HEART TO HEART
I stepped out for my evening constitutional (apparently, this is a dated term – I can imagine you smiling at this) today armed with a playlist on my phone and a set of comfortable earphones. You must remember that I have never been one for exercise; I am just following doctor’s orders. There is nothing serious, just a matter of preventative action. I remember how much you loved to run – maybe you still do? But I’ve never had the willpower. I’m not one of those people who can grit their teeth and get down to it if they have to; 15 minutes on the treadmill and I would be so bored that I would stop to prevent myself from screaming in frustration. Instead of spilling a hefty amount on a gym membership, I thought it would be more affordable to take brisk walks regularly in the small park near my home. The playlist should help; it’s full of wonderful music including my favourites. As you know, I am a huge fan of Sia, Linkin Park, and generic 80s, 90s and 00s rock and pop music.
I don’t know why I thought of you today. Maybe it was the music. Snow Patrol, probably, or maybe Lifehouse. Just Say Yes reminds me of you; it is strangely associated with you. And,
how often did we discuss Lifehouse’s music? On countless occasions!
I remember on a sunny spring day, you were doing the dishes in the kitchen and singing along to Hanging by a Moment. It’s funny how some inconsequential memories stay with a person. You probably don’t remember most of these instances. I suppose they meant more to me, and to you it was all simple conversations and fun times with a friend, nothing more. I can’t and I don’t blame you for that. Whatever it meant to you, it was a lifeline to me.
A few years back, I was having a really bad day. If I’m honest, it was more like a really bad couple of months, but that day in particular was hard. I was driving, drowned in misery and I thought of you. I missed you so much that it actually hurt. Melodramatic as this sound, it was true at that moment. And I wished, and I prayed with all my heart to hear from you so that I could pull myself out of that spiral. When I parked the car, my phone pinged. A message popped up on the screen. It was your message - a merciful miracle. Unbeknown to you, you reminded me of all my reasons to go on for myself.
I would not describe you as devastatingly handsome, that’s more Aaron Hotchner, in Criminal Minds, than it is you. Remember how annoying you used to find his character? You said he gave off a sense of trying too hard to be suave, and yet you thought Guy Pearce – Guy Pearce! – a reasonably attractive man. But then clearly, men and women have different perspectives on attractiveness. But this is not to say that you didn’t, that you don’t, have your merits. You were kind, humorous and cultured. I admired you for that. By being yourself, you inspired me to be a better version of myself, and to have hope.
It was small things. Little acts of kindness and consideration, and I found that I trusted you. Trusted you in that I knew you would never be malicious or intentionally hurt another. Seeing your conviction in your faith made me want to strengthen mine.
There was a dinner conversation once when you hilariously proclaimed “marriage is awesome” while I countered with “if you’re married to the right person.” You were full of hope. And I’d been holding on to so much anger and hurt for so long, I hadn’t thought it possible to feel any different, let alone want to be different.
I dreamed you asked me to marry you. Wishful thinking! It was always impossible. But I did want it to be true. So much so that when I met you with her, despite my outward friendliness and enthusiasm, I worried about schooling my expressions and holding back the tears. I was so relieved to make my escape to the café, and later I hurried off without a proper goodbye because I couldn’t bear it any longer. That night’s journey was the second train ride I spent crying as unobtrusively as possible.
Heartbreak is never easy; it is shattering. No one, and nothing, can prepare you for it. I spent the night sobbing into my pillow to Breaking Benjamin’s Until the End. The next morning was a little different. But I came to see that I did not resent her. You both deserved to be happy, especially since there hadn’t been anything between us. Just my hopes, just me reading things into your natural friendliness and kindness.
I suppose there isn’t much point to this, but as Sideny Carton muses in A Tale of Two Cities, “Since I knew you … I have had unformed ideas of striving afresh, beginning anew, shaking off sloth and sensuality, and fighting out the abandoned fight. A dream, all a dream, that ends in nothing, and leaves the sleeper where he lay down, but I wish you to know that you inspired it.” But as much as I wish for you to know it, I suspect you never will.
This is another letter that I shall not send. This is another letter composed in my head, part nostalgia, part healing, as I hasten along the jogging track to Viva La Vida by Coldplay under a lilac sky covered with neon orange and pink streaks.