It felt important to go. Because to want the intimacy of a relationship is to accept the intimacy of breaking up.
It ends with your warm beer on the table between us--only half drunk, you having chosen your words carefully. We just weren’t a match, I say, trying to make it okay for you. Trying to make what feels slippery in our mouths, less so. You seem more terrified than I feel, and I really want to make this okay for you. We sit in silence for the length of a few beats before I suggest we leave. You don’t like your beer, no use in forcing you to drink it. We push back our chairs, barely looking one at the other, hugging uncomfortably. I walk west, you east.
I am not angry. Hurt yes, but not angry. I do not fault you. We love who we love.
What’s hard is that we cannot sit there for a moment longer. The promise of friendship as a thing belonging only to a future in which time has passed.
This hanging ellipses. This moment between discovery and something else. This passing of the time as strangers.
Days later over different beers you will use my words as a way of explanation. You will say “we just weren’t a match” and someone will relay this to me. But those weren’t your words, they were mine. And my heart will break, just a little, because that wasn’t my experience. Or, well, it was, at the very least, more complicated than that. And those were my words for you.
Perhaps there is more I should have said, sitting at that small table, warm, bad pub drinks between us. About doubt and how it is a thing that multiplies in the absence of a warm hand or the sound of a person’s laugh or the lines that ring our eyes. How it grows in silence and alone, under the unrelenting glare of others’ comments. How it is a nasty trick of fear.
And we were both so busy.
But it is not my job to convince a man to love me. It cannot be my job to convince a man to love me.
I was not in love with you. It’s really not like I was in love with you. It’s just that, every time you met me at my door I’d think, This is a man I like walking towards.
And that was not nothing.