We didn’t speak; we didn’t keep in touch. For a long time, I remained convinced that this period of distance was a strange emotional coma from which you would suddenly awake. You would tell me that you were sorry to have been so weird, that you had always loved me, that I had always been right. I suppose I have watched enough movies in my life to believe that no story, if unsatisfying, is ever at its very end. The tiny flame of hope that this may all have been a petulant phase in your otherwise limitless capacity for love and understanding was perhaps more painful than the harsh finality of your disinterest. To keep grasping at ever-slimmer chances of a happy ending was frustrating, and then ridiculous, and then profoundly sad. I would have liked to just go straight to sad.
After our time flew past me, the passing of months and years became more soft, more understandable. Time once again resembled the lazy river that it had always been, not catching me in its refusal to slow down and let me breathe. The months turned into years, and every last bit of dust from our strange little hurricane had settled. My thoughts of us had become — have become — tiny vignettes that pass in front of my eyes only when faced with a direct reference to you. And they no longer carry a sting, or a turn of the stomach, or even a remote desire to reach out. Life is better (as I had always imagined it might be) when I am surrounded by people of whose love I am completely sure.
I will not forget you, though. I don’t think that you particularly deserve my memory, nor do I flatter myself into believing that you return my sense of vague wistfulness. There is no part of me that wants to return to the limbo I existed in for so long, or even the often-imagined parallel universe in which you reciprocated my feelings to the letter. I do, however, want to remember what it feels like to be hurt, to want, to need something so desperately only to find out that your life is perfectly fine without it. As much as the little scar on my knee will always remind me to watch out when I am running, yours on my heart will teach me to be kind. Because I know what it feels like to be cast aside with indifference, and I know that it’s a pain from which the body itself takes a long time to recover. You will live in my mind as a cautionary tale, a fable of how much damage words can do — especially when they are insincere. And though I am not nostalgic for what we did have, I am hopeful about life being filled with everything we didn’t.