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There are times where I like to pretend that if we just had one conversation, one last moment of words we meant to say but didn’t, or things we really felt, but didn’t do anything about, that it could fill all the empty space between us and make it feel a little less overwhelming.
I’ve spent a lot of time pretending, especially when it has come to you. I think it’s always been that way, if I’m honest. Because in all the time I’ve known you, we’ve spent it more apart than we ever did together. Life has a funny way of doing things though—you think about the person who isn’t in the room because you want to know what would happen if they were.
I used to imagine every possible scenario that could involve the two of us, even if I knew the reality was that we would’ve sat by each other and barely said a word. I used to pretend that you would say all the things I wanted you to say, or even that you would just…stay. The fantasies felt real because I never thought I was asking for much. I wasn’t asking for grand gestures or perfect prose brought to life. I really just wanted you, with me, and able to admit that you wanted it too.
Life has a funny way of doing things though. Sometimes the words show up, but too late, too hollow. You don’t remember the words carrying a melancholy tone to them. You don’t remember the idea of the person finally telling you what you want to hear and the words just don’t fit right in their mouth, the way you pictured they would. Sometimes the person can be right in front of you, but the storyline in your head is all wrong. Sometimes life reminds you that option you think the most about isn’t the best one, even when it takes you too long to see it. You don’t remember the possibility that there could be someone else, someone who wasn’t them. You don’t remember rehearsing how to say that you have feelings for a new person who’s laugh is filling your headspace. You don’t remember planning a conversation that involved the words “I’m sorry” and “I wanted it to be you, but it’s not anymore.”
I don’t remember in any of the conversations I imagined for us that any of them would involve me telling you about someone else.
I think it was easier to hold onto a memory than to admit that us not working out really was the best thing if I let myself embrace our reality.
And in the midst of that reality, we made some promises that I’m sure we meant to keep, but never did. Is there ever a good time to follow up a conversation about how you aren’t going to move forward, not together? It’s easier to admit we would rather avoid talking about it anymore than to look at each other and know that after that moment, there would be no more discussion. There would be no more potential for us.
So we avoid it. We don’t have a last conversation, so that we don’t have to face the truth.
Life has a funny way of doing things though. It reminds you in subtle ways, in the emptiness of conversations and the absence of a smile you used to study like it was everything. It triggers memories that you never expected to miss, it occasionally throws you together again in a room full of people and lets you feel the ache of realizing how long it’s been to be in the same place.
It reminds you that regardless of how much easier you thought it would be to avoid it. You can’t. Not really.
You keep the regret as a parting gift and hope it finds a place on the shelf over time, instead of always in your memory.
I like to pretend that if we could sit down and have one last conversation, then maybe there could be some peace to replace the ache. I think it’s easier to imagine 74 conversations that all end with some sort of healing for both of us than to admit I’m not even sure what your voice sounds like anymore. I think it’s easier to chase the idea of closure than to admit that we aren’t any closer now than we used to be. Yet the truth is, a conversation changes nothing—it wouldn’t have fixed the circumstances. It would just reiterate what we already knew. It would just give us more words to play back when the empty space decided to make itself known once again.
I know now that the only thing that will make things any easier is time. I know that nothing could’ve made things easier, because for us to walk away from each other wasn’t easy by any means. I know that to pretend any exchange of words could’ve mended us is just another way to pretend.
Though when it comes to you and me, I think it’s easier to admit it’s what I’m best at.