I see you and it is like a rainy day in September; totally predictable, yet still awful and shocking all at once. I have no idea what to say and it's like somebody shut off my ability to form a coherent sentence, and you have seen me and you are walking towards me and I've forgotten my own name because you are smiling just how you used to. I don't know where to look. I am afraid that if I look into your eyes I will drown in them and it is already far too late. I can't take my eyes off of you, and I kick myself for it.
It has been nearly four months. Three months, two weeks and five days, if you want to be exact about it, and it's almost become normal not to see you or want you or talk to you. I have forgotten how we work- forgotten the old confidence that I used to have to protect myself from you, and how could that be possible? It was the single defining feature of our fragmented, dysfunctional friendship and I do not know how to employ it anymore, don't know which facade to put on. I have forgotten you and I feel sheepishly guilty because you are not as intimidating as I am currently finding you, and you probably feel lost and alone and you seem genuinely happy to see me.
I am beyond euphoric to see you.
You look good, as good as you ever did, and it surprises me that I still can't stop myself from looking you up and down and trying to memorise every part. I realise that I have built you up in my head, that every moment this past week that I have allowed myself to think of you has been tainted by a faint sense of inferiority, a resentment that you left me. And I know as soon as you catch my eyes and grin that it is imperative that I stand and move and come to let you kiss me and hold me regardless of who is watching because if I don't I will think about it over and over until I see you next and I have no idea when that will be.
We are friends, still, but barely. I don't know how to explain you to my new friends, and it is easy by now to pretend that you don't exist at all, because it's what I've been doing, and I haven't said that I miss you because I am afraid of how much I do, how much I will begin to obsess if I acknowledge that I still think about you all the time. We are friends, is all, but there is no 'just' about it. It is hard to imagine valuing something more than your friendship because every second I had it I was terrified that you'd take it away- I actually believed you could do that to me and I couldn't stop it. But you meant so much to me and seeing you makes me catch my breath.
The second you walk in I can't see anybody else.
You look for me, and I am so pleased about it, so secretly glad that you are singling me out, that you have missed me, at least a little. And somewhere in the back of my mind I panic that my skin is not as flawless and my hair is not straight and I've probably gained about ten pounds, but you just look at me and I realise that you don't see any of it. You see straight through me, the way you always did, and it makes me feel so vulnerable, but you begin to talk and I realise that you are vulnerable too, and it makes me want to hug you again but I restrain myself. You gain confidence as you do it and suddenly I slip back into routine and we're talking and it's so damn strange, because we haven't made small talk with each other, not ever, and suddenly we're chatting about our new lives without each other as if it isn't something that contributed to me spiralling and isn't something he cried over, or didn't want to end. It is so easy to pretend with you because I know that you are pretending too.
It is so surreal and I don't ever want it to end.
But you do.
And you come to say goodbye to me and we both pretend that it's a see you later. And I make some lame joke and you pretend it's funny, but you've never done that before, and for a second you look at me and I want to ask if you regret it, but it isn't the right time or the right place. And eventually you walk away and although it'd make a perfect poetic ending for me to watch you walk away I can't quite bring myself to.
I know that it will be a while before we meet again. Every time you say goodbye I steel myself for the finality in your voice, prepare for it to be the last time, the forever. And then out of the blue you will let me know you are thinking of me or I will cave and contact you, but either way it does not reconcile us. Our fleeting moments are short-lived homecomings and I will not let you see how much it affects me, because I have never wanted you to see me as weak. I will not let anybody feel sorry for me over you and I will not let anybody wonder what I'm making all the fuss about. I will not mention it again til now.
So, yes, I let you go. I don't ask when I will see you again and I don't cry or make a scene. I don't tell you I am jealous when you start talking to her and I don't tell you how proud I am of what you have become. I reign it all in.
And then I come home and write it all down, not to be forgotten, not for you to read.
I write it because a very good friend has told me lately that I have come full circle, that I have become exactly who I was two years ago.
And suddenly, writing this, I feel like he is right.
And I wish I could travel back in time.