“We aren’t in love until we give someone a part of ourselves we can never take back.” ~ Michael Xavier
It seems that in a thousand ill-fated moments before this one, I began to leave you.
Maybe I began leaving you as soon as we’d met, over the scent of your tea steaming like fall apples and everything that I thought I ever wanted.
Or maybe even now, I haven’t truly left you—and that is why you are still here, nestled in this spot beneath my heart, neither truly here nor there, yet as entwined as you’ve ever been.
But the only way I knew how to love you was by leaving you. Because in this way, you will always remain a cherished memory, never having been tarnished by the heartbreak that two humans who haven’t quite figured out life tend to do to one another.
Maybe it was just that you were everything I wanted, yet not a bit of what I truly needed. No matter how good your worn shirt looked draped over my succulent frame, still ripe and juicy from your touch, there was a part that just never fit.
It was a part that I had tried to change, thinking that with some sanding around the edges, somehow things would eventually come into place as effortlessly as your lips always had against mine.
But it never did—or maybe it was simply that the unfitting was just the way that we were supposed to be all along.
I’d like to think that maybe—just maybe—there exists a place where you and I could be together, but perhaps that is a fairy-tale that simply hasn’t been written yet.
Or possibly, it’s one that is already known through the morose words of a glass slipper that never fit and young men who climbed beanstalks in search of something great, all the while missing what was right in front of them.
I don’t know if I ever knew how to stay in this place and love you and your beat up old green Chevy that always seemed to smell like fresh cedar. I used to believe that together we could go anywhere—that I could be your sidekick and travel along with you over bumpy roads, just to feel the way my shoulders would hit against yours when the going got too tough.
That is before I realized that, even though you are a great man, I can’t be a sidekick to someone else’s story-line, because my own words have grown wings and needed room to learn how to fly. But maybe that is only half the truth, because if you were able to fly with me, then there’s no doubt that we would weave ourselves together just as colorful and warmly as the blanket that we used to huddle under, beneath the sky so full of stars and hope.
I love you. I love you in the pieces of my memories and in the way the citrusy taste of your lips would linger upon mine long after you’ve left. I love cold mornings with you, and the frost so thick upon the old windows that I’d draw your name and mine in hearts together.
I love our past, even knowing that we could never have a future—and so I have let you go.
Although into what or to whom, I am unsure—but all I know is that just because I love you, it doesn’t mean that I am ready for you. Allegedly, women are always “supposed to be ready”—just waiting for that gold band to be slipped upon our fragile fingers and to be taken off the market for good.
But the truth is, I’ve never really been “on the market,” because I’ve been too consumed with building my life in the way that I want it to be. I’ve never thought that I needed someone to be complete, yet the truth is that I don’t even know what it feels like to be loved.
I don’t know where I am headed now that I have left you and the cobalt blue mugs that we would curl up with, over Earl Grey and thoughts that tasted like lemon, but I do know that it will forever be tainted with your memory.
It was my choice and my need, but that doesn’t mean that I liked making it—it only means that I loved you enough to leave you, when I realized that I would never be the woman that you so desperately needed me to be, or rather deserved me to be.
Maybe we will find love even sweeter than the one that trickled down our chins with watermelon’s jubilation, or maybe every other kiss will only taste like salt compared to yours. I can’t promise that either of us will find what we are seeking in this life, but I can promise that no one will ever love you like I have.
My steps across the new spring grass are tender as I pass the sunny and cheerful daffodils I planted along your field-stone foundation—almost as if I knew that they would be there to keep you company long after I had gone.
Someday—maybe in a field of a thousand wishes finally come true—we will be able to meet again, and perhaps then time really will be on our side.
At that time, maybe you will have stopped searching for meaning outside of yourself—and maybe then, I will have finally lost the fear of letting someone in deep enough to see all of my broken edges.
It just might be the most beautiful fairy-tale of all, but it’s one that remains shelved against the barriers of time and space.
Because while I love you, my only choice is to leave you and your hands that are always creased with the grey dust of clay.
I’ve learned that sometimes love just isn’t enough.
Maybe someday we will meet in that field where anything is possible, because I have to believe that even old souls like you and I deserve a happy ending.
And I truly believe that sometimes the universe conspires to give us precisely what we’ve been searching for all along—a love that even time will lie down and be still for.
Author: Kate Rose
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina