Our affair was brief, tangential. We were both looking for something neither one of us could find in another person. I wanted to feel loved again. He was reaching for something to numb his pain. We both sought solace in each other. Our relationship served as an escape from the overwhelming chaos of our everyday lives. It felt nice to be around someone new, someone who didn’t care where we had been. And yet, despite our unwillingness to recognize it, the baggage of our pasts, the agonies that had defined us as individuals, was the ever-present force keeping us from ever truly becoming something more than a fling, a momentary pause from reality.
In many ways, we were very much alike, but it was our similarities that would eventually drive us apart. Both of us were far too ambitious to ever stand still long enough or to settle, in case the next big thing—in whatever form that it would come, relational, occupational, or otherwise—was waiting just around the corner. Perhaps it was our separate yet equally powerful drives that had brought us so much heartache in our past relationships. We were unwilling, unable to get close to people for fear that they would become anchors holding us back when every fiber of our being was telling us to swim on, to swim harder, faster. Our inability to really open up was the unseen but never forgotten chasm that we were never comfortable enough with each other to safely fall into.
Being with someone who was nearly one in the same does also allow for many moments of enlightenment. I understood the anxieties and the desire for more. I understood what it felt like to have to play the role of someone else when being yourself seems too frightening. Moreover, these similarities gave way to many moments of happiness. It’s nice when someone can tell what you’re thinking without having to say it, when someone can appreciate what you’re trying to say even when the words come out quite right, when someone is able to laugh at your jokes before you get to the punch line.
Through these similarities came the feeling that I wanted more. It’s not that I didn’t want to stop running. It’s that I now wanted to run in the same direction. I wanted to be more than one of many, and more than anything, I didn’t want to feel alone. The words he said matched the feelings I felt, but sadly, bliss was not meant for us. Call it timing. Call it circumstance. Call it not meant to be. Call it the fear of having to give a name to something that for so long was just for fun, just a way to get away.
Under any name, at it’s core, it’s still the same thing: two people who came together only for a brief moment in time. But time hurtles forward, and we kept running. Unfortunately, before we made our separate exits, I left behind more than just the memory of our momentary happiness. In a morning fog of forgetfulness, I left behind items I would later come to desperately want back. Upon first realizing my error, I felt unconcerned. I never realized it would be the last time I would ever set foot inside his house.
Slowly but surely, my life has returned to the way it was before he came into the picture. It’s amazing how a near stranger can shake you to your core. But I am okay. The loss of my things and the loss of this person no longer feels so monumental. I have friends who laugh at my jokes and who try to understand the dark place he occupied so nicely. I am learning to find the love within myself that isn’t always there but always needs to be. And above all else, I wish the same for him.
It is for this reason, that, no, I don’t want my stuff back anymore. He can keep it. And no, I especially don’t want him to bring it back late at night, or at any time for that matter. The process of having him returning it seems far too painful. No, I don’t want old feelings to resurface when it seems neither of us is capable of handling them in each person right now. I’m set on my path, and he will go his own way. I’m afraid we don’t have enough hands right now to carry our baggage down another dangerous road.
And so, I will lace up and run on, harder, faster, lighter now without the weight of a necklace, some earrings, and a love that was never meant to be.