So in the past I’ve always avoided them. Yes, I once left a country after living there for a few months without telling any of my local friends. They weren’t happy. And now, I completely understand why.
A Japanese friend of mine met me for dinner a few weeks ago and told me the news he had applied for a job in America. He had lived there for 10 years some time ago and enjoys the lifestyle of the States and told me he wanted to go back. That didn’t shock me and I understand his thinking because I have always enjoyed living in Asia more than in my home country of Australia.
Anyway, for the first time in our entire two year relationship, we both stayed sober and we had a normal conversation over dinner. To be honest, it was almost boring. We didn’t seem to have a lot to say to one another. Or maybe, we had too much we wanted to say, but since we weren’t drinking, we were afraid to talk about our feelings and so we kept quiet.
At the end of the night, he paid like he usually did and we said goodbye. The smile he gave me was almost sad, as though in a different time, or different place, something might have happened. His parting words were, “Keep in touch.” I nodded because I didn’t trust my voice and I caught the train home.
We have been talking back and forth for the past few weeks via text and I kept asking, “When are you leaving? We need to catch up for that beer you promised me.”
The other night I had a sudden thought: He’s not going to say goodbye because it will hurt too much. He’s just going to leave and not tell anyone.
I messaged him and his response was: “You read my mind. How could you read someone’s mind like that?”
I told him it’s because it’s what I’ve always done too. I hate goodbyes and so I leave without a word. I told him I wouldn’t be mad if he didn’t say goodbye because goodbyes are so final and nothing in this world is ever final or forever.
He rang me yesterday and I finally asked, “So, when are you actually leaving?”
His answer: “Tomorrow.”
There was a pause between both of us. It hung there because neither of us knew what to say next.
I spent the next four hours crying like I’ve never cried before.
Was it because I was angry?
Was it because I was sad he was going and I didn’t actually see him one last time?
No. We’d already done that and in my heart-of-hearts, I knew that when I saw him. I knew it by the tone of his voice, the smile he gave me and the way his eyes spoke the words he couldn’t and wouldn’t ever say because he was scared.
I was crying because I now understand how much I’ve hurt people in the past by doing the same thing. I was selfish and didn’t think of anyone but myself. I didn’t want to get hurt, but I didn’t consider that other people would be hurt by my actions.
I was crying because this man has been my lifeline here, someone who I truly believe understood me more than anyone I’ve ever known and I was crying because I now know that I don’t want to make the same mistakes as him.
I don’t want to be afraid to say how I feel, to tell someone I love them because they might not feel the same way or because I’m scared to be the first person to say the words. I now believe that saying, “I love you,” is something you should do all the time, to your family, to your friends and to people you want to start a new relationship with.
But the process of discovering this has been so fucking difficult. I’ve felt like my heart has been ripped out of my chest. I feel as though a part of me has been lost and it has.
When you are friends with someone and love them (either romantically or simply as a friend), you touch them in a way words cannot describe and you leave a part of your soul with every single person you meet. They change you, you change them and you cannot ever go back to what you were or what you had. It’s gone and you need to,
LET IT GO.
So I’m not going to say goodbye, but I am going to say, “I love you,” because that’s how I feel.
Thank you Yasuyuki.
And I will see you again.
You owe me a beer, dammit!