A Letter to the Man I Couldn't Love

Alexandra Moss

It’s Saturday afternoon. I’m walking up Fifth Avenue discussing why I make my bed every morning with a skeptical friend. It's a conversation I often provoke to argue the world into fostering a little more order in it's daily routine. Suddenly I’m struck with a warm sensation between my fingers. I hurry home to search the depths of the internet to diagnose my disease and find treatment without setting foot into a doctor’s office. On hour two, I hold a match to my favorite Bath and Body Works candle, ‘Black Tie’. I inhale the green sage and sandalwood and I’m brusquely transported to Battery Park on a mild summer evening. Your cologne inundates my sanity and the warm crevices of your extremities send me into a frenzy as I relive the first time you reached for my hand.

Twenty minutes of serenity but I cling to the split second of blind ecstasy when you kiss the top of my hand. That was all it took. Then I let go. I wish you could have known. Bliss doesn’t last if both parties don’t hold on.

I thought people liars when they muttered “It’s not you, it’s me” until my path crossed yours. You’re as close to perfect as they come. Each moment I shared with you was another checkmark on my list and I’d often remove myself to question the veracity of my life. We should have scribed the pages of a textbook romance. It was effortless. It was electrifying. It was everything I wanted. You were respectful, bold, and kind. I was attentive, wide-eyed, and adventurous. The caliber of conversation was challenging and entrancing. You took me to places I never thought to visit. You valued me. You were intentional. I was bewildered by your morals that aligned with mine and two futures that seemed to coincide seamlessly. I thought you were wise, determined, and free-spirited. You thought I was young, driven, and grounded. The twelve years that separated us were nonexistent when you were by my side.
Then you ruined it.

I knew it was coming. I’d often leave Gabrielle Aplin on pause just in case my phone was to ‘accidently’ begin playing music. That phrase struck anxiety and panic. Echoes of elementary nursey rhymes encompassed my memories. “First comes love. Then…” I suppose it was the ‘then’ that terrified me. I’ve only had brokenness to look to on both sides of my extended family. I couldn’t get past the four letter ‘L’ word because often it leads to an eight letter ‘M’ word and finally a seven letter ‘D’ word. The most terrifying of them all.

I couldn’t let you in because I was afraid of those broken parts of me being healed, just to be demolished again. I couldn’t say it because if you ever decided I wasn’t worth it, I would still cling to you. I couldn’t let myself try because my ten-year-old memory of the fight when Mom decided she was done was broadcasting over and over and over and my adolescent tears kept screaming at me not to fall. My emotions were so high that the forefront of my thoughts were wrapped around escaping you just long enough to sit and catch my breath.

So I ran. You were confused. My brain was mudded with despondent despair and I couldn’t bear to let you glimpse the corruption I was facing. You wouldn’t give up. You were patient, and understanding, and willing to work things out. I almost agreed. You were everything I could have asked you to be, but I would have never forgiven myself if I dragged you along the end of my string. I began to create reasons why we couldn’t work and suddenly became aware of the twelve years you’ve lived that I haven’t touched. The things you want now may take me a decade to prepare for.

I wrapped my arms around you and took in a deep breath of sandalwood and green sage. I touched my lips to your cheek for the last time. You surprised me by grabbing my hand. You raised it to your mouth, and kissed it like you did that very first time. I let go.

I hope the next girl you love doesn’t let go. I hope she enjoys the adventures you never seem to stop weaving. I hope she falls in love with every wonderful piece of you that I couldn’t.

Most of all, I hope she admires the story of why you started to make your bed every morning.