Dear Soulmate-Who-Got-Away:

9 09 2006

Broken Heart
As you probably remember, I turn 40 later this month. We haven’t talked in over a year, and I certainly don’t expect you to call. I don’t expect a card. For that matter, I don’t even know that I’d open a card from you or answer the telephone if I saw your name on the Caller ID. I’m that hurt. When it comes to you, I’m that fragile.

Still, and this is probably the mid-life crisis talking, I keep wondering if I should reach out to you one more time. One last time? When we first met, over 10 years ago, you were the one who said no, of course. You were the one who said we shouldn’t be together. I pretty much fell apart after that, but I decided we should keep in touch. Something—something in you, mind you—told me that we might not be finished. When I moved away several months later, I invoked Tracy Chapman’s “Give Me One Reason” in a letter I wrote to you (a letter that took me days to write):

Give me one reason to stay here,
and I’ll turn right back around.
Give me one reason to stay here,
and I’ll turn right back around.
Because I don’t want to leave you lonely,
but you got to make me change my mind.

You later told me that, in response to my letter, you actually gave some thought to asking me to stay. Where would we be now if you had, I wonder? I wish I knew.

Anyway, years went by, and we talked less and less—although we remained in contact. Deep in my heart, and deep in my mind, I thought we might not be finished. I guess I was right, huh?

A couple of years ago, when the ex and I were separating, you suddenly stepped forward. I’ll never forget how you confessed, on one of our once-again-daily phone calls, that you’d always thought we had some real connection. Even though we disagreed on much (religion, politics), you said, there was always some “spark” when we talked. I knew what you meant, of course. I’d known it all along. When we talked, when we were together, I had always felt like I was under the influence of something I couldn’t control. Love.

So we dated. We lived 1,500 miles apart, but we each racked up frequent flyer miles. You came here; I visited you; we met over and over again in New York. Much to your discomfort, our mutual friends started to describe us as “boyfriends.” I think you knew we were boyfriends; I think you hated the label.

I don’t really know what happened. On one of our trips to New York, you seemed different. You went out of your way to avoid touching me. You seemed evasive. When, with my voice breaking, I finally asked “if we were still together,” you said you didn’t know. You said you had doubts. When I said that doubt could be a bond, that we could just incorporate your doubts and mine into whatever we were creating, you pretended not to understand.

I knew it was over. I wanted to leave that night, to get up while you were sleeping and disappear into the night. You had asked me to stay the rest of the weekend, though, and (inevitably) I agreed.

After that, there was physical and emotional distance. You called less frequently, and I answered the telephone even less. You cancelled a planned trip to Philly, and I made our next planned meeting—in Vermont—a make-it-or-break-it event. When you cancelled that trip, I gave up on you. I thought I was saving my sanity, but I may have been dampening the spark for good. I wish I knew.

We’ve only spoken once since then. After Hurricane Katrina, I didn’t know what had happened to you or to one of our mutual friends. I called, and we talked. I pretended to be all right and to be interested, mostly, in our friend’s whereabouts. You congratulated me on a recent promotion. You didn’t talk about the spark, or Vermont, or Tracy Chapman, or love. I felt like I was on a business call, not on the telephone with the love of my life.

I didn’t want to talk to you after that. And I didn’t. You called over and over again. You left messages on my answering machine. I never called you back. If I hurt you by doing that, I’m sorry, I guess. I was just trying to protect myself. The distance between us was already so great; I didn’t want it to be even more palpable.

Last Christmas, I sent you a card. I considered it for days. Should I send a card? Should I write something inside it? Should I just move on? In the end, I wrote something simple—”I love you”—and put it in the mail. Several weeks later, you left a message on my machine, saying that I’d sent the best card of the year. But I didn’t know if you were referring to the pretty card or the sentiment. I wish I knew.

By the way, I saved that phone message for months. As a souvenir, I suppose. It hurt to play it, to be reminded of the distance between us. I couldn’t get rid of it, though, especially after you (understandably) stopped calling and leaving messages altogether.

So that’s where we are today. Nowhere. I’m lonely, and I suspect you are, too. I know I’ve never felt a spark that strong with anyone else, and I wonder if you feel the same way. Part of me wants to ask. I feel like I’ve put myself forward, for you, over and over and over again, though. I invoked Tracy Chapman. Years later, I told you I still loved you. When you said you had doubts, I nevertheless reached out again.

And then I stopped. Was that a mistake? In my fantasies, you were frustrated by my unwillingness to answer the phone; in my fantasies, you got so fed up that you flew to Philadelphia and sat on my doorstep; in my fantasies, I fell apart when I saw you on the porch; in my fantasies, we lived happily ever after. That didn’t happen, of course. I wish it had. Because although I still love you, it would take something that dramatic to convince me that you still love me.

I’m lonely, and I’m pessimistic about finding love with anyone else. I’ve looked a long time, you know, and you’re the one with the spark.

For my 40th birthday, should I call you? Should I appear on your doorstep? Or, Soulmate-Who-Got-Away, should I just give up on you?

I wish I knew.

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2 responses

22 09 2006
Anyone, Somebody

This really touched me.

18 05 2010
Hope

I hope you called. I hope he called. Please say one of you did.

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