“I was in love, once. It was so deep and intense that I honestly believed I couldn’t live without it. When the time came to part with my lover, when I thought I heard my destiny calling and went to follow it instead of staying there with her, it felt like I was leaving a piece of myself behind. Our hearts were so entwined that they’d become fused and, rather than rend in twain, mine elected to remain attached to hers while my body flew away. I didn’t realize it at the time, though. I’d thought I just felt sad for leaving. It wouldn’t be until a couple of years later, when we had an opportunity to reunite, that I’d understand how much that part of me mattered, to everything. I’d been dying without it.”

He shifted in seat, like he’d suddenly discovered his underwear was too tight. The look on his face was priceless. “Seriously?” I asked. “You should hear yourself.”

“Oh, I have. You think I haven’t told myself this same story, standing in cold bathrooms in the middle of the night, staring into my own hollow eyes in the mirror and wondering what the hell I was doing? How I could have been so stupid to believe that my livelihood was, in any way, shape, or form, more important than the feelings I’d had for her?”

“Why did you leave, then?”

“That’s a great question, considering everything that followed. We can see the past clearly because we have the gift of knowing it as history. At the time, in the moments leading up to and inhabiting my decision to go, it was only conjecture and the usual misty unknown that the future presents. Even now, you can only make an educated guess at what will happen in the coming moment. Once it passes, it’s easy enough to see how things went and should have gone. But at the time? I thought it was the right thing to do. It’s too easy to dismiss what I did as stupidity, even with the near decade of time that’s elapsed and everything that’s happened since. It was a move that I felt more passion for than her. At that time, I never thought I’d see her again. I really didn’t. I’m an optimist at heart, at least I think I am, but I couldn’t make any promises about the future. Who can?”

I mulled it over. “You’re right,” I said at last, “though that could never stand as an excuse, rather it was a contributing factor to your eventual breakup.”

“Sure, and that’s the point I’m trying make. In the end, as with all passionate love, the only way to get free from it is to sublimate it with rationalism. You have to corner it with self-explanations and lock it up good and tight. Cage it with reason and get on with the business of living. And as we’ve seen, no one can tell the future. There could come a time when I can unfetter my imprisoned feelings and rediscover that piece of myself that still lives within her. But I’m not banking on it.”

2015.02.15 – 2023.09.11

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