The Ones We Don’t Get to Keep
There’s beauty in letting someone walk out of your life
The summer of my 15th year, I visited a friend in a town two hours away and met a friend of her’s. He was different in the most beautiful way. Smart and poetic with an old soul. I was done in an instant.
We exchanged addresses because that’s what you did back then. We never called. We never emailed. It didn’t seem right. We wrote each other letters every week for a year.
We would see each other only twice the entire duration of our college years. The letters came and went.
After college, I wrote to him and told him I loved him. I dropped the letter in the mailbox before I could take it back. The letter and the words. Two days later, he got in his old International Scout and drove two hours to show up on my doorstep, give me one of the greatest kisses of my life and then got back in his car and drove home.
Our young love affair spanned seven years, during which we spent only 10 days in each other’s presence. I kept a box of every letter, with the pretty handwriting and the painted envelopes, until I married my first husband and felt it was a betrayal to keep them.
He passed through my life leaving me with nothing but memories of a trip to Port Aransas and a love of Bladerunner and Lyle Lovett.
He was not the last man I would let walk away. I’d meet a man I was never meant to keep and go until the wheels fell off. When they did, we would get out of the car and walk in different directions. I kept only what they gave and that was enough.
Like all things that burn hot, these affairs burn out. You’re left with smoke and smolder. But it hangs about you. It lingers and your mind pulls it back in the strangest of moments. It’s beautiful.
Not everyone is meant to stay. When you find someone that is just passing through your life and you know it, you gleam everything you can from every moment.
You remember what his hair smells like. What his hands look like down to the small scar at the bottom of his thumb on his left hand. The smirk that turns into a slightly crooked smile that turns into a chuckle.
You absorb that and commit it to your memory because you know it’s all you’re ever going to have. You let go of the kite and watch it fly.
It’s not a matter of one person rejecting another. You cross that bridge early on. There’s no hurt, only acceptance. You were brought into my life for a reason, and I, yours. Now we let it be.
They’re more than flings but less than a lifetime. They transcend physical attraction to the mental, emotional, and spiritual. There’s substance without overthinking. True human connection is rare.
It’s the ones that you can’t let pass through that are the hard ones. The jump in the car and find yourself crossing a state line at 10:30pm ones. The 2am I really need to talk phone call ones.
But the man that leaves my house after dinner and Miles Davis and hours of conversation and nothing more? The one that says he wants to stay but won’t? The one I would never try to convince to stay? That’s the stuff of stars.