“There ain't no way you can hold onto something that wants to go, you understand? You can only love what you got while you got it.” - Kate DiCamillo
i think of him still. or rather, like the selfish creature that i am, i think of me first. i remember the pink sunsets, salt clinging to the blonde hair on my arms, and the peace in my heart that was so complete it had a heartbeat of its own. even now, sitting in a coffeeshop thousands of miles, two oceans and a continent away, i can see him as clearly as if he was standing beside me still. i can hear his voice, see his smile and liquid-brown eyes; i can feel the rough callouses on his long-fingered hands and the soft brown skin of his chest.
i was in love.
or so i thought.
because now, several years later, we aren’t together, he and i. and yet i get into arguments with myself, usually late at night when i’m alone, and i ask myself a hundred times in just as many different ways, if i truly loved him then… and honestly, if i still love him now. we have both physically moved on, but there is a part of me that can’t seem to let go. there’s a part of me that tightly clings to those soft, tropical afternoons at his little house, and the windy mornings paddling together in crystal clear water at the ancient feet of soaring cliffs.
but, i remind myself, i have a new love now. a new, good love. a kind man who adores me.
but, i am interrupted by the Eeyore that lives in my head, everything in my life pales in comparison to those two and a half years on that tiny jewel of a Pacific island. my memories of him pain me like a thorn stuck in my foot that i just cannot get out. even the happy rememberings have turned sour in the churning of my sleepless ego. this combination of intense longing for what was and distrust of what is makes me irritable, unavailable, and cold. this non-acceptance of my current life shuts people out and locks me in. this… wanting him is tearing me apart.
but if i am going to be completely honest with myself (which i am because i have been in pain long enough) i have to say i think this suffering i go through has less to do with him, and more to do with how i felt about my life and about myself when i lived on kauai. yes, i had beautiful memories with him that are completely unique and will never be repeated. it’s not every day that you hold hands while swimming with sea turtles, or kayak out to a deserted beach as humpback whales breach in glittering arcs of seawater and rainbow fragments.
he was wonderful, and we were beautiful (though ultimately tragic and toxic) together.
but this longing i feel isn’t because of him. what i am truly longing for is innocence and an open heart again. i long for the sense of adventure and purpose that marked my life on kauai. i miss walking alone by the sea and feeling as if i was exactly where i was supposed to be. i miss feeling purposeful and safe and happy and bright. i miss living a life that i chose out of love and faith, instead of what my life has seemed to turn into - a life i have chosen out of a sense of fear and duty.
but actually this is such a comforting realization for me… to see that what i am really longing for is not a fallible, unpredictable human like my ex-boyfriend. he is not what i need to feel good again.
what i need is to look around me, smile, and let myself have an open, free heart again, just like the free-spirited teenager i was not so long ago in hawaii. because really it doesn’t matter whether i’m in the Alcatraz prison or Florida or Hawaii or Russia, what matters is my attitude and perspective on myself and the way i’m living my life. what matters is that i stop making decisions based on what i think i should be doing and instead make my choices based on what makes me happy and full and bright.
my memories of he and i are still clear within me, though i think of them less and less the more i focus on the beauty and uniqueness of my present life. the more i am in the moment, the less pain i allow my past to create within me, and it ceases to matter whether i am still “in love” with him or not. what matters is that i create a life worth living and loving and remembering.