Is there some kind of requirement that every couple has to “take a break” at least once? We fought bitterly months ago; I slept on the sofa that night because there were no immediate flights back to my city; and I left you early without saying good-bye, taking my toothbrush from your bathroom as though to indicate that I was done with you, that I wouldn’t be coming back, so mail me all my clothes and books and cooking things, okay, thanks, bye.
I confess I sat in my room when I’d arrived back in my city, still wearing the clothes from the night before, the smell of airports and airplane and subways on me. I wanted to wash the stink of everything messy off me, but, for some reason, that felt permanent, like I’d be admitting defeat, so I sat and waited for you to call, to e-mail, to do anything that hinted at a desire to mend bridges because I was determined to sit and wait until you made the first move. It was a stubbornness that started out weak then hardened as the hours ticked painfully by and all I had from you was silence, and then hours became days became weeks became months.
Did I get over you in that time? No, but maybe I started to forget. Maybe I convinced myself I’d started to forget. Maybe I went through all the motions of moving on in hopes that I’d start to believe it, too.
But, when I ran into you today at the bookstore, I felt it all come back, the memories, the feelings, the good times. I’d forgotten why I’d been so angry with you that night, what exactly it was we’d fought over before we separated, too furious with the other to speak, to want to do anything but allow our inaction to act as a natural ending point to what we once were, and I admit I almost walked away before you could say anything, but I didn’t. You didn’t beat around the bush any, still your usual direct self, and said you’d flown in to see me but that you weren’t sure what you should do because it’d been so long and we’d left so much up in the air, but, hey, here we were, maybe if I had time, we could go to the café across the street and get coffee and muffins like we used to?
I turned you down, though, love, and it was possibly one of the harder things I’ve done in my life. I could see the disappointment in your eyes, maybe even regret, but I smiled at you, told you I’d give you a call later, and wished you well and left you there, hurriedly walking out without looking back once. Do I regret that? To be quite honest, I can’t quite say, but I still have your phone number, still have you on speed dial, but what I need right now is a little more time to be honest with myself after so many months passed in numb denial, so be patient, love, and maybe we’ll be able to move on together again.