I am here.
I know it feels like I’m a thousand miles away. I know you’re sitting in that one bedroom apartment, staring at those white walls, wondering who I am and where I’ve gone. I know one moment I was there, laughing, our toes touching bare and cold under the blanket. I know one moment we were snacking on those sugary candies, the ones that make my teeth ache, and laughing about who knows what on that stupid, late-night comedy show.
I know one moment you were counting my sleeping breaths, knowing that I would always be dreaming before you, and wondering how and why it always happened like that.
And now, you’re awake, and I’m gone.
But it’s not like that. Not exactly like that. I didn’t mean for my life to spiral away from yours, I didn’t mean to make you dizzy with the twirl of my hair and my bare feet in the sand.
I never meant to hurt you the way I did.
And I know it feels like I’m a thousand miles away, but I’m still here in this city. Still sharing space, still stealing oxygen, still a beating heart that wishes you well.
And if you call, I’ll be there. I promised you that.
And I keep my promises.
But I wish I could rewind.
Go back to the before. Before us. Before this place. Before I took that job that made things complicated, before I was the reason for the smile on your face. Before I unconsciously took on the responsibility of making you happy—a responsibility too heavy to carry.
I wish I could rewind, take us back to the first time we met. Your eyes low and red-rimmed and tired. I wish I would have known the story you hid behind that sideways smile. I wish I would have known the burdens resting on your shoulders, and that no matter my strength, I could never lift them for you.
This isn’t my fault.
This is time and circumstance, two lives intertwined with everything standing in their way. I didn’t mean for life to unfold like this, for me to want different things, want my own selfishness, want a life without you.
I never meant to hurt you in the process of finding myself.
But I shouldn’t have to apologize for hearing the sound of my own voice for the first time in so long. I shouldn’t have to say sorry for the simple fact that in becoming who I wanted to be, I had to say goodbye to you.
But I’m still sorry.
Because I don’t think I’ll ever learn how to live without looking back, to live without worrying how everyone else’s hearts are doing. I don’t think I’ll ever learn how to live without caring for the people who were too busy putting me on pedestals to see that was never what I wanted, never what I asked for.
I don’t think I’ll ever learn how to care a little less, or walk away a little quicker. I’ll always lean in fully, jump into the waters before testing, hope that things will work out. Even if I realize, somewhere in the middle of my swim, that I won’t make it to the other side.
And I have to swim back before I drown.
But it was real with you.
In case you don’t believe me. In case the sound of my footsteps in the other direction have clouded your mind with uncertainty. I felt something when you held me. I smiled genuinely when you kissed my cheek. I thought about the future, the idea of a world with you in it.
And I wasn’t scared.
But the heart is a funny muscle, you know. And mine is growing stronger every day. I want you to know that this wasn’t about you, but about the beating in my chest, pulling me in a different direction, reminding me that I wasn’t ready, quite yet, to be owned by anyone other than myself.
Maybe one day you’ll understand that hearts don’t intend to break other hearts.
And maybe down the road when you’re happy, and singing to a tune on the radio, holding hands with the new woman you love, you’ll remember me. And know that this was exactly how things were meant to turn out.
And you will forgive me, after all this time.