I could feel the coldness wafting off of you as I walked through the door. The warmth I'd grown accustomed to was suddenly absent from your skin. You may have thought I didn't notice the way you almost imperceptibly recoiled when I reached out to touch you, but it was in that moment that I knew what would soon come.
During the night we walked side-by-side, but not hand-in-hand or arm-over-shoulder. With your hands in your pockets, your posture mirrored our conversation, stiff and formal. Again I could sense that my invitation to your body had been rescinded, could feel the possibility that this might be the last time I'd see you.
At the end of the night I wondered, are these your eyes looking back at me or are they a stranger's? Where is the person who would hold me tightly and leave trails of kisses along my shoulders? Where is the person who would search for any excuse to make contact with my skin - delicate fingers through my hair and heavy palms on my hip bones? Where is the person I thought I knew?
Even while standing directly in front of me you were so far away, the look in your eyes giving away your distance. You were unrecognizable, cold and unfeeling, a closed door that was once so open and inviting. When you walked away mid-conversation, the outline of your back in the dark an implicit goodbye, I felt my heart split and sink into my stomach. I choked on so many words that night that only the worst of them came out.
It's difficult to remember the look on your face, the way it felt when you looked at me with a stranger's eyes. To have that image be the one imprinted on my memory, instead of your slow, sneaky smile, your tenderness, your softness. And what I must have looked like to you, looking back at you with such incredulity and fury, the pitch of my voice getting higher, icier.
As I reflect on the events that led up to that moment, I wonder if I had said something differently, approached you differently, could have forced myself to feel differently, perhaps you wouldn't have been such a stranger that night. Perhaps warmth would have continued to roll off of you and fill the space between us with heat, perhaps we would not have met that night with you already so tired and weary (of me).
In the meantime, I am filled to the brim with sadness; I overflow, my eyes like dams, swollen and bursting. And as tempting as it is to hole up into myself, to bury my sadness deep within, I'm allowing myself to feel this, to cry, to grieve, to process. The guilt, the grief, the fear, the remorse - I feel all of it in heavy waves that lift me up and bring me crashing back to shore.
I'm devastated about what's been lost, but I know over time the sadness will ebb away, as will the guilt and the grief. And what will remain is a better version of myself, perhaps a little more weathered and ravaged by love, but nevertheless more open and committed and resilient.
I wish you nothing but the same.