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Dear ------,

I don’t know what you were thinking, walking out on me like that. I don’t know--I don’t think I can ever know--what was going through your head as you tossed random items into your suitcase and, screaming and crying, you informed me of your decision to leave. And when I said that that was okay, that I didn’t expect anything else, well, the startled look in your eye and the momentary cessation of your sobs gave me a clue as to what you were thinking.

I remember that the sun was high in the sky as you stepped through the front door that penultimate time. They had been calling for snow that day, I believe, but it turned out to be a beautifully warm day, with no humidity. I recall waking up feeling refreshed and ready to have a wonderful day, ready to move past the events of last night and head into a crisp and clear future. You seemed prepared to do the same thing, judging by the soft glow in your eye. I remembered the frightening blaze in your eyes the night before--remembered cowering beneath those eyes. But, I thought, it didn’t matter now. Wordlessly, we’d move beyond that, forget about it.

It was painful, however, sitting at the kitchen table and eating our breakfasts in a strained silence, the tension increasing with each fragment of thought denied, with each word left unsaid. The air grew heavy, and I began to sweat despite the niceness of the day. Or perhaps in spite of the day. I wonder if you remember what I said to you the first night we met, on the bridge above the overflowing river? I suppose you don’t--not that it matters anymore….

After breakfast, I don’t know what came over me. I think I panicked because of the extremely uncomfortable meal we had just shared, or perhaps you’re right and I am just crazy. I don’t know, but for whatever reason I became extremely frightened by the thought of losing you. I didn’t want you to just be a chapter in my book: I wanted you to be my book. But, like you would say later that morning, what made me think I was good enough for you? What gave me that idea?

When we met, we were both right out of college, both celebrating our recent graduations. I stumbled out of a bar immediately after I was “cut off” by the bartender; and as I stumbled, I collided with you. Mumbling apologies, I turned to stagger away, but you stopped and asked if I wasn’t too young to be so drunk. I turned around to face you and, chuckling, said that I was celebrating an occasion, that I had perfectly good reasons for being so out of it. And then you did the first thing that made me begin to fall in love with you: you saw right through me. “If this is how you’re celebrating,” you said slowly, “you must be trying to avoid something. So tell me: what are you hoping to escape?”

You were right. I was too afraid of facing my future. Terribly afraid. And you cut through me so quickly and easily, it was almost boring. What did I matter to you, anyway? What did you care?

I shook the memories out of my head. To be honest, I couldn’t be sure how much I could trust the scene that had just played in my head. Everything I remember could have been distorted over the years, which was part of the reason why I was acting the way I was: I couldn’t exactly remember why I fell in love with you. So I grew angry. No, not angry. Bitter.

A cool breeze swept through the house from the direction of the front door; worried, I dashed to the front of the house to stop you, to keep you indoors. I made it to the door but you were already outside, halfway to the sidewalk. I shouted your name and you froze mid-step, and I, not missing a beat, ran to you. “Don’t go,” I whispered once I reached you, “don’t go.”

You just stared at me, bewildered. Then, slowly, you turned away from me, walked to the mailbox, and brought the mail back indoors. Stunned, I just stood on the lawn, trembling.

Outside the bar, if my memory hasn’t completely failed me, we talked enough to feel comfortable walking through the city next to each other, getting to know one another. Amazingly (miraculously?) I could feel myself sobering up. I couldn’t believe it. By the time we reached the bridge the stars blanketed the skies and the moon hung like an eye in the air, watching, waiting. Or did we go by the hotel first, and hear the bums arguing over whose God was the better--the God the Jews pray to, or the God the Christians pray to? I remember scoffing at them, thinking the question was an absurd one when I remembered that there were arguments like this even in the same religion and between different religions. I remembered that wars were and were being waged over this question: whose God is better? And that only made it all the more absurd….

Eventually, I managed to walk back into the house. You were sitting on the couch, staring at the television even though it was off. I walked up to you, hoping I would find the right words to say, when you saved me the trouble and asked, “What are you so afraid of?”

After some thought, I said, “Losing you.”

You shook your head; you saw right through me again. “Don’t play games with me. This has been going on for a while. You’re always afraid of something, and that ruins you. It’s what’s driving me away.”

I stood unable to answer. I just looked at you looking at the TV. After a few minutes of silence, you turned your head and looked me directly in the eye.

So many times after that moment when our eyes met did I wonder what, what you saw in them, what you saw in me, what you saw of me. What did that silent communication hold for you? What did it reveal? I’ve lost so much sleep over that moment, that moment when you saw my cowardice and I saw that you understood me too well. And we stared into each other’s eyes from only a few feet away, you sitting and me standing, until, eventually, amidst the mounting the tension, the unbearable pain we both felt, I dropped my gaze and looked at the floor.

You stood up quickly. I knew you would. You went into the basement and got a suitcase. I saw you were crying, and when you went upstairs I followed, watching you. You whispered a few things, didn’t scream--why did I say “screaming” earlier?--and shook with tears. I watched you pack, and I watched you leave. You, I knew, deserved much better than me.

On the bridge, regardless of what happened between the bar and there, we stood and stared into the close and shimmering water below. We had been discussing something before we set foot on the stone structure, but once we stopped and leaned over the edge we fell silent. But then, after half an hour of peace, I said, “We’ll never last.”

I don’t think you heard me. Because three years later, we were married. Three years after that, we were divorced.

The last time I saw you, the last time you left through the front doors, was a few months before everything was finalized, when I still had a hope of reclaiming you. But I was too afraid to say anything as you collected your things, packed them neatly into boxes and, in one trip out the door, left.

But why? Why am I writing this? Why is it now in your hands?

So that I can tell you this, my dear:

I enjoyed our time together to the last moment.

Yours,
-----





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