The last time I was here, she left a $20 note on the bar before walking out onto the street. The summertime drizzle wasn’t enough to stop her exit, though she was soon saved by an oncoming taxi.
I thought it’d be the last time I see her—she had made it clear that it wouldn’t work, that we had intersected somehow while living nearly parallel lives. But what left a mark wasn’t the loss of the missing piece of an infinite puzzle—it was the way she chose to discard the values we seek in all our lives.
“What about how we make each other feel? The things we both love, the conversations we’ve had? Wasn’t this more than just sex?”
“You have to understand you’re not the only guy I get that with.”
And with that, a door shut on my chest, my breathing collapsed and suddenly gravity vanished into a feeling of helplessness. You live your life to build up walls, but there’s nothing like a woman’s scorn to tear them down at a moment’s notice.
Three weeks later, she reaches out to meet. Half-broken and fully optimistic, I say yes. The truth is, I’m blinded by hope, because hope is all we have in the face of nothingness. In a sea of a million options, certainty defeats minuscule math. An existing connection, no matter how botched, still holds a greater chance of success than strangers passing in the night. Upside potential is punditry when you’re not in the thick of it.
“I’m sorry about how I left. Can we be friends?”
I could draw charts and graphs and write a thesis on the condition of the broken heart—and none of them, at least not the ones with the strength to fight—would ever accept such a cease fire. Our bodies are Churchill in the face of Hitler. We rest at Dunkirk awaiting our saviours, and we do not accept resolution that results in capitulation of our hopes.
Or, sometimes, we are just stubborn people.
It’s been two years, and I’ve not seen her since. I’ve written fantasies, imagined tomorrows and ploughed through regrets. Today, I come back to where she left me to tell this story in hopes of some level of closure—though that’s probably wishful thinking. The human heart is like a hard drive that you can’t ever really erase. The subconscious pops up every once in a while to remind you of specifics of the past.
I remember moments. I think about her, the smile, the warmth, the way we talked about more days and nights together—because on this side of paradise, we live fantasies until we are brought back to the truth. On this side of paradise, existence alone is sometimes sufficient and worthy of celebration in an otherwise violent world. On this side of paradise, we never forget her for our humanity is built on the strength of those we’ve lost.