My stalker best friend took me through your profile. We critiqued and speculated and laughed and made memes of all the photos of you. Then she left the room and I was left alone in the presence of your face.
Your haircut frustrates me and your eyebrows need to be contoured. Your smile hardly pulls up in the corners and your braces make you look like a horse. You squint too often and you have miserable posture. You need a cleaner shave and lesser eye bags. But your gaze will always have an intensity that enraptures me.
Staring at you in silence, at that one picture of you sleeping, my heart ached. You never look good when you know there’s a camera. But in your sleep, you are graced in peace. Your lashes sweep, and your nose peeks over your sleeves. You’re beautiful.
But I had seen the pictures of you and your friends. Of the alcohol bottles. Of all your crazy antics. Of your post-grad preparations. And I knew that if I stepped away, I’d lose you in the time, in the distance, in the crowd, in the threads of destiny. Watching your sleeping face, I knew eventually, I wouldn’t see this same beauty.
One day I’m not going to miss you. One day your name won’t ignite a fire in me anymore. One day I could pass by a boy dressed in your style and not double-take to make sure it’s not you. One day I’ll stop checking your tweets or wondering what you’re doing. One day your opinion will stop mattering to me. One day my notebooks won’t even mention your name once. One day breakfasts will mean breakfasts with someone else. One day I’d only see your shortcomings. One day I’d laugh at your face and laugh at how I had felt.
And that is the natural order of things. How many other times had my perception of a boy undergone that same process? Countless. And I remember how all those times before, I had longed for the day when I’d forget them. When the pain of not having them would go mute, and the distraction from work would disappear. I’d be unshackled.
But I don’t want to forget you. Even if I know I’m going to have to. I know I’m going to have to let you go. It’s just selfish, that’s all. I’m selling myself short and I’m denying you of a better match.
I know what to do. I know what I should do. And because this is what I held unto, because this is how I will honour my parents, because this is what I promised my best friend, because this is what I swore in the face of God, I know that at the end of the day, this is what I’ll do.
But understand that of all the boys in the past, you – alone – do I not want to let go of. Because there was a freedom I found in you that I found nowhere else. Because letting go of you is more about holding myself down and forcing myself to look away. Because letting you go is about feeling the last threads of your existence course over my palm, then between my knuckles, then past the tips of my fingers, keeping my hand open all the while – until the sensation has left and the warmth is gone, until my arm is retracted and my hands are busy with other things, until, one day, my fourth finger is banded in gold.
And I wonder if then the spaces between my fingers will question if this was the only love that could have filled in the gaps.