An Open Letter To The Boy I Can’t Have

image - Flickr / Caro
image – Flickr / Caro

Being with you is getting harder everyday because although I’m with you, I’m not with you.

And the more time I spend with you, the more I want you to be mine. I’ve reached a stage where I want more…..I want more than lunches and train journeys, I want days out and dinners, nights over and mornings together. I want cuddles and caresses, to hold and to be held. I want to know what your lips would feel like on mine – that first instance they meet, and every time thereafter. I want to walk down the street or along the river with your hand in mine.

Being alone with you doesn’t feel weird at all. A little wrong maybe, but at the same time, so right. Not any of that awkwardness or hesitancy you’d expect with unfamiliarity. Instead, being with you feels more like slipping into an old familiar shoe, or a favorite worn T-shirt you’d wear to sleep. It feels safe and warm and smells like comfort. It feels like something we’ve done a million times before.

I love the time we spend together – there seem to be only good moments. Just being with you makes me feel better – whether it’s just a hug or listening to you talk. There never seems to be enough time for us to be together – seven stops on our train ride to work, a single hour for lunch. No time for lingering, but plenty for longing.

There are so many things I like about you. And to list them out would only make it that much harder. But if I had one thing to say to her, it would be: do you realize how good you have it??

You’re not the first guy to make me think about marriage, but you’re definitely the first man I’ve thought about marrying. I’m not saying I’ve planned for a wedding or babies or anything like that. And I’m not trying to be overly sentimental. It’s more of a feeling I get when I’m with you – of having you, of wanting you, in my life forever. Of happiness.

But every dreamer has to wake, and to accept the realities that bind their fantasies. At the end of the day, you still go home to her. You still belong to her. Even after all that she’s said and done to you, all the physical pain and emotional scars she’s inflicted upon you, all the times I’ve pleaded with you to stop being such a damn hero, to stop trying to save her and to save yourself, even though you claim you’re halfway out the door…..the bottom line is, you’re still with her. And as much as I want you to be, you’re not mine and I’m not sure you ever will be.

Sometimes I think she’ll never let you go, and that a part of you doesn’t want her to. My heart breaks a little every time you mention the little things you do together. Irrationally so, I know. Although things may have stalled along the way, the two of you have started building a life together. You have a history. You have shared memories. You have ties to her family, connections with her friends. You have a house together, you have proposals and promises – real, tangible proof of your commitment to one another and of your time and life as one.

And what do we have? A “relationship” (whatever that means) that neither of us can talk about – a shared secret. Snatches of time. Unspoken rules, implicit boundaries. A full-stop, but also a question mark. Something that feels so real when we’re together but dissipates into wisps of smoke as soon as we’re apart.

I said I hope it works out for the both of you, but does it make me a horrible person if what I really want to say is that I hope it doesn’t? Only because it would break my heart. Choose me, is what I want to say to you. Pick me. Love me. Be with me. Please. Because I think I’m in love with you.

That was nearly three months ago, when writing was more an outpouring of emotions, as a catharsis to confused thoughts. It all seems so trite and cliché now – the laments of a hopeless lover, but perhaps I overlook the notion that loving and losing someone is commonplace, a shared rite of passage as we each find our way through this thing we called life.

Has time afforded the benefit and wisdom of hindsight? Perhaps. Does time heal all wounds? Maybe. A wound that was once sharp and red and angry and raw is now a battle scar that leaves a dull pain when rubbed absent-mindedly.

Looking back, so many things happened in those last three months. People began to talk and you hated it – although we both knew where we stood and what did (or in our case, didn’t) happen. You said we should take a break, spend some time apart so you took a step back and put some distance between us. We went from seeing each other on every train journey and every break, to having lunch together maybe once a week. We went from texting constantly before, during and after work to frigid ‘how are you?’s every few days. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt, that it wasn’t a blow to the gut. For me, it was a painful reminder that friendships often breed in cracks to fill up the banality of everyday life. Without the seemingly small moments and trivial conversations, the chatter between cups of tea, it’s hard to maintain a similar level of intimacy and closeness.

You found a new group of friends at work and you all seemed to be in your own (impenetrable) bubble of laughter and happiness. I joined in a couple of times, always welcomed in yet somehow always feeling left out. You and your group did things you said we never could – go for dinner as friends, hang out on the weekends. I think it was a line you were afraid of crossing with me. Things also started getting better between you and her, and you started making plans again.

And yes, some days I was hurt and angry – you seemed to have gotten everything you wanted, everything had worked out for you. You had won and I had lost. You had moved on and left me behind. But once the fog of disappointment and hurt cleared, I realized that love isn’t a zero-sum game. Removing my heart from the equation, it was clear that you were much happier – the difference was strikingly obvious.

I know the world we live in is never simply black or white, it’s always shades of gray. It wasn’t as easy as admitting that you liked me and that I liked you, and saying to one another, “Hey, let’s go on a couple of dates and see where this goes.” Given both our personal situations, we agreed to draw lines in the sand, lines we respectfully observed. We never crossed any of them, although we did flirt with danger and walk precariously along a couple. There was never a physical betrayal but the rare deep-set emotional and spiritual connection we found in one another made it seem tantamount to that.

There’s no denying we have chemistry, but as the saying goes, “You need two things for love – chemistry and timing. And timing’s a bitch.” I truly believe that everything in life happens for a reason. I think we found each other at a time in our lives when we both needed a friend. A lifeline in a dark unseeing ocean. Perhaps now that reason has run out, perhaps you don’t need me anymore. Or maybe you do.

I don’t know what the future has in store for us, but I’ll always remember the good memories we shared. And there were so many of them. Short-lived but intense is probably the best way to describe it. There weren’t grand gestures or expensive gifts, crazy days out, and no fancy dinners or dressing up. There were just lots of walks in the summer sunshine, lots of talks – some silly, some serious. Moments frozen in time, but memories to melt my heart all over again. TC mark

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