A planned goodbye

She asked me, "Is your trip for business or pleasure?" I looked up from my book and thought for a second. This woman in the seat next to me seemed nice and clearly wanting to chat, I responded, "Well first it will be for pleasure, but then it's actually a goodbye." She looked at me puzzled, and I continued, "I've been seeing this guy, and we are ending things between us this weekend. Going out the same way it began, on a weekend away". It was refreshing to have a say in the terms of a thing, I noted my ease in responding with such truth. Now, I had her attention. I mean who plans a break-up and then travels for a weekend getaway to do so? Well, me, but it wasn't really so much a normal break up, as it was an actual ending. As in, not to happen ever again. Like the end of a book that gets returned to the library, never to be seen again, but with words that will drip over your heart when you recall it. We even named it the "grand finale" like the series of events leading up to this weekend had been a sitcom end-of-an-era.

The whole relationship started a few months prior on a fun weekend away. We ran into each other, actually literally, and instantly had the recognition of one another like we had not just met. Our groups of friends started to interact, introductions and fun began. He and I disappeared from the world, existing at this moment as if in a bubble, floating briefly above the music and atmosphere. We flirted and then began to entangle ourselves in quite the weekend romance. The kind where without stating the terms you just know it is for this fun getaway. No pressure, no terms, no bills or family, no reality except this one, where there are no lies, unabashedly ourselves. The kind of interaction that leaves you fluctuating between saying, "Holy shit, is this how it's supposed to feel in a real romance? Or, does it only feel this way because there is no real life involved?!" Either way, it was like our souls had planned this little excursion and giggled as we tried to figure it out. I do believe that interactions between people often come down to a chemical level and this, this was my 'case-in-point'. I was speechless and full of sharing, excited and tingly, it felt magical.

We were swept up in the weekend, our friends pairing off and all of us together enjoying the city, dancing, eating, plenty of drinking, seemingly with no cares in the world. We bounced from pool to night club, restaurant to an excursion. We stepped out of reality, worry-free and soaking up the feeling of being really really alive.

As the weekend turned into hours and then minutes left, what was supposed to be a fun time - no strings - over a weekend where no real-life existed, it came to a close and left us feeling unfinished. We knew each other more intimately and honestly than some had ever gotten to know us, especially in the time we had. It was crazy the way his soul resonated with mine. The way we allowed each other the space to be exactly who we were, led us to know each other better than "normal". No masks. It was refreshing in a world of dating foes and woes.

We parted at the airport at a loss. No words captured the feelings we shared, but we knew how each other felt. We decided to let whatever was meant to happen, happen. Then, we didn't make it two days before needing to know we were both feeling the same way. And we were. We missed the shit out of each other. Neither of us was in a place to be more than we had been, but we also equally could not let go. Not just yet anyway. So we decided to stay in touch, see each other here and there, talking regularly, sharing life. Still not totally 'real-life' but it was something. We couldn't deny what we felt. It was an exciting and freeing couple of months of excursions and good times. I was and still am grateful for the experience.

We would meet in places that were midway to our long distance. We would share a few hours or days in that blissful space we created. We avoided all talk of responsibility and future wishes. We simply existed in each others company. We took full advantage of the hours we carved out of reality and escaped to. It was fun and free, for a while at least.

As life is though, not always what we want it to be, it eventually intruded into our escapades. The getaways started to mean something. The feelings began to turn into desires for more. Our intertwining here and there began to leave a painful absence in between. We could no longer separate the want for each other and the want for more. Sharing about our lives began to blur the lines. The warm spot where we once laid grew cold and temperamental. REAL life made it clear that even if we didn't want it to end, it needed to. And, as adults who care for each other, we decided to see it through. We weren't going to make it miserable, as often happens, in fact, we decided our experience should be celebrated. To show gratitude for the beauty and joy we shared.

So there I was flying to him, to be us one last time and seal the whole damn deal with a kiss goodbye. Honoring each other and what we had, and having fun as we did best. We agreed it should end, we knew neither of us wanted to test the long distance trials. We never intended for it to be more so we decided on damage control rather than to blow it to bits.

The weekend stood still in a way that only happens when you are really present. Time paused for our last time. Laughing, and dancing, and eating, and well, you know... all of the best-time-ever everything. And then, before we realized it, it was our last night. We had a romantic dinner, we were a couple among strangers that saw us together as if it were normal. But, nothing was normal now. We both became quiet, not in an "I don't know what to say" kind of way, but more like we both just got it. Feeling the exact same way, wishing we could run away or split our lives somehow. Our reality was meeting its end.

The next morning came and as I looked out over the ocean with peace in my heart, sad but happy. He asked me "How are you feeling?" and then as if he couldn't wait for my answer he blurted out, "I hate this, I don't want today to be here. And I know what we agreed, but..." his phone rang and he jumped up to get it as if he knew it was saving him from the rest of that sentence. Slowly, a tear ran down my cheek, Mumford and Sons song Thompson Square Park came on and I muttered, "Perfect timing," with a heart-full and slightly painful smile on my face. The lyrics couldn't have suited us more:

"I wanna hold you in the dark, one last time, just one last time. And oh babe, can you tell what's on my tongue? Can you guess that I'll be gone? With the twilight, with the twilight. But no flame burns forever, oh no you and I both know this all too well. And most don't even last the night. No, they don't, they say they don't."

It was as if the whole world knew this was hard enough and granted us a wave of peace from having to express ourselves about it. I was grateful for everything and I knew he felt the same. There was no room to confuse that with anything more. It was going to be what was meant, and I let go.

We said goodbye in a parking lot outside the airport an hour later. I gave him a quick smooch and said, "Be well. Do better in life, be the man I see in you". I jumped out of the truck and didn't look back like it had all just been for kicks. I walked away and it was over.

I often think of him, and how I fell in love with that experience, the freedom of it, the beauty of it. I send him some love out into the world, smiling at the flash of memories, and then I let it go. Like a balloon to the sky, if what I felt was real in any capacity, he gets it and that is enough for me.

I remember you fondly and will always treasure our time.

Tompkins Square Park

Mumford & Sons

Oh babe, meet me in Tompkins Square Park
I wanna hold you in the dark
One last time
Just one last time

And oh babe, can you tell what's on my tongue?
Can you guess that I'll be gone?
With the twilight
With the twilight

But no flame burns forever, oh no
You and I both know this all too well
And most don't even last the night
No they don't, they say they don't

Oh babe, I've never been so lost
I wanna hear you lie
One last time
Just one last time

But oh babe, I really wish you would not cry
I only ever told you one lie
When it could have been a thousand
It might as well have been a thousand

But no flame burns forever, oh no
You and I both know this all too well
And most don't even last the night
No they don't, they say they don't

And we can talk it round again girl
Round and round, round and round again
Or we could leave it out to die
Leave it out just leave it out

I never tried to trick you babe
I just tried to work it out
But I was swallowed up by doubt
If only things were black and white
'Cause I just want to hold you tight
Without holding back my mind
Without holding back my mind

But no flame burns forever, oh no
You and I both know this all too well
And most don't even last the night