I had forgotten about your sweatshirt’s existence. I was looking for an extra set of sheets – inside a polka-dot canvas box, high on a corner shelf inside my closet. I don’t venture there often. My high school water polo parka lives there. The one that is conveniently Packers Green and Gold. I wore it to our first Packer game, and you ridiculed me for wearing “tampons” on my feet (I found out the hard way that Uggs are not waterproof…)
My suitcase lives back there. The new Michael Kors suitcase I bought for my first business trip to Europe. The last time I had been to Germany was with you. I was hundreds of miles away from that city, and yet I still found myself walking through Munich, reliving inside jokes. Like the fact that you can’t go to a karaoke bar in Germany without hearing Oasis Wonderwall.
I texted you about it. I didn’t know you were already seeing someone else.
It’s alarming to me how raw the wound is. The way my chest physically collapses, like it is under the weight of fourteen bricks. I can go weeks – even months – without thinking of you. And then while rummaging through a closet for spare sheets, I find your sweatshirt. And suddenly I am running to the window for air, grasping at my heart. As if my hand could be the barrier that stops my heart from leaping out of my chest to run to you.
My heart still longs to run to you.
I don’t miss you in the ways I used to. I don’t cry when I look at old photos of us. I’ve begun to throw out old cards from anniversaries, as if 7 months was something to celebrate. I am glad we took the time to celebrate insignificant events like 7 months. Because I never thought our relationship had an expiration date. So when that day came, I could truthfully say I had loved every moment with you to the fullest. Every day was a celebration. Every Saturday was a holiday. And every Sunday morning that you awoke and kissed my shoulder was a moment that will feel like an eternity in my heart’s memory.
We have ruined each other. We have used each other, said hateful & spiteful things. We have taken stabs, and said things with one intention – to hurt the other. As if it justified the way we had been hurt. We’ve forgotten how to talk, how to be lovers, how to be friends. There is nothing there between us. And we’ve filled the empty time and space with new relationships, triumphs at work, trips around the world, and drunken nights at local bars.
I don’t actively miss you. I don’t go about my days wishing we were still together. Because truthfully – I have to commend myself for the person I have become since you let me go. The things I’ve done, the ways I have grown. I have become a better person. But if you loved me even then… imagine how much you could love me now.
I want to believe that everyone gets better with time. And even though I thought 28 years was plenty for you, it became painfully obvious that was not the case at the end. So maybe you needed more time to grow. To love. To learn. Maybe we both did.
There was a time in our lives when we were great together. Everyone said it, everyone knew it, and we knew it too. It’s quoted by you in the cards I have thrown away. So maybe there is a chance that we can be even better together – now that we have become better versions of ourselves. Maybe we needed this time a part. Maybe our expiration date can just be a pause button.
But for now, I am bringing your sweatshirt to Goodwill. May someone else wrap themselves in it on early Sunday mornings to deliver bagel sandwiches to their loved one, still asleep in bed.
I was good to you. I loved you. Deeply, truly, madly.
But I am even better than I was then. And my heart longs for you to see that. My heart longs to give you all my love again. But if I never get the chance, then I will find someone else to give my love to. A love that knows no bounds and no borders. No regret, no remorse. A love that will light someone up and inspire them to be the best version of themselves. And they will never let me go.