We have yet to travel the world, and our savings for the Round the World ticket is in dire straits. But we’re driven and passionate, and you can trust that our ten-year plan to climb Mount Everest will happen.
I think it’s important I remember that, too.
I had an aunt named Rose.
She was lively and determined. She hated people who were fake, in fact, anything that was fake. She, like me, had no filter, and if she’d ever thought twice before she spoke, she would never have said anything at all. She was brutally honest, and if she thought it or felt it, she said it. I’m sure you’ll agree that this kind of honesty doesn’t always go down well. As human beings, we ask for the truth but are often angered when we get what it is we asked for. However, this never daunted Rose. In fact it’s her words that I remember most.
My aunt Rose loved fiercely. She loved her friends, and her family with a fire that burnt strong and true. I remember she once told me, with a mischievous little smile, that if I married for love, I’d be materially poor. If I married for money, I’d be emotionally poor. And if I married a man with a foot fetish, I’d have the best in footwear that money could buy. The final bit was a fact she’d learnt from first hand experience, and a memory which always left us in a fit of giggles. But I know Rose married for love, and spent thirty years of married life filled with happiness as a result of it. And I know that I, too, could never marry for anything other than love – because Rose got it, and made me see, that if you found love – the real long lasting stuff – there’s a lot of other things you can do without.
My aunt Rose wasn’t happy all of the time. She had a life that wavered tempestuously and often found ways of kicking her when she was down. But I don’t have a single memory of her in which that sparkle in her eye didn’t grow to become a grin on her face, as she cooked up some new form of mischief with which to astound people. Whilst her body, as all our bodies, changed with age, her heart remained as youthful as ever. My aunt Rose never found herself out of place with young people, because the one thing she was always up for was fun!
I had an aunt named Rose, who passed away yesterday. I prayed for those she’d left behind, and I prayed for her – but some part of me knew she’d already found her way up to the angels in Heaven. She’d been reunited with her own mother, and her daughter, and was already causing havoc with the celestial beings around her. In my heart I knew she had begun to look down on each of us with the wisdom and love she’d always shared with me during each of our meetings. And I knew she’d always find a way to ensure her presence was still felt – in the final rays of the sun as it sets, and the ever-rolling waves of the ocean against the shore.
I had an aunt named Rose, who I am blessed and proud to say I knew.
I will carry her heart in mine. I will renew my zest for life, and resolve to live as lovingly and honestly as Rose did, never growing too old for a little fun and a good giggle.
I will never forget the words that she gave me on every occasion that we shared.
And I will never forget Rose, and her mischievous smile, and the twinkle in her youthful eyes…
I’m not crazy.
I know I might come across that way, and trust me, I don’t mean to. I’ll explain. My friends have always laughed about the fact that my mind never stops, and often the end result is that I’ll come out with very bizarre statements that frequently have very little to do with anything we’ve been discussing. At all. But in my head, I made the transitions, the connections that lead me to that point. And just because I didn’t say all of it out loud, doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense… To me, anyway. Point is, I may have done that with ‘us’… Made the transitions and connections in my head and heart, that lead me to the point where I knew I liked you. So whilst I said it out loud, you were still several steps behind me, wondering how on Earth I’d ended up where I did. So, believe me when I say I’m not crazy. I just like you.
I will miss you.
I know it’s a really small statement to make, but people don’t say it enough – especially when it is exactly what they’re feeling. I think of everything we’ve shared, and how I went and messed it all up – because let’s be honest, I did a bit – and I have only one clear emotion (I refuse to ever regret anything) and that is that I will miss you. Time will heal us both. We will move on. In a few months, perhaps a year, I’ll find someone who’ll make me laugh and I’ll start to like him, instead. But I can guarantee this – I will miss you. I may not feel it every moment of every day, but there’ll be moments in each day – lots at first, and less with time. Perhaps a song will come on, or I’ll come across a line in a book that reminds me of you. Perhaps I’ll play that game we always used to play where we’d open a book and read the first line our eyes fell on as the answer to the questions of the world… Point is, I will miss you.
I didn’t mean to make a mess of everything.
