Sentimental, gentle wind …

blowing through my life again

Trapped in traffic last night, I stopped at a mall to waste some time. I was wandering around, yapping on the cell phone, when I saw someone who looked exactly like someone I knew, once upon a time.

I don’t like to hold on to the past. Thus, I hate it even worse when it creeps up on me. Because I am not that person anymore. Not to say that the “old” Dawn wasn’t a good person who was fun and lighthearted and introspective — the “new” Dawn is all of that with a heaping side of neuroses yet minus the dumb, impulsive shenanigans.

But it’s like how when you become a nonsmoker — you simply cannot be around smokers … not for a long while, anyway. The first year, the temptation to pick up a cigarette is downright overpowering. Thus, you stay out of bars and, sadly, perhaps find excuses not to hang out with your smoking friends in social environments. Then after a year has passed, it’s a “filthy, disgusting habit” that you can’t imagine that you used to partake of.

That said, I wrote an imaginary letter to this vision from the past:

Dear M—,

I can’t count the years that have passed since I’ve seen your face — I can’t even remember what you look like anymore, save for the one photo of you that I ever possessed, which I lost a few years ago. That, I had memorized. That is the image that comes to my mind when I think about you.

And so, I swore I saw you last night. The more I stared, the more this person looked curiously at me. But, alas, what would you be doing in a shopping mall in Washington, D.C.? Last you told me, you moved to Erie, Pa. Last we saw each other, we were in Pittsburgh. Last we spoke on the phone, with those good intentions of getting together and upkeeping a friendship, well, it had to be a hundred years ago. In my mind’s eye, anyway.

I’ve stopped driving through your neighborhood when I go back to Pittsburgh. I never did it on purpose — you happened to live near an area of town where I loved to go shopping. I’ve found alternate ways to go there and, besides, I can’t even remember which building was yours anymore. Time erases so much, thankfully.

Seeing someone I thought was you was jarring for a moment. The old feelings of longing, of sadness, of desperation, of guilt and maybe even of joy collided in a millisecond, and I forgot that I was on the phone at the time.

I’ve forgiven myself for my reticence at that time. I’d adored you and feared that I wasn’t good enough for you, so I wouldn’t let myself get close to you. You moved on quickly, and I never thought you were happy after that. But when I came around, it was too late.

How I cursed my mind for holding me back — you were what my heart wanted at that time. Yet, maybe my heart was wrong — maybe for the fact that my mind stayed in control was truly a sign that I knew this situation wasn’t going to be right for me.

Nonetheless, I want to beat the everloving shit out of people who croon how it’s better to have loved and lost, blah blah blah. Because you were the closest I ever came to letting that happen. And still, I held you at arm’s length. And I have yet to figure out how it feels to have ever loved at all, so the saying goes.

When I saw the person who was not you, I wondered what you look like now … and whether you’d even recognize me. I think you turned 40 this year — I don’t remember the year you were born but I know we were about eight or nine years apart. You were free-spirited and uncomplicated; you were exquisite and addictive; you made me think and feel things that I’d never considered.

You made me a better person. Even if you weren’t around long enough to see me flourish.

And so, I smiled at the familiar-looking stranger, quickly returned to my phone conversation and walked away from my past one last time — stronger than I’d ever been and more determined than ever that, the next time my heart tells me something, I might want to listen — even if my mind might disagree.

If, for no other reason, I could write that series of romance novels that have been swirling around in my head for 15 years because I might finally know what it feels like to feel something inside my heart other than regret.

Instead of forgiving myself for walking away, someday I might thank myself for taking a chance.

I thank you for letting me learn that lesson and, possibly, for loving me anyway.

All my best,

2 Responses to Sentimental, gentle wind …

  1. IndigoSunMoon :

    What a powerful, emotion filled letter. Thank you for sharing it…

  2. IndigoSunMoon :

    P.S. I love the new look of the place!!!