How are you supposed to miss someone who was never yours to begin with?
No matter how difficult it is, no matter how many sleepless nights, no matter how many mistakes you made, no matter how many regrets you have, no matter how you try to fill the void of them leaving, you can’t seem to come up with a good enough reason to explain your unexplainable emotions.
Maybe you let your moral compass spin out of control for this person. Maybe the timing was fatefully off. Maybe life separated you before you had time to comprehend it all. Maybe this person came into your life, seemingly a perfect fit, but they were already taken. Maybe you let go of all inhibition and common sense, only to burn yourself with the consequences. How do you justify missing this person who was never yours?
For me, it was all of them.
You came back into my life unexpectedly. I never knew you well before, just as the guy who showed up on Friday nights out as an acquaintance from time to time. But on a cold January night, I was sitting at a dimly lit table, drink in my hand at the bar, trying to pass the time getting over a past love. You walked in an hour late, joining our mutual friends, and for a moment I thought we caught each other’s eyes. I brushed it off as a passing glance, but we got to talking, and the rest of our friendship was history.
You have a girlfriend. You talked about her with excitement, and it was clear how much she meant to you. You told me about your life, the country and family you left behind to be here, your dreams and aspirations, and your fears too. I remember thinking how intriguing yet mysterious you were. You were someone I could get along with, someone somehow I was so inexplicably comfortable with from the very beginning. All those walls I had put up from being hurt and betrayed by so many people—the walls I swore I would keep up to protect myself—came down.
Conversations with you had depth—it felt just like we had known each other for years. There was nothing I had to fake around you, no part I had to hold back for fear of being judged, no alternative identity I had to put on to be with you like I did with so many others. There was nothing too stupid I could say, no joke too corny, nothing forced. We went to places I’d never been before, tried food I’d previously been too scared to try. New experiences, new adventures, new perspectives, new memories. Time with you wasn’t draining; instead, it made my days brighter and my soul happier.
But there eventually came the moment when it dawned on me, and it was a harsh realization. Day and night, even during the moments I was sitting next to you in comfortable silence, I questioned myself over and over why I wanted to be around you all the time, why you were the one I wanted to know more about, why you were the one I could trust. No amount of denial or self-loathing could change the way I thought about you. I didn’t want to be that girl who had feelings for the guy with a girlfriend. I didn’t want to take my own feelings seriously. I refused to—so I kept lying to myself.
Tell me how wrong I am, but I felt like there was something there with you. Was there something there for you too?
When things between us went horribly wrong and we went our separate ways, only then was I finally honest with myself about my emotions. Despite the shame and sadness I felt, there was no way to deny or push away the truth. No amount of wishful thinking could bring you back. No matter how much I wanted to change the past, only one regret remained. If I could go back and tell you one thing—and be honest to myself and to you like how you always encouraged me to be—I wish I had told you how I truly felt, even if it meant losing you. Now I have to hold my peace.
What hurts the most are the bittersweet memories we’d created in a world where circumstances were perfect. What I miss most is your undeniably bold, energetic presence in my life, especially the way you fearlessly trusted me with your deepest fears, and I too could open up to you in the most vulnerable ways.
It was the uncontained laughter. Us singing every word and knowing every dance move to our favorite Taylor Swift song in the middle of the bar, even though people were staring back. All the conversations, good and bad, we had while sitting on the hood of my car. All the inside jokes and the way we could read each other without speaking. All the times we could contemplate life and walk in silence, and all the times you showed me how to skip rocks on the water.
It was all the weird things I found stupid at the time—playing games to see who could type faster, seeing who could drink more espresso shots without getting jittery, seeing who could eat more hamburgers from McDonalds in the back of the bus, and seeing who could pull off Rihanna’s Fenty lip gloss better.
It was the mundane, unspoken things we did for each other—bringing Yerba Mate on early mornings without asking, washing dishes, you dropping everything to be there when I needed it, me buying takeout when you were too exhausted from work to cook.
I’ll never know how you truly felt. I’ll never know if you felt the same sparks I did. I’ll never know if you kept denying yourself the way I did in order to save your relationship. What I do know is, although the personalities, interests, and humor were all there, although you and I were almost perfect, the timing wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t enough for the circumstances to change. It was enough for us to face the truth that we couldn’t be in each other’s lives anymore.
It’s a hard pill to swallow, knowing that maybe you were only meant to be in my life for that period of time to show me what being genuinely comfortable with someone means. Maybe it was to show me what it feels like to jump headfirst without the fear of being hurt. But in hindsight, maybe it was to show me I deserved more than wishful thinking, more than false hope, more than being led on. Maybe it was to teach me the inevitable lesson that we sometimes want what we just can’t have, no matter how hard we try to make it happen.
All I know is that the time we had didn’t feel like it was enough. All I know is that you’re someone I genuinely valued and cared about. All I know is that you came into my life at a dark time, bringing it light and new meaning, and you left at a dark time.
All I know is that you’re now a stranger I have to pretend I don’t know everything about. All I know is that no amount of reminiscing and replaying scenarios in my head can change the past, or change your mind.
All I know is that I miss someone who was never mine.
There’s no way to keep what was meant to be let go—and that’s you.