After the first go-around of our anti-romance, I wrote about him. I wrote about him the way people in love write about the person they love. I say "anti-romance" because although we never quite made it to "together," it never fully broke apart, either. It was the classic tale: Girl falls in love, boy doesn't. But it had a twist, and amongst the musings of heartlessness and hopelessness and the all-encompassing "complicated," was a person who cared about another person very much. So I wrote about him. But the second time, the second chance, the third-act twist... It was the same. This time, I decided not to write about him. I wrote about me, and my reaction, in categories. But I know it's not about me. It's about every other girl who has waited by a phone, hoped for the best, and braced for the worst. This is the story that belongs to everyone, divided into what I learned, why this time is different, and what I hope.
WHAT I'D SAY:
It hurts in a way that makes me wordless. You hurt me to the point of empty. It broke my world. I would have done anything for you. It sounds simple, but it isn't.
WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT ME:
I spent a long time desperately concerned I was crazy, but not wanting to seek help or explain or ask the God-awful question because I was terrified the answer might be: "Yes, you are." I am crazy. And it is fine.
WHY THIS TIME IS DIFFERENT:
You texted me months prior and this is what I thought: Something was different about it this last time. It wasn't like us... or didn't feel like it to me. I haven't seen you in years and hadn't talked to you in what felt like years, but it still always felt like us: Too profound for our own good, so introspective we almost got lost inside it, never quite together but never actually apart. And there was this beautiful angst that always sat there, but I think somewhere down the line it lost its glow. The romanticism drained out of feeling like I'd been stabbed when I see your arms wrapped around another "her"; the anguish wasn't pretty, it was just so broken; the breathlessness that thumped in my chest when I saw your name on my phone was replaced with a sort of sob. But not crying. You can't cry over something that isn't yours.
BECAUSE WHY, AND WHY I WON'T ASK WHY:
Because the memories aren't enough to hold the past up. Because you have to go forward since you can't step back. Because the conversation can only be aimless for so long before someone begins to crave a destination, that, inevitably, the other person doesn't want. If you wanted me, you would have had me. If you knew me, I don't know that you'd want me.
WHAT IT'S LIKE:
It's like exchanging something you thought was a definite for something that isn't even a maybe. It's letting go because there is simply nothing left. It's knowing that the girl in the pictures will never be me. It's wondering why I ever cared that it was. It's not knowing how to pick up the pieces this time.
ABOUT THOSE PIECES:
So you don't pick them up. You get new ones. And you build them. I'll wonder if you're watching me. I'll wonder if you regret anything at all. I'm giving you back the broken pieces. I don't think I'll ever be able to put them back together. And that's not the point. You can't piece shreds back together and expect it to look the same as before. So maybe my broken pieces will fill your obviously empty ones.
Maybe we can forgo the niceties. Maybe the clock will tick again. Maybe we'll step forward, and finally let go. Maybe we don't get a choice. And maybe that's exactly how it is supposed to be.
I HOPE, FOR YOU:
I hope you find everything you ever wanted... I hope I run into you in the streets of Manhattan one day, and I hope you're with a sweet girl with pretty hair who feels like you opened up her world when you walked her through Times Square. I hope she's kind and normal and docile, and I hope she follows around in your wake and sees your greatness. I hope you're always greater than her. I hope she fulfills every mold I didn't fit. I hope her eye-liner doesn't wrap all the way around her eyes, but I hope she'll be willing -- whatever you ask of her. I hope you don't leave her.
I HOPE, FOR ME:
And for me? I hope I'll open up the world for myself. I hope I'll be in New York, catching a flight to London. I hope I never "figure it" all the way out, because where's the fun in that? But I hope someone's life is brighter because I am in it. And I hope they don't let me go.
I hope I learn to hope again.