December 10: Wisdom.
What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out? (Author: Susannah Conway)
I said goodbye.
Not just to my roommates and friends and co-workers. Not just to Austin. Not just to Texas. Not just to my life as I had known it.
I said goodbye to the only boy I have ever loved.
Don’t be mistaken, I’ve said goodbye to him many times before. Countless, tear-filled goodbyes at the end of almost every visit, every phone call. Goodbyes became a central part of our relationship. It always hurt the same, never more and never less. At one point, it was the most consistent thing about us.
Long after we had parted ways, we had struggled to maintain some kind of friendship. Even then, I found myself relying on him too much. When he decided he could leave my life and return when it suited him, it hurt every time. There was never a middle ground with him; I either loved and need him in my life or intensely hated him.
From 2008 to 2010, our friendship was strained and forced. We made poor attempts at keeping in touch, because it was strange to not somehow be in each other’s lives. Even though I was living in Texas again, I didn’t think I’d ever really see him (or would really want to). That changed in March of this year, during SXSW.
He called me to let me know that he would be in Austin for the festival and thought it would be nice for us to hang out. There was awkward banter, some flirting. The spark that had always existed between us was small and fading now, but it was somehow still there. Our friends might have noticed but they said nothing about it.
We hung out for a couple of days during the festival. The last time I saw him was Friday night. I had to do music coverage for Venus Zine on Saturday and needed to get up bright and early. But somehow, I ended up running around Austin and partaking in general shenanigans until 5 a.m. with him and his friends instead. And somewhere in all of that, we managed to talk. About how different life would have been if we had wanted the same things. All the ‘what ifs’ that had hung over our heads for the last few years. We knew that we couldn’t change anything and had things turned out differently, we might have resented each other for holding one another back. I’m a writer and editor who wanted the big city life in Chicago; he’s an animation artist who will (probably) end up in California. We had never wanted to get married and stay close to our tiny hometown, like so many others. One of the first reasons I loved him so much is because he had wanted to get out of there as much as I did. But we weren’t headed in the same direction; we never were. To know that was one thing; to say it out loud to him was really quite another.
We spent that one final night together, hugged and then went our separate ways. It was all the closure I could ask for. We’ve chatted briefly a few times since then, cordial and kind. But I don’t need him anymore and he doesn’t need me. This is our middle ground. I finally found it.
It was the smartest choice. The wisest choice. The best choice. Maybe for both of us, but mainly for me because finally, after loving one person for so long, I finally feel free to love someone else.