There’s a saying. You know it. We all know it. If you love somebody, set them free. If they’re yours, they’ll come back to you. It they’re not, it was never meant to be in the first place. Or perhaps it’s: If you love something, set it free. If it’s meant to be, it will return. It could be something else, but whatever it is, it’s a stupid fucking saying. One of those pity maxims created by people who’re always on the other side of what they want, so they form some saying, some cliché, to justify for themselves why what they want isn’t around.
But perhaps at times you have to. Maybe sometimes someone is so lost, has done so much to you, that you have to let them go. You have to set them on their own, maybe that’s the only way that they’ll know. Know whether or not they truly love you. Know whether or not all that soul mate codshit they spit actually means something. Know whether or not they actually have it in them to do what they always say they will do.
And there’s a risk to everything. To everything.
There’s an inherent risk to the tiniest decision we make, whether it’s to make a left, walk a different track to work, to not apply for the certain job, to not walk up to that certain person at a bar, on the street, or even to wake up early, take the day as it comes. They are all stupid decisions, they all lead somewhere.
I’ve been in love with Mel since I can remember. It’s an odd feeling, an odd frame of reference. It has nothing to do with time. You connect with someone to such a degree that it doesn’t matter who came before and for what amount of time. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve known this new, exciting, fresh person for. It becomes seamless, a uniting, indiscernible from the rest. It just is.
For the past 3 plus years that’s how I’ve felt about her. I’ve said it to her many times. This is what it is. It doesn’t matter what we call it, how we define it, what we tell other people. It simply is what it is.
The opposite of that is, obviously, that it is not what it is not. Simple as that, right? Because no matter what it is, no matter what name you give it, not being in the same place creates a disconnect of sorts. You’re not there. It’s simple. You just aren’t fucking there. For the big things, yes, but for the tiny, miniscule, insignificant, meaningless things that end up being the alpha and omega of everything you are as a couple. Good nights and hellos and how was your days and whats goings ons and how are yous and what are you thinkings. All of those things, when compiled into a book or simple memory become the sum full of a relationship. And relationships are a zero sum game. How can they be anything but?
They say the opposite of love is hate. They say a lot of things. But the opposite of love is not hate. It’s indifference. Because sometimes it hurts so badly you have no choice but to shut part of yourself down, for no other reason than you simply have to.
I’m not indifferent to Mel; I never could be. But maybe the thing that has to be let go is me. Maybe I have to let myself go, let myself date other people. Maybe even fall in love again.
Because this, the way that it’s been, it just hurts. My head is sore and my heart’s perforated. I need aspirin, or Tylenol, or a Bayer for the soul. I need something.
I thought awhile ago that she would figure this thing out. But I think now that I was the one who didn’t know what I was talking about. Love, for me, can be like faith, or the closest thing to faith that I know. And when that is shaken, when proof is put before me that what I’ve believed in is not the same thing as I thought it was, what’s the point of acting like some religious zealot, some fervent political nonpartisan? Why not see what happens if I let go?
A few years ago I thought I had it all figured out. I was positive I knew where my life was heading, or at least my love life, and if you’re someone who prioritizes the important things by love and then friends and then work and then whatever else, that can feel like you’ve been handed the manual. A few years ago I had the answers.
Now I’m not so sure.