"Sometimes at night, I see their faces, I feel the traces they left on my soul. Those are the memories that make me a wealthy soul." -Bob Seger
He had always asked me, "Where were you five years ago??" Every time, I would smile, sometimes replying, "I don't know, I was waiting for you." But no matter how tight I closed my eyes and wished, five years before, I couldn't go back, and he hadn't been there. Still I couldn't help but imagine how it might have turned out if we had met five years earlier.
Valentine's Day that year, was the first and last time that anyone had ever made me feel truly special. He'd come down early that day to spend a few hours before work like he often did. When I answered the door, he greeted me with the same sweet intensity that I had I had come to know from him, the vibrant smile and in his hand a decorative gift bag which he handed to me.
"Happy Valentine's Day." he said, staring into my eyes.
I hugged him tightly and said, "You didn't have to do that! I wasn't expecting anything at all, just seeing you was more than enough..."
"Open it!" He urged me.
We sit down on the living room couch, side by side and he watches as I open the card. It was simple enough, with hearts and cursive text on the front and it read 'So Glad We're Friends... (Happy Valentine's Day)." And then on the inside he wrote, "From Me To You, Z".
Very simple, yet unspoken. His actions said so much more than the card even needed to. For one thing, simply him being there taking any time out of a day like Valentine's Day was something he knew he didn't have to do. I would've never expected that, but then he gave me a gift that was more symbolic and caring than I had ever been given. It wasn't chocolate, it wasn't roses. I slid the card back into it's envelope and reached in the bag and pulled out a little ceramic angel, it was simple and sweet in a 'sleeping' stance with its arms folded around its knees, its hair and wings brushed in gold, and it had a tiny little bouquet of baby's breath attached.
I looked up into his eyes, quite moved and proclaimed. "I love it... it's beautiful!"
"It's you. When I saw it, to me that's you." He said, squeezing my hand, we kissed and remained embraced for a few moments.
"Nobody's ever given me anything on Valentine's Day, well except my Dad. He always gave my mom and me a card and box of chocolates. This is the first time Valentine's Day has ever felt special to me... I'll never forget it... ever."
Our days and moments together came and went like a breeze combing through summer heat. Looking back, I wish for the ability to freeze time.
It was a night like any other work night. Ironically, I was making proofs just the same as I was when he first informed me that he 'knew someone who was so enchanted with me'. I saw him approaching, and felt the same sweet butterflies that I always did whenever he was near me.
He moved up to me slowly, and I sensed a painful air about him. Nearly arm-to-arm and with a sorrowful whisper, he announced. "I can't do this anymore."
I continued my proofs, still looking down. Tears began collecting behind my eyeballs, and a lump formed in my throat. I was silent for a few minutes... he remained by my side.
I finally managed to choke out a soft, "Why?" and tried to look at his eyes, but I couldn't.
"You're so special to me, and you will always be so special to me. But this, it isn't right and I just can't continue. It's tearing me apart, and it's not fair to you, me, or my family... I just can't anymore."
I truly did not want to hurt him or cause him any additional pain because I knew how hard it was, and I didn't think he was being insincere or using me. I couldn't muster up many words, and didn't quite know what to say... I was utterly miserable on the inside but I managed to try and smile. I looked at him, smiling through the tears that I was so desperately trying to hold back.
I nodded and whispered. "Alright. I understand."
He asked me if I was sure I'd be o.k... what was I going to say? I tried my best to put up the brave face and be a lady to him. The whole time we were together I took his best interest at heart and called myself 'looking after him' so that he wouldn't do anything to mess his life up... Maybe I did too much of it, maybe if I hadn't been so concerned and conscious, trying to keep him from getting into trouble, I wouldn't have lost him.
But as I said before, I didn't want him at the cost of pain to anyone else or the loss of his family. I was in love with him, and had no desire to cause him hurt or pain. Not that it wasn't extremely hard for me to stop wanting to be with him, or to stop needing to talk to him and hear his voice. He did the best he could at the time, letting me down easy-maybe even letting himself down easy, I don't know.
We still talked, but he was trying to distance himself-I could barely deal with it. I eventually had to find a new job, and try to move on because I couldn't live with myself, work there knowing how things had to be... could not live with the reality that we could not have any type of relationship.
"I have tried, but I just can't be your friend." he had said.
My new job was working at the casino, and I still couldn't stop myself from trying to meet up with him on his way home because I knew about what time he passed through and we'd stop and sit in my car and talk for a few minutes here and there. Eventually, that ended too.
I didn't mean to make it agonizing, I feel like he ended up hating me. It was my worst fear that he might end up regretting that he ever knew me, or worse yet that he'd regret "us". I guess I'll never know how he felt, as he eventually cut himself off from me completely.
My self esteem was at an all time low, and it was this period of my life I made some of the worst decisions that I could've ever made. I entered into a nightmarish relationship that was worse for me than anything anyone could dream. It was a black hole in my life that I will forever regret, but that's another story entirely.
Do I blame Z? I don't want to blame him, he did what he had to do although I wish that he hadn't treated me like a "mistake" in the end, and could've remained my friend. There are just some parts of Life that we simply aren't meant to understand I guess.
Z gave me his music, he showed me his soul, but he took a big part of me with him when he went away. There were moments of supreme ecstasy, and moments when I thought my heart was breaking. But I held on and I think part of my heart always will. I'm not sure why, maybe because nothing else was ever so strong or perfect to me.
I wouldn't have missed it for the world.
From Me to You, Z... I'll never forget...
"Well, she's walking through the clouds,
With a circus mind that's running wild,
Butterflies and Zebras,
And Moonbeams and fairy tales.
That's all she ever thinks about.
Riding with the wind.
When I'm sad, she comes to me,
With a thousand smiles she gives to me free.
It's alright, she says it's alright,
Take anything you want from me,
Fly on little wing."
Butterflies Part I
Butterflies Part II
Butterflies Part III
Butterflies Part IV