The care-free air of summer began to cool as it made room for the falling leaves of autumn. I only wish I had known at the time that the seasons weren’t the only thing changing.
When you decided there wasn’t a place for me next to you in the upcoming winter, I prepared myself for the harshness of the months ahead of me. The hopeful promises we whispered in the dark and the flickering moments of young love were gone and in its place a numbness that surfaces when dwelled on for too long. As I stood out in the cold, you left the door ajar, just enough for me to feel the warmth but not enough for me to be satisfied by it.
It’s the most gnawing pain – to not receive closure from the end of a relationship because the end never happened. The hurt isn’t overwhelming, but subtle. Constant. Aching to be felt when the days are less busy and the nights are more quiet.
You continued to speak to me at your convenience, leaving me hanging onto your words and to the hope that we would one day take back the time that ran out on us. Your minimal existence in my life haunted the back of my mind as I searched for you in every text I received and every guy I have been with after you.
At one point I felt lost. Confused. Frozen. I was so consumed by the idea that you kept in touch with me because we were meant for a second chance that I shut out my chances with other people.
I kept looking back in desperate hope to find you following me because you never burned the bridge between us. I was stuck in one place waiting for you to find me, so patient and full of unsaid thoughts that were never appropriate to share because you left at the most convenient time to not have to hear them.
Instead, you hovered around me and fed my needs only when you knew I was trying to move past the empty words and mixed signals you gave me. I made excuses for why you couldn’t seem to find me – blaming everything besides your lack of desire to have all of me. The brisk draft of how emotionally absent you were used to bother me. I wanted to be reminded of your warm smile and the heat of our bodies desperately seeking the other.
I wondered why you were so comfortable with only giving me glimpses of you, because I always assumed that my presence in your life ignited your memory of the days when we were simpler.
But then I realized that even though I was the one left in the cold, you were the one afraid of it.
You couldn’t let me go because you weren’t strong enough to brave the frigidity of being alone. I was your safety blanket, something you grasped for when the crisp air was too intense for you but let go of once the chill passed. While I interpreted our contact as an attempt to re-live our past, your continuous complacency woke me up to the reality that we were simply re-visiting it on your terms. You were my shelter from every bitter storm and my mistake was thinking that shelters last through the destruction.
The irony is that the only destruction we were running from was the aftermath of our inability to let go of the other.
Although your memory continues to linger in my mind, I’ve accepted it as a token of a fleeting time in our lives that we were lucky to have experienced together instead of a sign that we needed another moment. There are times where I want to give in and reach for you, but I’ve outgrown pretending the light breeze I’ll meet in your place is enough for me.
Sometimes I still feel the sting of the cold without you, but now it’s refreshing.
It’s the one thing that reminds me I’m alive.