We met when I was in the seventh grade, and you were an eighth-grader. That was twenty years ago. There was always something between us; we were intense, you a Pisces, me a Scorpio. Ain’t it the truth. We talked, we laughed, we flirted, and I was scared. I didn’t know what to do with my body there in its wheelchair, didn’t know how to feel or be pretty in your eyes. But you were a kind high school boy, and said truly meaningful things like, “I really like when you wear that sweater, it makes your boobs look really good.” I am pretty sure we loved each other, in the sweetest, most longing kind of way. Time went by; we went on one date, to the movies to see Claire and Leo kill themselves for love, and you held my hand for the first time on the way home. It took another whole year for our first kiss, even after everything. I have never felt more special.
More time went by, we decided we were not for each other, met, dated, and screwed other people. But it was always there, that chance we had never taken, the secret refuge and promise of nostalgia. You always said you wanted to be married and a dad by the time you were 26, and you were. You are a great dad, even though you and his mom got divorced. Through it all we would touch base sometimes. We always knew the other one was out there, something good, something sweet, somehow ours. You used to call me long distance from overseas when you were in the service and you hated it.
More years went by, and I would hear about you, or see you on Facebook, and there was still that old pull. I asked you, out of the blue, to go out of town with me, and you wanted to, but had just started a new job, and couldn’t get away. But you wanted to, you said so, and I believed you.
You got a new phone this summer and texted me from your new number. We had maybe not really talked in ten years or so. You finally admitted that you had unresolved feelings for me, how much you wished we had taken bigger steps in our relationship, and how you thought of me so much. You said if we had gone out of town you would have taken your chance to make love,with me, and love and love and love with me. I asked you if you realized you are the person that other than my family has been in my personal interior life the longest, and wasn’t it great to know we still had each other in some way? You said you did, and yes, it was, and like me, you were glad and thankful.
We made plans to see each other shortly after that, when you were going to be in ____, an hour away, for a week-long work conference. We were going to meet here, at my house, alone and finally adults, on a Friday night. I cleaned the house from top to bottom and put on makeup. And all that day, you did not answer my calls or my texts. You did not come. You did not call or text, or make any contact with me. No excuses, no stories, nothing. I was sure it was because something happened with your son, or to you. You would never do that to me. Not the boy I knew, with those beautiful deep brown eyes. The one I had known for so long, and who maybe loved previous teenage me. I preferred to imagine you in some emergency, and was prepared to give you enough time to get in touch.
Weeks went by. No word. Casually, I saw a comment you posted on someone’s FB. With a sense of disbelief, I clicked on your name, because it meant that clearly you were right there where you had always been, and not forgivably run off the road, in a ditch and then in traction. And I saw your status, saying how happy and in love you were, and I saw your new girlfriend.
I just don’t understand. Did you decide it wasn’t worth it, that the chemistry was not enough, that out twenty-year history was not worth a returned phone call, or a straight answer? I will never know for sure, because I will never ask you, and because it doesn’t really matter. You aren’t who I thought you were. You are not the man you say you strive to be.
You wouldn’t believe it if I told you, but I’m not really angry anymore. I’m not hurt that you treated me the way you did this summer. I am very hurt, though (and you deserve to know and hear this) that you did not respect me or everything that had been between us. I am sad that I feel now that I never really knew you at all, and that when I look back on all those sweet, fond, innocent, exciting, charged, tender, funny, laughing, sexy, patient, stolen moments, they are tarnished now, and kind of empty. You have stolen away the brightness and warmth that you yourself gave me, and that I had made a part of myself for so long.
Goodbye. You made this choice. I don’t need to know why. But I hope you stay gone. I won’t try to find you.