To My Best Friend, My Almost-Lover

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Almost. We were almost something. It’s a strange title, but I don’t think we’re the only ones who have dealt with this ambiguity. Here’s the thing though- regardless of the almost, you were always my person. Maybe that feeling was never reciprocated, but do you at least understand? You were the person I felt closest too, the one who made me feel less lost at sixteen, you we’re my comfort zone. But you weren’t just that, were you? You also made me feel warm waves crashing through my stomach, you also tugged at my heart from time to time. In the end, I don’t have regrets. I know who we are, or at least who you were. I know it wouldn’t have worked, but there was always enough gray. Then it happened. You left. Whatever we always were, you walked away from it when I least expected it. I know there’s a lot of gray to work with when it comes to us, but suddenly it feels pretty black and white. You’re gone. I miss you. Maybe, in the end this is only for the better. I can’t win you back with a false confession of love, although I wish it was that easy. I can’t fight for you in that way. But I suppose we can’t continue in the same way we always have, because we’re simply not those people anymore. You’re gone. I miss you. But this is my goodbye, because you never bothered with one.

For months, I’ve been searching for a proper goodbye, if only for myself. I want to be graceful about this goodbye, I want to pay tribute to how great we once were. When I reach for poetry, I only come up with handfuls of dirt. I want to draw the way our lives intersected, the way they were sometimes perfectly weaved together, or even the moments when they were tangled in indistinguishable knots. I look for the beauty in it, but it hard to be thankful for us when my heart feels filled with gravel.

I’m angry that you left. More than that, I’m angry you never gave me a reason. You never said goodbye. You took away the person that made me feel loved unconditionally, and replaced him with a new reason for insecurity. I’m angry at myself for thinking this way, for so selfishly obsessing over what you provided me with. I’m angry you made me into someone selfish, and I’m angry for blaming you for my own poisonous nature.

I wonder, still, what the final straw was for you. You came into my life when we were only children. Eight years of friendship that rode waves of rejection and awkward months, and wrong timing. I guess we’re both to blame for that. But we held steadfast through it all, each a lighthouse to the other. Or so I always thought. I was afraid to go to college, that summer night that feels like a lifetime ago. Tears escaped as I drove home, away from you. I hated myself for crying. I hated you for making me sad to leave a place I worked years to escape from. I feel like I’m leaving behind my own limb, I wrote down that night. Why did you hold on for years after I left, only to leave me when I returned?

I know I am not easy to love. I know it’s something you have to learn. I know my rough edges hurt to hold onto at times. I know. Yet, I always thought it was effortless to you, only you. Was I wrong? Did loving me weigh you down? I must have been heavy on your shoulders, I must have left invisible bruises and torn at your skin with my broken fingernails. You let me think otherwise, for so many years. I see the scars clearly now, the ones I put there. I see them now that you’re gone.

I’m angry you found new friends. I’m angry, I’m jealous, that by giving me up, new doors seemed to open for you. I’m angry, I’m saddened, that you’ve found people more similar to you, more adventurous people that seem to understand your soul more than I ever could. All these years, even when we loved each other, did we ever understand each other? Are the sun and moon partners that depend on one another for their very existence, or are there true, fundamental reasons that they can’t exist in the same sky. Does darkness drown the light, or does it give the light meaning? I don’t know anymore, only that you’ve always been the light.

I’m angry that you made me question love. Couldn’t you see that regardless of the how, I always needed you? Didn’t you see that my beliefs in love were already so fragile? Didn’t you see the wall? I thought you saw it- I thought you saw it and climbed over. I thought you never feared it. Were you more afraid of it than I realized, just like all the others?

I hate you for leaving. I hate you for occupying my thoughts, day after day, when there’s nothing to be done about us anyways. My mind has become a time capsule, filled with treasure or bones, I’m still not sure. I replay it all, trying to find where it went wrong, trying to pinpoint the why. Years ago, when it seemed we were close to losing each other again, we went for a walk. I didn’t want to be vulnerable, I didn’t want to be weak. You spoke of memories fondly, and I said I didn’t remember them. Really? you asked. I remember everything, you said. I remember wishing I could take back the little lie that came from some void in my heart I still haven’t fixed. When did you become so strong? Why weren’t you ever afraid of us? I lied through my iron armor. I am sorry for that, because I remember everything too.

Summer rainstorms, the look in your eyes when we took cover. Your backyard, the woods blazing with fireflies. I thought maybe they burned for us. Spinning in circles out in the field, falling to the ground as the sky spun above us, back when intoxication was still innocent. You hiked back up the mountain with me, when I was too afraid to ski the rest of the way down, afraid of falling, of crashing. I always was afraid of the fall. The first time you held my hand, the way my stomach flipped when our finger tips touched. The first time I ran. You belong with me, I belong with you, you’re my sweetheart. When they sung, I wished you were mine, if only for the moment. Riding home from the camp site, it amazed me how things can feel so right when everything is going so wrong.

I miss you, but I am not naïve anymore. I know you aren’t there to return to. I know the person I speak to has moved on and traded hearts. But because I am only talented in hiding my heart, but not controlling it, I miss him anyways. I miss the way he told stories, the way he became animated and his eyes lit up. The way he turned life into a stage. I know it wasn’t always easy to be everyone else’s light, especially mine. I hope you know that I loved your shadows too. I am not one to be afraid of the dark.

Some day the anger, the hate, the jealousy will fade. Eventually, time will dissolve what’s left of us, leaving you a bittersweet aftertaste that rises from time to time, only to be quickly swept back into an unmarked grave in my heart. You’ll be a memory with a dull ache. Somehow, the earth will continue to spin and my life will go on, as yours has, disregarding the fact that our hearts somehow fell out of sync.

Today is where it begins. This morning, I realized I don’t love you anymore. At 3:05am, I finally fell apart. It was a long process, learning to let you go, but I think I’m here. I am finally past the pit in my chest, past the analysis of what went wrong, past the pleading, past the hope, past waiting for the tears to come that will finally match the twisting in my gut that accompanies thoughts of you. The tears came and I am finally sobbing. I am weeping. I am finally breaking and crumbling, and it feels beautiful. It feels like what the word release was created for. TC mark

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