Yes, that one. The girl you spent nearly 17 weeks sitting next to in that Sociology class. Sure, every other day or so, you would pretend to not be infatuated, but after the seventh week or so, you both just accepted lust at first sight and made a habit out of it. You would buffer the time you spent packing up your notebook to make sure you could at least walk out of class together and talk. Your professor was genuinely engaging but every now and then, you’d stop listening. You would daydream about asking her out. Spellbinding chemistry would combust and take care of the rest. You two would kiss and the rest would be history.
Of course, that never happened. You just sat there and realized you didn’t even know her name. Each time she talked, you were too busy worrying about how you looked or sounded or what your next sentence would be. You never asked her out. You just told your housemates about that beautiful girl in your class you loved to sit next to. You loved the tenderness of that innocent crush. You told your (girl)friends something cheesy about how she was a scene out of the perfect French movie. The wind breezing through her light hair making a hopeless romantic out of your longing eyes.
But, you never asked her out. Hell, the next semester, you took ANOTHER class together. Same situation. Your life was on repeat. No time now to sift through every excuse but damn, you got creative. Any reason to not summon up the courage to just…ask. Like anything in life, eventually you just learned to…let it go. Right?
No. Of course not. Your feelings for Penny just sat there in the precious compartment you built for all those unresolved things. Oh yeah, that’s right. Her name was Penny. You finally remembered.
When it finally happened, it nearly broke your heart. You don’t know what you did to deserve this cruel fate. You got her Facebook message at 9:08 PM on what felt like the warmest Wednesday of Spring. Summer was close. She opened with a french blow straight to the butterflies. “Je t’ai trouve!” Oh, she found you alright; she found you right at the start of a new relationship with another girl you “sincerely” loved. A girl you would date for a year or so before graduating college and moving right on. To be fair, it was probably true love at the time.
In the rest of her message, she invited you to her dance final. You attended and made sure to say Hi and introduced her to your housemates and girlfriend. She smiled and was incredibly NOT awkward. Impressive. You must have made up the fantasy in your mind. The date was May 9, 2012.
One thousand, two hundred and twenty-two days and two failed serious relationships later, you finally began the process of … letting go. She was in med school in the city that never sleeps and you were 8,000 miles away in the city they say was built on gold. You were teaching abroad and walking the precipice of soul-crushing loneliness. For the first time in your life, you were not within a 45 minute drive of family and there wasn’t a soul in that foreign country you could call home. It was the kind of loneliness that made your soul shudder. It made you regret each time you, in your past, inaccurately or very casually said “I’m so depressed” or “that was very depressing”. You now had a new metric. It was in this phase of your life that you understood why lonely men, rich or poor, paid thousands for prostitutes to talk to them.
Stranded alone, Facebook was your only lifeline. 1:00 in the morning and you were wide awake wondering who you could reach out to in the digital ether to feel any sense of … connection. Of course, the one that got away.
You confessed your love/lust to her. You used the same tactic she once tried three and a half years ago. Your Facebook message was short and straight to the point. Her response was commensurate in brevity and expressing love/lust. She claimed she had the bigger crush on you, not the other way around. She even had the audacity to claim SHE sat next to YOU every day in your sociology class. Your heartstrings were in full somersault jolting every romantic fiber of your being awake.
Eventually, you both calmed down and what she said next taught you the first lesson of letting go.
“Thank you. Thank you for saying that.”
What followed was a state of peace that you will never successfully communicate to anyone. It was the tranquility of putting to rest those matters you dutifully stored in your “precious compartment of unresolved things”. So, you spent the next few months judiciously emptying that compartment. No insecure crush or dysfunctional relationship was left unturned and each time you felt a bit less … alone. In so doing, you learned the final lesson and the ultimate importance of letting go. Tying up those loose ends freed your heart and mind from the depths of insecurity.
In letting go, you finally created enough space to invite and welcome something new and more healthy into your life.
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