You knew exactly who I was talking about as soon as I said it. Your brain might have resisted a little, but sure enough his face forced its way to the forefront.
You really don’t know why you still remember him so well. You can’t remember the last time you laid eyes on him. The last time you saw him in person, taking in all of the details face to face rather than a digital version on a computer screen. To be honest, you just wish you could forget him altogether because he’s not here anymore.
He’s the one who didn’t stay. The one who never stays, actually.
When you first met him, you didn’t know what you were getting yourself into. He was spontaneous and unpredictable, and he captured your attention almost immediately. He wasn’t perfect, by any means. Sometimes he wouldn’t text you back for days, even weeks. Sometimes his attention seemed to be somewhere else when his body was beside yours. You never knew when you would see him next, but it didn’t matter because you were anxious and excited every time you thought about the opportunity. He was intoxicating and although you didn’t need him, you couldn’t get enough of him either.
And then one day, he just seemed to vanish. A few days passed, and then a few weeks. You didn’t know what happened exactly, though you had that sinking feeling in your stomach that you didn’t want to believe; He was done.
So you stopped waiting for your phone to light up with a text bearing his name and you fought the urge to contact him saying “What happened here?” You only allowed your mind to wonder towards his memory every now and again, but then quickly shut it down because you didn’t want to remember. You started focusing on the things that were happening in your life: the good things, the new things, the better things.
And then just as you’re almost about to forget him, forget it all, his name shows up again. He liked a status, he sent a message, he left a comment. A metaphorical foot in the door of your mind that says “I’m still here, don’t forget.”
You feel that familiar head spin feeling hitting you all over again. He’s asking how’ve you been and how is life, and reminding you of old times that make you smile when you think back. Memories painted in shades of rose that take you back to a happier time, when your smiles were bigger and your laughs were louder than you remember, and you aren’t sure if the reason you remember them that way is because it’s been so long since they’ve happened.
And while you’re lost in your daydream, in your thoughts of days past, he’s managed to vanish once again.
You don’t know where he’s gone, and you don’t want to keep reaching out, because you know you’ll only be grasping the breeze that he left behind when he took off. Instead of leaving answers he just left more questions: “Why does he even bother reaching out?” and “Why does he always end up leaving?” will plague your mind. The cycle will start all over again: you’ll miss him, then try to forget him, then move on with your life. But just like clockwork, he’ll pop in again.
The first time he left, you blamed you. You wondered why you weren’t intriguing enough to capture his interest in the same way he captured yours. After he’s left a few times, you blame him. You’re angry and you’re hurt, and you want to burn all your bridges with him. And for awhile that seems like the right thing to do, the thing that makes sense. But eventually, once you think about it, you realize the truth:
It’s not really anyone’s fault. Because he was never meant to stay.
Darling, do you remember why you even liked him in the first place? He’s spontaneous and unpredictable and constantly seeking adventure. Everything about him shows he has wings, not roots. What parts of him did you see that made it seem like he would stay? I know that you weren’t thinking that in the moment. What you couldn’t see was that he has always been running, been moving, been relocating long before he met you. He doesn’t sit still; He doesn’t call simply one place home. He was running long before you knew him, and even though he slowed down and paused for a moment when he met you, he always had one foot out the door. You didn’t notice because you were too busy watching that sparkle in his eyes rather than his restless feet.
As much as you wish you could hate him for it, you can’t. He never made you any promises. If he had promised forever and then ran, or promised to stay and then took off, then you might have more reason to. Yet all the signs were right there, you just couldn’t see them.
Yet darling, you also need to know that it’s not your fault, either. Don’t blame yourself. He was never going to stay, and that has nothing to do with you. Don’t waste your thoughts agonizing over him, because it’s not going to bring him back. Instead of looking for him, look at you. You’re not standing still either, you know. You’re forging your own paths, going on your own adventures, and you are meeting people who actually do stay. You won’t take them for granted because you realize not everyone does. You need to stop wondering about the “what could have been” and instead look at the things happening in front of you right now. You might miss some of the best adventures of your life because you’re still hung up in your past adventures with him.
So let him simply be just that: a past reminder of a different time in your life. You can still remember the good times and not taint them with wondering why he’s gone. If he reappears in your life, don’t store your hopes in thinking that this time he will finally cave and choose to stick around.
Because if he isn’t going to put down roots here, with you, then why should you let him take root in your mind and in your heart? He was never meant to stay, so stop trying to build a home for him that is only going to be left empty.
It’s about time you finally set him free.