It’d be alright, I think, if it had been the first time this time. But it wasn’t. And the more you seemed to point out where I was falling short, the shorter I seemed to fall. I genuinely don’t know if it’s just me who learns by making mistakes, but I seem to have made almost every mistake imaginable. And then I just make more. The first time, I got scared and ran away. And I thought you’d never forgive me for it. Then you got scared and ran away, and I thought I’d never forgive you. Then we forgave each other and seemed to launch into a whole new exciting and potential-filled phase… Until you ran away. Again. This time, however, I have to forgive you. Because you only ran, when I chased you.
I believed you.
I have this stupid habit where I believe people – I’ve researched cures for it, but there don’t seem to be any that don’t involve being a 99-year-old spinster with 17 cats whose fluent in cynicism. Not a great look for me. So, I believed you when you told me how important I was to you. And when you said we’d be friends for life in the very least, and that you did have feelings for me, it just wasn’t the right time… Well, I believed it all. I drank it up. I was onboard – hook, line and sinker! Even now, I’m not entirely certain that I don’t still believe you… I know. I’m a bit of a sucker for punishment.
Just that… I’m sorry.
On Monday, I’m going away. I don’t know how long for. I mean, I do actually have to come back – I’m unfortunately tied to various commitments that begin again in July, so disappearing into the wide world isn’t an option, just yet. But on Monday, I’ll go and I may come back after a week. Or I may not. Perhaps I’ll come back in a month. Who knows. And whilst I don’t know how long I’m going away for, or even where I may end up on my journey, I can tell you why I’m going…
I’m going away because if you asked me to stay, I would. I’d cancel my flight, get into your car, drive to your house, snuggle up on the couch with you, and stay. I would give up my adventure for you. And that’s the best reason I can think of not to. Whilst this may not make much sense, there is a point. Somewhere.. In all of my past relationships, I’ve given. I’ve given up things; I’ve given up myself; and my time and my dreams. I’ve given and given and given. And when it ended, I discovered, to my horror, I’d given so much that I had nothing left. I had given up pieces of my heart, my ‘ness’. So, I had to rebuild everything from scratch. And when I began this process of rebuilding, eight months ago, I decided never to deny myself something I wanted, for someone else who can’t give you a good enough reason to do. So, what I want right now, is to go on my adventure. But I can’t pretend that I don’t want you to want me to stay, either.
I’m going because if I stay, I will break us. I have never been very good at the whole relationships thing. It takes me a long time to love, yet when I do, I do so with a love that transcends gaps in distance, and lifestyle, and even logic. When I love, I am dedicated and hopeful. Every sign you give me – whether it’s intended or not – is one more sign for me to fall even more for you. And I know we said we’d just be friends and see where things went, but you didn’t help me when you kissed me. I mean, I have quite a few friends and you’re the only one that kisses me… So, naturally, I believed it meant more than it did. And when you didn’t make an effort to see me, in the build up to my leaving, well, it didn’t make sense to my head, or my heart. So, instead of ruining us by asking you a thousand questions so I can know exactly where I stand, I’m leaving.
I wish I felt as strong and brave as some people say I’m being. To walk away from someone you care about, and not only to walk away, but to hop on a plane and end up on the other side of the country… Well, apparently that takes some guts. But if I’m honest, and I do try to be, it doesn’t feel like bravery. Because when I get off of the train at the airport, I’ll hope you’re standing there. When I line up to check-in for my flight, I’ll listen out for your voice speaking my name, asking me to turn around and stay with you. And when I go through the gates, a hundred Romantic Comedy airport scenes will inspire my heart to beat faster as I walk slowly to the metal bird that promises to take me away from you, and any hope that I still might have…
Once I’ve gone, I’ll still think of you. I’ll hope that maybe you’ll think of me, too. Maybe, once I’ve gone, you’ll miss me. Maybe you’ll see who I am, and what I mean to you… Or maybe you won’t. And we’ll just grow further apart, until one day we’re nothing but the odd Facebook status update chanced upon on a normal Thursday afternoon. A flicker of recognition will cross your face as my name registers something to your brain; and a skipped heartbeat will jolt my heart as it recalls the feelings I felt for you…
So, I’m going away. But, dammit, I wish you’d ask me to stay.