“This too shall pass.” I braced myself as you embraced me for the final time before heading into the departure gates. The same familiar scene was being re-enacted just a mere six months ago, except that right now, you are the one leaving. Except that this time, there won’t be any more goodbyes.
I am letting you go.
Our ephemeral romance wasn’t a mistake, it’s the embodiment of youth. Too young, too wild, too dumb, too untimely. We co-exist in a relationship parallel to poker, where risk taking and uncertainties are the elements of the gamble. Winning big than losing small took precedence, and we might as well reveal all our cards. It’s hard to stop when you are on a winning streak, but it’s harder to walk away when you are on a losing one. We gave it our best shot but this time, we lost.
My tongue interlocks into knots of nothingness every time I attempt to verbalize my appreciation, but here’s what I wanted to say.
You were a best friend before a lover. You were there at my lowest, when I was wrecked, exhausted and jaded of the world. Despite the parallel time zones, you continue to make an effort to be in contact, listening to my travel tales and daily musings, even if it cuts into your expense to do so. You gave me the first leap of courage to get started on solo travels again, where I have met the most incredible human beings and had the greatest adventure of my lifetime. Thank you for your infectious sense of ‘Fuck it’ confidence when I feel intimidated by situations and the many “what ifs” I constantly contemplate on. Thank you for being happy for me when things are falling in place, and telling me repeatedly that you are proud of my achievements. Most of all, thank you for your unfiltered honesty, your hesitations, your past and insecurities. You have no idea how much I appreciate such rawness in its purest form.
You were still there holding on when I decided mid-way that I was tired of holding on to a maybe.
Thank you for tolerating my lack of presence due to my secondary commitments and impatience for the world. Your massive hugs and cuddles are my temporary solace when I am angry or stressed. Thank you for calling me out for the things that I did wrong, for the times that I was being unappreciative of your efforts. Thank you for pushing me to express myself even when I find it hard to articulate my thoughts effectively.
The paradox in life is that I find intimacy in distance and isolation in proximity. Space is symbolic. Come too close, I’ll push you away, move too far, you’ll be a distant memory. Turns out, we might be perfect strangers after all. They often say that absence makes the heart grows fonder, but it also creates a window of disparity in personal growth. I slowly realized that my presence can’t compensate for that gap. When I came back home, I saw the present with a clearer and more mature lenses, but you were stuck in a limbo, still co-dependent on the people around you to provide your wants and needs. You became the person I swore that I would never date. Even so, I stuck it out, acknowledging the fact that I was privileged to go through more than you did. I resigned to the situation, coming to the conclusion that it didn’t really matter anymore since you were going to leave soon.
I think the notion of “this too shall pass” is an accurate yet overused catchphrase. We often hold on to relationships, knowing well that the expiration date is nearing and it was convenient and justifiable to let go; we hold on so that we won’t be the antagonist in our ephemeral romance. Sometimes, I wonder if we are numb to the perception of impermanence. Is there an expiration date for feelings? How can we feel so much one day then decide we don’t feel anything the next day?
…And perhaps under the weight of unspoken understanding, we are conditioned to accept the idea of expiration dates in relationships, even when we find those rare keepers that are right in front of our eyes, we are uncertain on how to stay.