“You were put on this earth to achieve your greatest self, to live out your purpose, and to do it courageously.”
I remember the rain most… the night love left the cab of my truck.
She was on the passenger side, and because of the rain, didn't exactly take her time saying goodbye post-exit. For her - like the Midwest fundamentalist farmers of our Bible Belt - the rain was a Godsend.
It meant the break-up wasn't going to drivel on. No last kiss. No awkward hug. No forlorn, desperate stare into her hazels to will her mind changed.
She'd already made it up. Those doing the dumping usually do.
Love then skipped across the street, not even giving notice that I, too, had exited the truck. I guess I just wanted a better view of what her leaving forever looked like. I think when we're left (or soon to be left) with a void like that, we'll fill it with almost anything. Even that insufferable, lasting image I knew would end up masochistically haunting my sleep for the next few weeks.
She wasn't my first love. But she was my best. So I shouted across the two-lane gravel the only question I didn't have an answer to.
Maybe she'd already given the answer and I just couldn't hear it. Maybe I knew the answer all along and just couldn't admit to it. Either way, it was clear to her she hadn’t gotten through to me. That’s when she turned around - beneath the iniquitously punishing skies opening up in celebration of the last sand falling though our relationship hourglass – and spoke the truth. Something that came easy to her with the mute on the other side of the road having already swallowed his tongue.
"… You're better in words."
The words she spoke of were a series of love letters I’d written for her. We’d started a thing before she left for school. Bad timing. And the jury was out as to whether the spark we had was something to either build on… or put out.
I didn't have her contact info; mailing, phone, etc. at her university. But I knew she came home once a weekend to do laundry and hang with her family/local friends. So I drove by her house and left her a letter in her mailbox. A week later, when I opened her mailbox to drop off a follow-up, I noticed a small 3x5 index with a note for me. It said she’d gotten my letter. And that she loved it.
Not only did I leave the letter I had in hand in its place… I decided to keep writing. Like clockwork. Legitimate clockwork. Like Noah from the Notebook, clockwork.
Each letter grew richer, more passionate in context. I could feel myself falling more in love with her with each page I wrote. And her, falling in love with me, with each she read. I knew because each week I returned with a letter, the crimson red, iron flag was always waving. Empty, but calling for the attention I was on cloud nine to pay.
She came home for summer almost 4 months later. Love re-moved back into her parent's home and her old room. This time though, stuffed in a bedside drawer, there I was... 15 letters deep. She'd kept every word. Re-read every line. And it wasn't but 30 seconds into seeing her again that we were kissing like teenage fools.
The energy and romance built between us was a powder keg, set to brew, simmer... for over 100 days. The release was, needless-to-say, euphoric.
… And lasted a whole 3 weeks.
The biggest difference between when she was away, and when we were actually – physically - together again?... No letters.
She'd fallen in love with me, the writer. Not me, the person. Mercifully, she was cognizant enough to end things before we'd forced that square into the circle hole any further. And though her words came off painfully disappointing at the time, in retrospect, they also contained the greatest compliment I'd ever received. Maybe the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me.
"… You're better in words."
Because here I am, today. Writing. Doing what I do best. What I was put on this Earth to do. Something she'd picked up on, long before I realized it.
I wasn't meant for her. I was meant for a college-ruled composition book.
Which was fun for her when reading me was the closest she could touch. She saw me in my armor. In my element. And it moved her. Aroused her. Fulfilled her.
But when she saw me in person - naked, mumbling past feeble, cowardly attempts at articulating my feelings for her - she was unimpressed. Underwhelmed. Short-changed. Cheated. Cheated on.
Because until I came to terms with my true love, as she had, she knew she was always going to be a mistress to my pen.
Since then, we’ve moved on. Grown as individuals. Had a decade worth of new firsts… and lasts. We still have things in common, like we always did. For example, we both have a child of our own now. Mine has 98,000 words. Hers has yet to say his first.
Our love’s not lost by any means. It’s just not shared with each other. But we will always have love for the letters that brought us together. The same letters that ultimately led us apart.
So if you have a pen handy, I suggest you get busy – and write your own.