“If you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you, it’s yours forever. If it doesn’t, then it was never meant to be.” That overused expression fails to explain the feeling that comes with letting something go, whether or not you even loved it in the first place, and how you loved it--whether it be romantically, or, as in my case, friendly.
When you let someone you don’t love go, you don’t care if they come back--you’d like for them to, but they rarely cross your mind, if at all.
I knew a boy with blue-green eyes and sandy-brown hair that flopped when he ran. When he spoke to me for the first time, he was probably in a blue t-shirt and brown khakis that his mom probably picked out for him. Collectively the first graders had just walked silently down the hallway to the doors that led to the playground. When we made it outside, he walked up to me and asked, “do you wanna date me?” Spoken like a true gentleman.
And me, being the kind of child incapable of saying “no” to anything except pickles until I was 13, said, “uh, sure.”
And he replied with, “cool. See ya later,” before walking away to play with two red-headed twins. Casanovas everywhere were taking notes.
When there were only a few minutes left of recess, he found his way back to me and said, “I don’t think this is gonna work.”
And to no surprise, I replied with, “yeah me either,” and he ran away with the twins again.
After first grade, I didn’t see him at school anymore. I figured it was just because we had different homeroom teachers and were assigned different tables at lunch. It turns out, he had switched schools, which I didn’t know until three years later, when I met him again at a different school.
For those next three years, we caught up and joked around, and everything was great until sixth grade. We both had some personal problems, but we had different ways of coping. I tried to help myself by helping the people around me. He could pick out exactly how someone was actually feeling--not just the emotion they were showing, and he used that to comfort people. He didn’t help himself, though.
Then radio silence. He hadn’t been at school for about a week and hadn’t spoken to me in a while. So, I asked his mom what was going on, and she let me know he had left the school, and the whole state for that matter, to work on his mental health.
That sucked. I wanted to be there for him, like physically be with him and support him and listen to him, but I couldn’t. And it sucked. I never realized how important he was to me and how much I needed to talk to him and hear him and see him until I couldn’t speak to him or listen to his voice or actually see him.
When someone you love leaves, you need them to come back--but you let them choose to when they’re ready.
A couple of weeks go by, and then I got a letter in the mail. It was decorated with two strips of flame tape with my name and address written with a glitter pen. When I opened it, I got five pages of sparkly writing and doodles from him, and I don’t think there has ever been a time in my life that I was as happy as I was in that moment. We exchanged letters for two years.
The second happiest I’ve probably been was the first time I got to see him after he came back home--just in time to start high school. At a different school. What a big slap in the face that was. But we made it work--until New Year's day at 1 or 2 in the morning.
We kicked off 2016 the right way by having the worlds stupidest argument which resulted in us not talking for two years. What an even bigger slap in the face, only this one left me convincing myself that he hated me; and if he hated me, then I would have to learn to be happy without him. And I really didn’t want to do that.
Then, January 23rd of this year rolled around. He sent me a picture of the poster I drew for him for his 14th or 15th birthday still hanging on his wall. Needless to say, I was happy, but I was so surprised--to the point where I didn’t think it was real, and it took me ten days to respond because it didn’t feel real.
When they love you back, they never honestly feel gone. They may physically leave, but they never leave your mind or heart--not really.
When he told me that he had been thinking about me, it was a kind of relief--he had been doing the same thing I had been doing for the past six years.