Your Ex-Lover Is Dead | Part 2 | Love
Jacket - Mackage for Aritzia
Jumpsuit - Twig
Sneakers - Reebok
I saw a flash of him out of the corner of my eye as I walked by the front window of the restaurant; a small and cozy French Bistro. Despite the fact that I had already had a pint with a few girlfriends to calm my nerves, I didn’t want to look up just yet, I was still too anxious. I opened the doors, took a deep breath and made my way towards him. I finally mustered enough courage to lift my eyes to meet his as he got up from the stool he was sitting on and turned to face me. He enthralled me instantly. He was tall, dark, handsome and sweet with a quirky sense of humour that made me laugh in a way I hadn’t laughed for years. Yes, I thought. Yes.
The bartender wandered over every half hour or so to ask us if we wanted another drink. I said yes every time until I realized we had been sitting at the bar for four hours, the bistro was nearly empty and my mind was foggy from the drinks. We left the warmth of the restaurant and walked out into the cold November night. I slipped my hand into his as if I had done it a million times before but when he kissed me I had to pull back. I’m not sure if my face ever let on, but I was confused, maybe even startled, because no kiss had ever felt the way that kiss felt. It wasn’t mundane or everyday; it was extraordinary. I searched his face for a second, hopeful for a clue that he felt the same way.
Everything changed after that night. I was happy in a way I had never been before. I felt beautiful, loved, supported and empowered. Obstacles seemed to shrink with him by my side. I had always been and continue to be capable of handling things on my own but it was a relief not to have to anymore. Partnership is a powerful thing but, while I was sure he was the one I wanted by my side during the hard times, he didn’t feel the same way about me. So when life dealt him a cruel and tragic hand, our relationship came to an abrupt end. In an instant, I went from feeling happier than I ever had before to feeling emptier than I ever thought possible.
We hadn’t spoken in months but I knew he was in a world of pain. He lay down beside me and put his head on my chest. Something he had done so many times before; but this time it was different. One of the things I had missed most about him was the way he always made me feel so small and safe in his arms. But that night he was the one who felt small. His shirt smelled musty, his bedroom was littered with opened and half empty bottles of alcohol, his hair was disheveled, and his eyes were dead. His pain was mine and as we lay there I couldn’t think of a single thing I wouldn’t be willing to do to take it away. That’s when I knew I loved him. It wasn’t the glittering, shiny moment I was told it was supposed to be. It was dark, sad and messy but it was so very real.
As he slept, I lay there as wide-awake as I had ever been toying with a feeling I had never felt before. I was in love but I was also in trouble. Big trouble. This was my first and only encounter to date with the four letter word I had heard so much about and it was no fairy tale- less Disney, more Shakespeare.
That spring, I would go on to spend two more nights in his bed, countless hours drafting texts that would go unanswered and many torturous days playing out conversations that would never happen before he finally pulled the plug and ended our relationship for good. The summer would bring a number of painful run-ins and, in the fall, as a result of our final encounter, which involved a leggy brunette and his refusal to acknowledge my existence, I experienced a sadness so viscerally painful it shocked me. That winter, a series of disappointing events broke my trust in him forever and, without trust, the dwindling hope I had clung to for our reconciliation was dashed for good and I finally closed my heart to him.
Heartbreak was the star of my first love story but bliss played a key supporting role and sometimes, when I allow myself to replay our movie in my head, I think that maybe she stole the show. That’s how I know it was worth it. So very worth it.
I don’t know if he felt the same way as I did. I don’t know for sure why he let go. I don’t know why he refused to fight for us. I don’t know whether there were parts of me that were not enough for him or, rather, if there were parts of me that were too much for him. Thankfully, I don’t torture myself with these questions anymore because enough time has passed that the answers no longer matter.
At this point in my life, the experience of love is the real endgame. It’s enough. The rest is just a cherry on top of a sundae not every person has the opportunity to enjoy. I shared an experience that melded me with another human being in a completely novel way. It was one of the most significant and astonishing experiences of my life and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I am so grateful for what he gave me – the joy and the pain. He was my first guide into a new world that changed me in incredible ways.
Today, I am proud of my willingness to explore that world with him.
Today, I am proud of the fact that I fought as hard as I could to save that love.
Today, when I think about you, I smile.
Today, I wrote our story and my heart is full.
The Epilogue (yes, it exists)
I stared into the bathroom mirror of my favourite bar and assessed myself as I washed my hands. My eyes were always a dead give away; they told me I was still hurting. Beautiful girls flitted around me. Laughing, drinking and dancing. I could hear my girlfriend having a conversation in the hallway with a group of rowdy boys while she waited for me. I rolled my eyes and laughed, fixed my lipstick, tossed my hair and walked out to join her.
He was standing there with his friends. I lifted my eyes to meet his as I walked towards him. He enthralled me instantly. He was tall, blonde, handsome and sweet with a quiet confidence and calm energy that made me feel grounded.
Yes, I thought. Yes …