Dear (Redacted):

It wasn’t me, it was you. Or so you told me—the line everyone says as if they learned it along with the alphabet. Not that you actually said it. We didn’t get far enough for it to be necessary. But you would have said it, had I made my old mistakes. This time I didn’t make excuses for not hearing from you, I didn’t take ‘let’s stay in touch’ to mean you wanted to stay in touch. I said my piece and walked away. You went on with your life and so did I. But it’s sort of a miracle that I got to do that much.

I had resigned myself to never seeing you again, that you were a decades-old oversight and I would just have to deal with it. I’m supposed to be grateful that I got to at least talk to you, and I am. I’ve had to close up shop in stages, accept that this is truly the last time I ‘put myself out there’. It’s not that I’m giving up. It’s just time to stop making room in my heart for people who don’t want to be there. You and every other boy/guy/man who let me go had every right to. I think about the guys I turned down, my perfectly good reasons for doing so. The thing is, you don’t need a good reason. If you’re not feeling someone, you’re not feeling them. It has nothing to do with their character or lack thereof, you don’t need an excuse anywhere near that noble. And the more I think about it, the more I marvel at the fact that anyone finds anyone. Forget true love. I’m talking about someone you can stand who can stand you back. Sometimes I ask myself where I got the nerve to think someone was out there for me, that I was dumb to think I would find a good fit, never mind ‘the one’.

I can already hear the platitudes—‘you’ll find him, just be patient‘, ‘you have to change how you talk/act/dress/think/no don’t think/laugh at their jokes/wear tighter pants/stop wanting a guy with two eyes/don’t be so intimidating’. And between the ages of 18 and 44 I did all of those things. I smiled more, asked men for help, wasn’t clingy, wore fish-net stockings, left the country, learned new languages, took up endeavors for their own sake and not to ‘hunt for men’, everything short of prostitution was attempted. A lot of those things stuck and became part of my true self (like the stockings), but other things had to be dropped in order for me to live with me. I’m sort of rambling right now, but you were always nice enough to listen those few times we spoke. I liked how I felt like a whole person around you, even before I thought of you in ‘that’ way.

You’re the only guy who’s ever been 5 to 5. You see, women have a scale and on one side is Attraction. On the other side is Like. If Attraction is 10 and Like is 0, we tend to not be interested in a relationship (or at least we fight it because that’s a disaster waiting to happen). And if Like is 10 and Attraction 0, the guy is a blood relative or may as well be. Typically if Attraction is at least 3, we start to consider him. When I think back to guys I’ve been into, the Like/Attraction scale varies. Sometimes it’s 3 to 7, 7 to 3, or 4 to 6. But you are unique in that it’s 5 to 5. If we had been friends all those years ago, I don’t think we would have been friends for long. You were both cute and easy to talk to, and if we’d had a solid 45-minute conversation, I’d have probably figured it out. Or you would have seen my eyes get all misty and remembered that appointment you were late for.

I don’t have a logical, sensible reason for getting in touch again. There’s just a stubborn feeling in my gut, one that sat with me for a long time before I called you. Then there’s the couple. I hadn’t thought of you for years upon years, until one day you popped into my head unbidden. It was ridiculous because I had never thought of you before. But the thought wouldn’t leave me. About three months later I saw a magazine cover, and it featured a married couple who looked like us. He looked just like you and she looked like me and it was nothing more than a coincidence. But I admit I spent a full seven seconds wondering about parallel universes.

These are the silly things you aren’t supposed to say out loud, the things you ignore because they don’t mean anything. And they don’t. I haven’t forgotten that I’m 45 and not in a Taylor Swift video. I’m going to be sensible and ignore my gut feeling. I’m not going to call you or ask about you. Like I said before, I got to say my piece. However silly my thoughts are, I did in fact share them with you. Not the magazine part though. That was just TOO silly. And even though you’ve grown steely-haired and distinguished, you have the same patience you had in the past for a gushing fan. I could hear your indulgent smile over the phone, the one you save for your friend’s kid sister. So I don’t mind that you are the last, and I’m not sorry I put myself out there. You got on the plane to Lisbon, I went to fight the Nazis. There is a peace in not having to wonder.

We’ll always have (redacted)…

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