Ugh, I have been ruminating since my last encounter with RJ and the note in the card he gave to me. He told me to wait to read it, probably so that he wouldn't have to deal with whatever fallout of emotions that may have come with it. I still don't know what to make of the time we spent in the coffee shop just before I drove out of town. I am sad and angry and relieved and disappointed.
A friend came to visit me the evening before I left Pittsburgh to give me a gift and note. It was very sweet, but what meant more to me was that she was checking in on how I was feeling. Her visit was so well timed. I just came home from dinner with another dear friend and my emotions were running high and brimming at the surface. I didn't know what to do with them. She asked me how I was feeling, and she was just so supportive and sweet. I told her how I was both excited and scared, thankful for the opportunity that was ahead and knowing that I will miss my friends in Pittsburgh.
My friend asked me if I had seen RJ. I told her no. She asked if I was planning on seeing him or if I wanted to see him. This was a conversation that I had with two other friends and I felt lost in trying to figure out what to do. I told her that I felt like he was hurt by my news of moving to Florida. It was a lot for me to take in and I still hadn't processed it all. Perhaps if we had more time, if we had another month, then it would have been easier. She asked me what I wanted. I told her that I did want to see RJ again before I left, but that I didn't know what I would say to him. I wouldn't want to meet with him and have it be yucky with mixed emotions and end poorly, especially since our last encounters had gone relatively well. Again, I just felt like I would just be sitting there and not knowing what to say. My friend said there was my answer. If I didn't have anything to say to him, that was okay. We hugged and I so appreciated her asking. RJ meant so much to me. I knew it would be difficult to leave Pittsburgh having lost someone in my life who I loved and thought was a great match. I felt better about not trying to force a moment and just letting things be.
Then RJ called me the next day just as the last of my stuff was being loaded onto the truck. He asked me when I was leaving and I told him as soon as everything was packed up. He seemed surprised. I guess I figured he was calling to see if it all fit and that he could officially let someone move into the apartment. Instead, RJ asked if we could meet. He was smart in realizing that coming to the apartment with my family there would not be a good idea. I suggested that we meet somewhere like a coffee shop and he liked that idea. I think his surprise was in that he called just in time and he almost missed the window of opportunity by ten minutes.
I was glad that RJ called me for one last visit before I left Pittsburgh. I did not want to be the one to ask. We met at Starbucks. RJ was sitting at a small round table by the window by the street. The sun washed over him with a blend of natural light and shadows within the shop that lent a familiar feel. It felt like home. It was reminiscent of his home without actually being in the space. The last time I was there was to clear out my belongings. His hair was just the right amount of messy. I paused and stood from a slight distance as he was writing in the card. He looked up and I asked him if he needed me to walk around the block to give him a minute to finish. He said no and scribbled the last of his words and sealed the envelope. RJ gave me the card as I sat down, but told me to open it later. He asked me if I wanted some tea and then got it for me.
When RJ returned, he seemed to have trouble looking at me and faced his body slightly away from me. I had to laugh a bit to myself because he was looking at me puzzled as I saw the wheels turning when he commented that there was something different about me. Wait for it...wait for it... RJ finally said that he thought my hair looked a little different. It is funny how guys can get so thrown by that kind of change. It's like they know something is different, but scramble to figure it out. Part of me was pleased because it seemed to mark distance and time apart from when we were together. It was almost a statement from me that I was moving on with my life. But that is somewhat of a front that I keep telling myself so that maybe I'll believe it, too. Then, I looked at RJ and noticed what was different about him. He looked like he had gained weight. It made me feel sad. There was no satisfaction in it. Sometimes people seem to make unflattering comments if their ex gains weight like it kind of makes them feel better, but it just made me feel sad. I felt sad because it probably meant that he wasn't really taking care of himself. It was unattractive to see the decline.
