how could I ever care less than I did then? How would this feeling ever leave or lessen? But maybe, if we were meant to cross paths again – say on Park Avenue South – it’d all make sense. Perhaps he felt just as broken as I did.
Come to find out, we both coined each other as the “one who got away” or the guy/gal who we’ll always wonder what could have been or what we should have experienced, but were too young to take a shot at. Since the split, we’ve never managed to be single at the same time. There’s always been someone else in the mix, another component to complicate any prospect of attempting to finish what we started or give another round to cards we laid many years ago. And up until that night, a part of me, even if it was just the tiniest sliver of silver-lining I had– I thought maybe, we’d end up together. That while I can’t be convinced I believe in fate in its indefinite definition, I do have faith in time.
And my love, my darling, time can do a gal many wonderful splendors in terms of love.
Walking to meet Mr. Fire, heels and lace-mini prepared to stun – I thought how my roommate was right. Here I was, living in the place I knew I’d end up, strutting toward my past, and other than a few butterflies, I was calm. And while I think there will always be questions left unanswered, love left unfinished, and ends left untied – it didn’t matter too much.
Because time, in its unpredictable ways, took me from lusting after this idealistic notion that Mr. Fire and I were destined, to realizing I didn’t want him anymore. In the seasons that had cycled, the tides that turned, and the feet that landed me in this city – I had changed.
And he hadn’t.
Sitting across from him, listening to him ramble and flush a sweet color of pink – I remembered the facial expressions I had adored, the gestures, and the stories I had fallen for. I still found him incredibly attractive – but had he always had that deep Southern accent that I was lucky enough to escape (Thanks Dad, from New Jersey)? I still found myself laughing at his comics, but that intelligent, witty conversation that I value in a man – does he have that? And yes, he was tall, but that stagger, that thirst to drink more than necessary – will he ever outgrow those silly habits?
Perhaps time can divide lovers for years and then bring them back together in some sort of romantic-comedy approved manner – but it also can make you see how wrong someone is for you. How while you loved them – or at least the idea of what they could be – when people grow, either together or separated, they end up in different versions of destiny than what they originally hoped. And perhaps, that ending is better than the happy one we once planned for ourselves.
Even if he was – or maybe always will be – the one who slipped through my fingers and pushed away the love I was willing to give him. Maybe the ones who do leave before we expect them too, were always meant to walk before closure could be granted, before reasoning and discussions could be completed. In some sort of twisted hand of Father Time, they are the ones who make us realize down the road, that what we think will happen, what we hope will come to be, who the people we can’t imagine living without – aren’t always what’s best for us. Or at least the us we become in this continuous progression we call life.
Sometimes, time makes you see that you love the you you’ve become more than the man who was. Or the we that was supposed to be. That while minutes or hours or days or even years may pass by so slowly -all that was, all that is, and all that will be, will work itself out, somehow, someday, along the way.