In 1998, I was on a train out of London, the skyline receeding in the background, the clickity-clack of the rails, a slight drizzle. I'd just talked to my ex-girlfriend on the phone in the station, her in a different time zone across the Atlantic, her telling me that it was too late.
The train picked up speed, London grew smaller, and I wiped the tears off my face and thought, "Even though this feeling sucks, it means that I can feel. And that means I'm alive."
Six years and several girlfriends and breakups later, here I am again, this time in my apartment in the Bay area, tears again--for the first time in a long time, allowing myself to feel sadness at the end of a relationship (walking away without feeling used to feel so simple)--but now my feelings on a blog.
Eight months. That was us. Dog years, in my book. She said to me, "For the first time I see the possibilities, what I'm capable of. You've shown me that." I said, "Being with you has made me a better man."
What makes a relationship work? We looked at the world through different filters. She wanted a home, a 30-year mortgage, a stable job. I wanted to dream, to write, to travel. To experience my dreams become real. Our dreams were not the same.
My friends, the ones who know me well, said, "You will take the growth you've had with her and it will be a part of you. You will carry that to the next one." I know that.
But still, I lay in bed and couldn't imagine being friends, getting together for coffee, then walking to our cars and going our own ways without wanting to wake up next to her, to hold her, run my fingers across her lips, watch her smile.
Can you just be friends with someone you loved without it tearing you up? Or is it better to let go and walk away, holding the memories close...