I asked her how her best friend was doing.
“She’s my sister, not my best friend!”
She corrected. They are that close.
“She’s getting married.”
“Good for her! So, I’ll be your plus one?”
I asked, half-jokingly. I dislike weddings but I would show up just to see her dressed and dolled up and to spend a few moments with her.
Silence. That hesitant silence that supposedly precedes disappointment.
“I’ve decided I’m not going with a plus one. I’m going alone since I’ll be the best lady….. Erm, yeah.”
She waffled, as we walked and she avoided my gaze.
Something stirred in me then. I sensed that she would not be going alone. She would just not be going with me. I had been waiting for this day, when my suspicions would be confirmed: the one who got away has gotten away. She has moved on, as have I. Mostly. A part of me still refuses to let her go, curled around fragments of what we had like a deformed finger. For some reason, I am happy to hear this. It is expected that when an old flame’s flame burns for someone else, the one left behind, the jilted, the alone, will remain jealous and regretful. Inexplicably, I find myself past that, having left the what-ifs and the could-haves behind. I cannot remember when that happened and, boy, does it feel good! Maybe it is because for the first time I am in control of what I feel. I choose not to let her go completely, tethering myself to her with a delicate thread that only I can break.
As the day wore on, we slowed down and found a place to sit. I asked,
“Tell me about you. What’s good with you?”
, casually draping my legs over one of the supporting beams of the metal table we were sitting at and leaning back in the chair. The essence of cool. Ha ha.
“I’m seriously dating again.”
She said, looking furtively sideways for an almost-imperceptible moment. I waited for something to crumble inside me, but my pulse remained steady, only quickening when it, paradoxically, occurred to me that I was calm about the fact that the woman I had loved, and still loved, was being loved by someone else and was loving someone else. I felt like a stranger to myself. Where is the thudding, the longing, and the sadness that I was told to expect? Where is the regret and self-loathing that is supposed to wash over me?
I felt light and free of… something. What? The flapping birds in my chest, the ones that flapped for her, had been uncaged and only then did I notice the stillness within my now open heart. A slight breeze brought a whiff of the Chanel Allure Pour Femme that she wears in my direction. Her signature smell. I could die in her embrace, inhaling that fragrance and intoxicating myself to madness. Her allure, as it were. Knowing myself, I may never break the hold I have allowed her to have over me. It is eternal, in as far as we humans go. She is eternal. Through our shared and individual turmoils, she has somehow remained a constant, a beacon even, guiding me away from the often dark and rocky shores of myself from time to time.
As we bared ourselves to each other, I could not shake the feeling that I was somehow saying goodbye, more so to a part of myself. And, maybe, that is where the lightness came from, that something inside me that rested that day, or flew away. She seems happy and I am glad for her. We both promised, like we always do, to keep in touch better but that is a formality that we have no intention of seeing through. We always seem to say this grinning like the idiots we become in each other’s presence. It feels wonderful to have someone with whom I can share little lies with. For now, that will have to do.