You’re back, and you announce it to me via text or email or Facebook message or skywriting or carrier pigeon. “Hey,” you write. “I’m back.”
Oh. How nice. How nice for you. I…I don’t know how I’m supposed to react.
Did you think that when you left, I froze? That time stood still and I just stayed exactly the same in exactly the place you left me? Did you think I wasn’t upset, wasn’t moved, wasn’t changed by your leaving? Did you think I just went, “Oh, okay. I’ll wait here” and plopped down and twiddled my thumbs and waited for you to return?
I am different than when you took off. I was alone and I was sad and I picked myself up, dusted myself off and kept on. Well, what was I supposed to do? Go to sleep? Hibernate? Go into a coma? Die? Was I supposed to die? And then chill in a coffin in the forest and wait for you to come back and kiss me and wake me up? Am I freakin’ Snow White?
At first, I waited for you. Maybe intentionally. Maybe just because I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I convinced myself that you were coming back. I convinced myself I could hold out, and that if I just remained pristine and perfect, I’d be preserved for when you returned. But then, time went by and I moved on. You have no right to come back and expect me to just drop everything like we were a book you get to just put a bookmark in and return to whenever it’s convenient for you.
There is no bookmark. My story continued without you.
Is this a TV show? Did they just want to stir up my storyline for sweeps or a season finale? You used to be a series regular and then you thought maybe you could do movies or something so the writers wrote you out of the show. Then, a season later, your movie career failed and you asked to be written back in and so the writers shoe-horned a reason for you to just show up at the coffee shop or re-enroll in school and voila! You’re back!
But here’s the rub: you missed a whole season. Maybe I was given a new love interest or maybe I went through some trying “Very Special Episodes” but either way, I am not the same. You can’t just expect me to be the same.
I’m not even mad at you. I’m sorry if it seems like I’m mad. I’m just frustrated by all this. A big part of me wants to run into your arms and never let go. A big part of me wants to resume everything as normal. A big part of me wants to believe you’ll never leave again. Will you ask me to wait for you this time? I want you too, but I’m also scared.
You were like an imprint in a car seat or a divot in the sand. I knew you’d been there, because you left a mark, but then you made a choice and you were gone. It really, really hurt.
You’re back, you tell me. And you want a response, a reaction, something, but I feel too many emotions at once to figure it out. Can I both slap you and kiss you? Confuse you the way you confused me?
I’m sure we’ve both changed. I bet you’re also unsure and tentative. You have so much you want to tell me, so much to share. Where do you even begin? Where should I even begin?
Okay. 1, 2, 3. Let’s both begin at the beginning. Let’s see if you’re back for good.