I said goodbye once. It had to be done for it was the right thing to do. You were far away and unavailable. Marriage, a new baby. You led a different life. And as much as I still longed to see you, and be with you (really be with you), it was time to close that chapter of my life. For I had to move on. You were no longer available, no longer unattached. It was only a correspondence, and yet, it was also more than that. It was intimate. I loved it, of course I did. And I wanted you. But it was also wrong. You had a family of your own. I had to carve my own life without you in it although you were never really in it from the very beginning for you were always so far away. So maybe after a while, it just became a fantasy, and fantasies never die, do they, for they can live forever if we allow them to.

Now it seems that I had to find you again in order to say goodbye ... again. A chapter of my life was closed the other time. But not the entire book. For there was a whole book about you, an entire book about you that consumed my young life at one point. And the book was mainly filled with the daydreams and desires of a naive young woman looking for love.

My relationships with the men that I actually met and spent time with were brief relationships and didn't go very well either. It seemed that I was intent on rushing things, bringing it to a physical relationship too soon, wanting that intimacy, wanting ... what, I don't know. So those relationships were obviously doomed to fail. Maybe the friendship with you was the first of my failed relationships. Even though it was only on paper, it was still a friendship. And I managed to ruin even that.

You were always there ... at the back of my mind. Always wondering how you were doing, what you were doing. And if you were happy. For you deserved every happiness in the world. Why wouldn't I want to wish you happiness? Why wouldn't I want to wish anyone happiness?

I once confided in my cousin that I told you everything. I told A to my mother, I told B to my cousin, and I told C to someone else. But I told ABC to you. ABC and all the way to Z. It was easy. You made it easy. Again, perhaps it was easier on paper, telling one's deepest thoughts and feelings to someone far away, someone that you couldn't see. Just like it's easy for me now to write all this down, knowing that I can't see anybody else, and that they can't see me. Maybe that's why I communicated better in writing. It was more revealing but less threatening.

And I think you once told me that you knew me better than my own family did. I remember that I initially bristled at your words. But later I realised that you did know me better than anyone else for I shared so much with you. You were always so positive, so sure of yourself. I was never that way, was I, and never could be that way. But you always seemed a bit of a mystery to me. It was such a long time ago and perhaps doesn't even bear talking about it now. But still I wonder about you because it was a wonderful time, an anxious time, and a time of self-discovery.

You were my first love. Plain and simple. You awakened something in me but nothing really came of it. When I fell for the priest, the sexual awakening was deeper and more intense because he was actually there, in person, in the flesh. And I needed that. It was also about embracing my femininity, discovering or rediscovering that part of me that had been repressed for some time. Even though it wasn't reciprocated (and thank goodness it wasn't reciprocated although, at the time, I admit I wanted something), it was still powerful as it turned my world upside-down. It was a confusing period of my life, wonderful and painful, yet it had to happen, I think, for it opened a door that had been closed for the longest time.

Maybe all of the above can be encapsulated in this verse:

"There is a curious paradox
that no one can explain.
Who understands the secret
of the reaping of the grain?
Who understands why Spring is born
out of Winter's labouring pain?
Or why we all must die a bit
before we grow again."

(from "The Fantasticks,"
book by Tom Jones)

I've always been rather long-winded, taking the long way home instead of coming straight to the point. Maybe it's because I don't always know what the point is and I need to talk it out, mulling it over and over in my head, searching, feeling my way around, before I know what it is that I really want to say.

And even after finally saying what I thought I wanted to say, I sometimes wonder if I should have said it at all, or did I say enough, or perhaps I even said too much.

It is "not knowing what might have been" that keeps the book opened. I don't know who you are anymore and maybe I never really knew who you were then either.

And even after having said goodbye - a second time - thinking, "This is it," it's final, it's goodbye forever, I know that I will still think fondly of you every once in a while. No one forgets a first love, so they say. I'm finding that out to be true. It was a different kind of "first love" for me as it was reaching out across the miles to another. And there's a part of me that still sometimes wonders if you ever loved me. You said you did. And if you did, maybe I was just one of several loves in your life that came and went. And maybe I was never as special as I thought, or hoped, I was. Maybe I just remember it differently. That could very well be for we know what a romantic imagination I had all those years ago.

You once wrote, "You are a beautiful person." I even wrote in my diary that you underlined the word "beautiful." You later wrote, "I'm here for you. Let yourself know that." And some time after that, I found out that you had gotten married.

I will never know for maybe I was not supposed to know for maybe it was not supposed to happen. (I don't believe that's good grammar but that's okay.)

Old friends sometimes contacted each other, even after years of separation. I wanted to do the same, not knowing what the result would be, and certainly not prepared for what actually happened. And I wondered if you still cared, even a little bit. Or maybe you're now indifferent. Against my better judgement, I opened Pandora's box and I paid a price for it. Eager and curious. My heart ruled my head and that's not always a good thing.

People do change, and grow, even grow up. We're all constantly evolving. And even though I don't know who you are anymore, I still wish you all the best. Always. Not just because I would wish the same to anyone else, but because it is you, a gentle, slightly aching, and fond memory that resides at the very furthest corners of my mind. The book of You has been placed on that mental bookshelf where it will once again gather dust and cobwebs. I recently took the book from its resting place for a reason. I'm still not completely sure what that reason was. Unfinished business, perhaps. Remembering things that you said or wrote, even from way back as twenty years ago. I can't forget you, you know. I never will. I'm silly that way.

If I do love you still, it is a girlish love from a long time ago. A much different time. It was hidden, and for a while, uncertain, and never had a chance to mature. Am I being silly again? Perhaps. It is also rather charming, but not very wise. What is love, anyway? What does it mean to be in love if there are those who say that we can't fall out of love? There is only love then, isn't there? I'm not sure why I said that. But it had to be said.

The younger woman in me remembers you with affection. The older woman that I am realises that she doesn't know who you are anymore. You see, even I had some more growing up to do. And to grow again, I had to die inside a little. No, not being melodramatic, not at all. Just being realistic.

What else is left? Nothing, I suppose, except to wish you well.

All the best to you. Always.


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