In college, I was heavily involved in the spoken word scene on campus. I was a total artistic cliche and brought a notebook everywhere I went, was a staff member that helped run a weekly open mic, and competed on a slam team (can you guess I was not athletic in high school? #teampoetry). I’m no stranger to being in rooms with people oozing emotions. I have heard more love poems, more heart-broken poems, more “BETTER WITHOUT YOU” poems than you can even imagine. But you want to know the ones that were absolutely drenched in the most pain? The ones about almost lovers. The relationships that ended before they even truly began. Those are the suckers that punch you right in the gut.
I’ve been in love with my imagination for a very long time now. It’s the first thing you really learn to explore in life, even before the real world. Daydreams are the best friend of many kids, and to be honest, if it’s something I was supposed to outgrow, I never did. We can build up so much by just thinking. Isn’t that incredible? We just think and our bodies react. You think about the way his lips would feel on your neck and your heart rate increases. You envision her smile and you feel goosebumps spring forth along your arms. You think and then feel. I still can’t quite get over that.
When you fall for someone, the thinking and feeling get so intertwined. If you were to look at something in a completely rational way, you’d understand nothing is a promise. You are not guaranteed anything in life. Words can be rendered meaningless, so to hold them as high as we do is maybe our own undoing. But that will not lessen what you feel. Developing romantic feelings for someone means you will begin to daydream. You will imagine a future, even if that future is only the next day. You just can’t help it. This is part of being human. Do not beat yourself up for this.
The almost lover is like getting the rug pulled from beneath you. You haven’t even found proper footing yet. You are still daydreaming, remember? You are thinking about that tomorrow, the breakfast or trailer for a movie you think the two of you would enjoy. There are so many tomorrows you haven’t had yet. It’s an end to something you haven’t even had a real chance to start. This is the hardest thing to let go of: the thing you never really had.
Break ups are difficult beasts, no matter the circumstances. Even in the most healthy, mutual parting of ways, it’s going to suck. You say goodbye to a part of your life, to a person, to a whole chapter. But what do you do when you haven’t even been given the opportunity to write that chapter? You fixate. You focus. You dive so deep into day dreams and imaginary worlds, thinking about all that could have been. You have to move forward with so many unanswered questions, and this is one of the most difficult things to do.
But you can, and you will. The almost lover teaches you something very valuable. You learn how to continue without always gaining closure. We aren’t always granted something clean and easy to understand. Shit happens. It’s not fancy or grand. It’s just a fact. And when something disappoints you, it stings. It hurts and let yourself be hurt. Feel what you need to feel. But at a certain point, you’ll stand back up. You’ll brush off the dirt and the bruises will start to heal. You keep going. And then one day, the almost lover isn’t just an almost.