By NICOLE BURROWS
It’s been a while since I’ve seen you. I hope you’re doing okay, with all the things you have going on. Your name gets called often, in these parts, and I find myself listening in whenever I hear it.
I know, to you and probably to others, it seems like I just bailed on you, that I gave up on you, cold turkey, but I had to take this time away from you to be sure about what I really wanted. Truth be told, I think you gave up on me, a long time ago; I will try not to play that over in detail. But I needed to see this as a possibility … to think and see straight, and I couldn’t do it with you around me all the time.
I also knew in my heart that, if I didn’t remove myself from your physical presence, I probably would not be able to make myself decide about the next steps I’d take in my life. I had to get out of the proverbial forest to see the trees. You know full well, when you turn on your charm, though rare it has been of late, I get to this place in my mind where I can’t resist you and my judgement is completely clouded. This time, I couldn’t let that be.
You know you’ve always been important to me. You were my first love, and the first love always remains treasured for sentimental reasons even if it doesn’t last. We lasted a long time. We’ve been together from the very beginning, you and I, and in all that time we’ve been inseparable.
But in every relationship you get to the point where you start to change, you start to grow and sometimes you grow in different directions … or maybe not at the same pace. I feel like that’s what happened with us. Our relationship was magical at the start. We went everywhere together, did everything together. No one got between us. Nothing could penetrate our bond. Our love was pure … unadulterated … and it was real. We were both really young, but we loved each other the way we knew how to, like we’d been together for decades. And before you knew it we actually were together for decades. I can’t believe how it still all seems like yesterday.
There I go again, waxing nostalgic. That’s my problem. And it’s always been my problem. I think of all our good times and I try to cling to them. I want it to be like it was. If I could have that, I keep telling myself, maybe this would work between us.
But I’ve done this at great cost … idealising the future based on our past. And the cost is borne not just by me but by you, too. Our love for each other is not in question, but when things have changed so drastically between us in our relationship so that we feel foreign to one another, that’s not a good sign. It’s a sign that we have gone too far past our ‘use by’ date … we have hung on too hard and for too long. And what comes next is an expensive price to pay.
We saw the writing on the wall. We can’t pretend we didn’t. I wanted the beauty of what we shared before, but I was never sure about returning home after college, because I always felt like there was so much more in this world to be done and to be experienced. I didn’t think to do and to experience it would ever mean we couldn’t or wouldn’t be together.
But things changed. I honestly don’t think I changed. The same thing I wanted all along is the same thing I want now … to share my life with you while sharing the world with you. But maybe that was never okay with you. Maybe that was never what you really wanted, and maybe - please try not to be offended - you have changed far more than I could.
For a long time, you let people get by with nonsense without holding them accountable, and by the time you realised you should have held your ground it was already a huge problem for us. You allowed people to come between us. You gave them more time and attention than you gave me. You allowed them to tell you things that weren’t true, and all these things changed you for me.
This great love of mine seemed to turn on me out of nowhere. You started letting people into our life together without checking to see if their intentions were any good to you … to us. You didn’t take me seriously when I told you I could see you changing and not for the better. You - and others - thought I was just picking on you all the time.
And that really hurt me because I’ve only ever wanted the best for you. I’ve seen all your potential, and I don’t think it’s the love lenses I wear for you. You are more than physically beautiful … so much more, even though we know that changes, too, with time. You used to make everyone who came to visit us feel so welcome, so warm, providing the right atmosphere, full of laughter, beaming with love, brimming with pride, so that anyone would be happy to know you and spend time with you … and to love you, because I know many did and still do - like me. Yes, I love you. Yes, you will always be my first love and nothing ever changes that. In many, many ways, I wouldn’t be here today, were it not for you.
But maybe your part in my life is done … at least for now. And even though I miss you terribly each and every single day, and I think about all that we shared over the years, I know the rest of this part of my journey I have to walk alone.
I hope that you will find it in your heart to forgive me for leaving so abruptly and for tending to my own needs for just this once. Because I knew it was now or never. I spent 16 years beyond college trying to make things work with you. But maybe, right now, while I am outside of our relationship, I can say - maybe - it was not meant to be. And you know I’ve tried. I’ve taken every job I could, even when I knew it wouldn’t fit, just to be in the same space with you … just to say I stayed with you and that we worked it out. But nothing did work. I always felt that we were disconnected from each other, trying to seal up the empty spaces and survive at the same time.
More than my first love, you will always be my greatest love. My heart is with you, my love is with you, and I will always want the best for you. But the best for you right now does not include me being there with you. And you know that is a very difficult thing for me, because to get away from you and make something more of myself, to make my dreams come true, to put myself in a better position to help my family, and the children I still want to have, to help you, your children, and really all our family … means I have to also be away from the people I love the most in this world. And that is no easy thing to do. It almost breaks - well, it would break - my heart, if I didn’t already make up my mind that it is ultimately for them - our families - that I do this … that I’ve taken this solo journey.
And so far, all these months, it has not been easy … not in the least. Thankfully, I’ve had quite a few guardian angels along the way. But doing it, doing this, is the only thing I can do to give my best to the people who deserve my best. And I hope one day you will understand that I want that to include you.
Please know that you are always in my thoughts. I really do miss you every day. And I look forward to the day when I can return home and smile and laugh with you like the good old friends that we are … to give you back what you gave to me all those years ago. Who knows what the future holds? Maybe we will love again like we did before, or maybe we won’t.
But until that moment of truth, I’ll continue to love you as you are, from where I am, hope for the best for you, try to do my best for you from here, and await the day when you see (and fulfil) all the potential I have always seen in you, before it’s too late for you to do so.
I love you from the deepest part of me, Bahamaland. And I always will. For evermore.
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