It's been a year now. It's strange to realize that, to wrap my head around how a whole 365 days have passed. A year since I told a circle table full of new faces about this project I was launching, this desire to share stories. A year since you eagerly jumped in before I had finished clumsily trying to explain it and said you wanted to dive in. A year since we sat at Panera just a few days later, in a booth I can't sit in again, and I heard you talk about your life in a way that drew me in. A year since I tried to avoid looking at your eyes, thinking "don't fall, don't fall, don't fall."
A year since I did.
But you left. I always knew the leaving was coming, it was the very first thing I learned about you. The paperwork had been done, the plans had been set, and you would be moving to Africa. It seemed wild, exotic, romantic.
But you left. And I broke. I had fallen, against my better judgment. I tried to hold on to the fraying end of a rope, but there was nothing left to cling to with so many miles and so much ocean between us.
You were the last one I said I loved. You were the last one I called mine. You were the last one I fell for. I don't know who will be next, if there will be somebody to be next. I hope there will be, someday.
Because of you, I learned something I needed badly to grasp. It is good to let others in, and it is good to let others go.
From the start, what we had was honesty and vulnerability and words and nothing held back. We got to a place of depth quickly, and it was both terrifying and exhilarating. You showed me people don't always run when true colors come out.
You showed me people aren't always for forever, but that even short seasons of togetherness can be beautiful and life-changing. My life was changed by the three months I spent getting to know you and letting you get to know me. It was changed even more by the weeks after you left, and the process of me learning that I'm okay on my own, strong on my own, capable on my own, alive on my own.
I've never been good at letting down my guard, at letting people see the twisted, tangled mess of my heart. You showed me it's worth it, no matter how it ends. You proved you were trustworthy and you were real with me in return. I've never been good at letting people go, at loosening my grip and cutting ties and moving on. Because of you, I've learned sometimes that's best.
Not everyone is meant to stay on stage for the entire play, some are just supporting characters whose roles are short and sweet in the spotlight. Their names will still be mentioned in the program, but they don't need to be in bold, they don't need to be highlighted, they don't need to have an encore. Their part was enough as it was, and the play better because they participated, but the show must go on and I must keep playing my own role once others fade behind the curtain.
Thank you for sharing your story and your summer with me, 365 days ago. Thank you for showing me the best kinds of Malbec wine, for dancing with me even when I was half asleep, for the game nights and the road trips, for teaching me your signature sultry-eye stare, for crushing me in bowling games and wearing monogrammed dress shirts, for never letting me win in a debate, and for always reading my words and my letters. Thank you for teaching me more in three months than I've still fully realized. It was a wild ride and I'm grateful for all of it.
Wishing you well always,