RJ carried most of the conversation, and he seemed to boast of his success. I wasn't sure if he was sharing because he felt like it was a safe time to do so because I now finally had a job and he wouldn't be rubbing it in or if he was over compensating in that we both have good things in our lives to be happy about. It was almost like he was trying to say it is all okay because if we each had good things in our careers, then somehow it would be easier to walk away. RJ was more attractive when he had less. And I felt he was missing the point. In trying to make it seem like it all worked out for each of us separately, it felt like he was trying to indirectly justify himself for breaking up with me. I felt like he was trying to make himself feel better, and sort of trying to make me feel better. When he mentioned his parents and how much they wondered about me and how I was doing, I wanted to gouge out my eyeballs. These were the people who told their son that they thought he should break up with me, and he did. I wanted to tell him off. I was frustrated that he could not have the faith to stay strong in our separate times of struggle so that we could share together in the good times ahead. I didn't feel like celebrating our separate good fortunes.
But I tried to keep an open mind and take in what was most likely my last time with him. As he continued, I kind of started tuning him out in what he was saying. We both seemed to relax a bit and faced each other and made more eye contact. I noticed RJ's bare neck--the shape and contours of the muscles and smoothness of his skin compared to his stubble on his face. Again, his unshaven face was just the right amount. Looking at his neck I thought of the times when I snuggled up to him and could smell his cologne or when I was close to him and would kiss his neck as we made love. The sunlight in the coffee shop was just as it was in his bedroom. I missed that cozy space that felt like was a world of our own. Fleeting thoughts of memories missed passed in my mind. But this was not the neck of the RJ that I met and fell in love.
At one point, our time seemed to edge on emotional. RJ had been doing most of the talking. So, I thanked him for asking me to get together because I wanted to see him, but I just didn't know what to say. I still didn't know what to say. RJ got a little glossy eyed and changed the subject, noting that he didn't want to cry in public. I later realized that I had been feeling rather numb, but trying to grasp at my emotions just below the surface. I wanted to be more in touch with my emotions at that moment, but it was too soon.
When we finished our drinks, RJ offered to walk me to the corner. It was odd to walk with him down the sidewalk to the corner that we parted on so many other occasions, once with a memorable kiss. We hugged, but it felt partly rushed and empty--not allowing room for the emotions to come to the surface. I turned to go my way and tried not to look back, pretty certain that he would not be looking back at me. As I began to jaywalk and cross the street, I looked over my shoulder for traffic and noticed RJ had done the same on his side of the street. Without realizing it, we were mirroring each other's footsteps and it broke my heart. So very close, so very close to finding real love. It makes me feel so sad that he could not see it, that he could not be strong enough and that I could not be brave enough.
I waited to open RJ's card until I had a quiet moment to myself. I was worried about what he wrote inside wondering if there would be some awful twist. But RJ's card and note were of sentiments of wishing me well. His handwriting was more controlled and consistent, seeming reflective of him getting more of his life together. He seemed to want to do the right thing, but by doing so, only made it hurt more. He said how special I am and that he wishes for all the happiness for me. His words are almost unfair. It made me feel like I was not good enough for him in someway. If I was so very special, why did he let me go? Why could he not pull it together when we were couple? How was it that he just didn't feel that it fit with me when I felt it with him?
That is the question that looms and haunts me. I have to find a way to let him go. I have to find a way to let go of all of the disappointment of what could have been. It troubles me because it shakes my confidence within myself to trust what is real or what is made up. I thought what we had was worth holding onto. How could I have been so wrong? How will I be able to tell the truth in the future?
But maybe this is what I needed. Maybe I needed this moment to realize that RJ did not fully appreciate me or the unconditional love that I had for him. He did not see the building strength in me that opened me up to love him even more. RJ needs to grow up, make his own decisions in life and let go of his past hurts because it sets limits. I saw some of my obstacles and did my emotional homework of confronting them to be able to move through them. Freedom and strength are on the other side of forgiveness. That is mine to keep. I deserve someone who appreciates me, all of me without trying to change me, and is not so willing to let me go while keeping appropriate emotional boundaries as two separate people who come together to share a life together.