With unsure eyes and careful hands, I studied the face that beamed at me from across the hardwood table. Bathed in the dim lights of a pompous cafe, this stranger was the last person I envisioned spending my night with. The concept of a post-break up post-mortem was completely foreign to me. Bolting from goodbyes without glancing in the rear view mirror was all I had ever known. Every broken relationship remained tucked away, untouched and abandoned like pieces of furniture in Ikea’s As-Is section. This tried and true method ensured that if a re-visit ever occurred, I’d recognize them as damaged goods no matter how much they gleamed under tactful spotlights – and happily exit empty handed every time.
Why did I agree to this? This wasn’t me and it was dangerous, uncharted emotional territory. Still, I stayed perched in my seat, armor and all, determined to understand what it was I was searching for. As the hours melted into each other, old jokes and warm recollections stripped me of defenses and weapons. The hardwood table between us went from being an unreliable shield to entirely too big, and in the way. The air became thick with tension, and my veins surged with pulses of electricity. With every word spoken, I relished in forgotten comforts. In a distant reality not too far away, home was the corner of his childhood bed. Home was out on that balcony overlooking the lake, wrapped in clouds of cigarette smoke and each others arms. Lullabies were his voice drenched in gravel from mornings spent sleeping in, and his voice echoed by strums of a guitar.
After all these years, our chemistry remained undeniable. I found myself wondering why I ever moved out.
At the end of the night, we shared a clumsy kiss in the dark. He tasted of galaxies I’d never been to and the lips of all the people that came after the last time ours met. Only then did I understand what it was I was searching for. This was a man who still danced regularly, across my pages and into my dreams. Tonight was a quest for familiarity, to understand why I left our relationship un-boxed and scattered across the living room floor. Cutting ties all those years ago plagued me with questions I eventually stopped wanting the answers to, and led to him being memorialized as my favorite “what if.” This meeting abolished any trace of want or wonder I had left.
I turned my back on him that night knowing my future laid in the opposite direction. This was a detour I needed to take in order to stop doubting that I was on the correct path. Home may have been him once upon a time, but it was now something I had built, and found in myself. Every goodbye made sense the second this one did. I realized too, how wrong I was wrong about closure. If you’re anything like how I used to be, know that it’s not something only the weak need, or something to be terrified of. Saying hello again just to say goodbye may just end up feeling like dusting weights off of your shoulder.