I’m a hopeless romantic. Without love, I don’t think anything really matters. As I swipe right and left on Tinder and Bumble I can’t help but feel exhausted. Does this stuff actually work? I guess that would depend on what it is you’re looking for.
Then, I see someone from my past. He’s a guy that I honestly think could have been perfect for me if the timing had been right. I also am realistic enough to know that the damage has already been done, but it makes me think…
What would I say to people from my past if we saw each other now?
I wanted it to be you. We were kids, but it felt so real. I never broke rules before you. You ignited something inside of me by being the first guy to ever notice me. Snowstorms, Wendy’s, AE – your eyes were the prettiest shades of blue. You were funny and older boy cool. I cried when you asked me not to take away your highway shoes. I worried when you were at basics. I still have the letters you wrote to me. It was like the only air worth breathing. I never stop daydreaming about you. I prayed that you’d find happiness and peace. I prayed that God would keep you safe, even though you said you didn’t believe. I prayed God wouldn’t let you lose your sanity. I waited, holding my breath each time you’d leave. I prayed that each time wasn’t the last time. I made a trip home from New York City to spend 15 minutes with you outside of a Waterville bar. I remember thinking as you walked away that it would be the last time we’d speak because as I stood in front of you it was clear you were no longer the man I thought I knew. There’s not a Christmas that goes by when I don’t pray for happiness for you.
I wanted it to be you. You were the first of so many things. The first guy to drive me around in his super cool car. The first guy to try to make me feel like I was a part of his family. The first guy to listen to me. The first guy to tell me I was beautiful. The first and only guy to take me to a dance. The first person that wasn’t my parents to buy me a Valentine’s Day gift. The first guy to buy me flowers. The first guy to show me I was worthy. I loved your Mom, and still do. I see you brother and I smile at the beautiful family he’s created. I see you and your family and I feel happiness for you. You let me down so respectfully. I admire your kindness even in the difficult times. You said you didn’t want to be the reason I didn’t chase my larger than life dreams. You saw a caged bird, so you let her fly free. You were always the greatest to me.
I wanted it to be you. It started with a conversation over my cool shoes. You taught me that love does’t always come easily. You taught me how strong I could be, but you also brought out the worst in me. I can’t blame you for pursuing other things. We were young and reckless with ourselves and each other. I wanted to hate you so badly, but I have to thank you for giving me the final push I needed to just get up and leave. I dreamed of walking away so many times, but I needed that final push over the edge. Because of you, I left the land of pine trees to embrace a concrete jungle dream.
I wanted it to be you. I remember the first time I saw you. Your name was weird, but you were beautiful. It was a year of cat and mouse; an unrequited feeling that cut me deep. You had this lightness around you that made others feel alive. It was your vision of a world filled with peace and love that was so unique. Because of you I found a whole new version of myself and discovered a family in the lower east side. When you left that city for greener things I felt like the sun never shined on that pavement in the same way. It all got dark and cold and the world wasn’t the same. You’ve chased so many things and I admire from the corner quietly. You’re the kind of free I wish I could be.
I wanted it to be you. When I met you, I instantly thought you were going to be the end of me. You’re like kryptonite, dangerous but enticing. You were something I wanted, but I knew I shouldn’t need. Your eyes cut through me with a whole new wave of intensity, but your words could break my heart. I so desperately wanted it to be you. The demons inside me told me to stay, but the angels above me said to walk away. There’s a heaviness in you most can’t see, but you found me in my darkest places and cared for the damaged sides of me. I can never express how much your ability to see the beauty through my ugliness meant to me. Your vulnerability with me debilitates me. You’ll always be the most beautiful thing to me when I think of NYC.
I wanted it to be you. I am so sorry that you found me at the wrong time. I was too wounded to see the greatness we could be. You tried, relentlessly, but my walls were too high. My heart too shattered. My emotions too scattered on the floor. There were too many incomplete pieces, but I think I could have loved you. I wanted to love you. I wanted to be with you, but there were words I couldn’t bring myself to say. I was in too much pain. I discovered how much you cared a little too late. I see you with her and it stings. It’s the happiness I wish I could have given you, but she’s everything I wasn’t brave enough to be. I wish there were do-overs, but life doesn’t work out that way. You’re my one that got away.
I wanted it to be you. No, I was convinced it was you. I dreamed of you and my heart unfolded. Sweet Baby James and dancing in the moonlight; Love letters and all the places I had never been. The Cape. Road trips. 70’s. Lighthouses. Snow angels. Back decks and rain. DC. 30. Everything. Your smile. Your laughter. Your hand in mine – and your eyes staring at me like there was no place we would rather be – But deep down I doubted it could really be you. My head on your chest, my leg as your favorite head rest. I waited 29 years to fall in love, and in the end I realized that love alone is not enough. For 377 days I fought for us and for you. And after all the waters we swam through, how could I ever minimize you? All I wanted was for you to see yourself like I do. No regrets, but there is beauty in our breaking. I am free. I love you enough to Let It Be. Letting us go was the hardest part, but I refuse to harden this heart. I pray that you find your version of happy. I pray that joy makes you complete. I pray for you and I pray for me.
Retrospect is a cursed gift. Why is it so easy to say these things through a computer screen?
Regrets are not my thing. I make great efforts to avoid them. I am grateful for the heartbreaks. I am grateful for the journey, and I feel blessed for the lessons learned. I am grateful for the opportunities to say, “I wanted it to be you” because it will make me complete when I finally get to say, “Thank God, it’s you.”