What If? A Letter To The Boy You Want But Will Never Have

by Laura Frost

I sat on the rock wall and stared off at sailing ships traveling slowly on the wind and waves through the starry night. The breeze lifted off the river and gave me another reason to hug my arms tightly around myself. I knew this sea walk by heart, and I thought I knew you as well.

There was a look in your eyes as you spoke to me: An apology was written in them that I knew you would never say and that I had no right to ask for. You talked about how much you liked her, how she was incredible and made you happy.

You were excited to start fresh with someone so great, and why shouldn’t you be? I made it clear to you I had moved on long ago, but there was that small detail we never explicitly discussed: We had never actually been together.

I remember the night you tried to kiss me. I remember the time you held my arm walking around the city. That was as close as we ever were to anything real between us, and yet it always felt like there was so much lying just beneath the surface with you and me.

I know that you felt it too. You came to visit me, and I came home to see you. We turned to each other when we couldn’t turn to anyone else. We held each other up as standards to which our respective potentials had to measure up against.

We would go through periods where we would talk less, usually when one of us got into a relationship with another person. We never introduced the other to a boyfriend or girlfriend, respectively. We judged each other’s partners harshly and protected each other fiercely.

No one was ever good enough for the other, and it caused more than one fight when proving otherwise was attempted. One day I met a man who would surpass the standard, held up by a boy who was never actually mine, and that man was incredible. He was everything I had ever wished for and more.

I felt both completed by him and like I would never deserve him. He brought out the very best version of me, and I could tell I changed him for the better as well.

I got over you.

I suppose that is a strange thing to say because I never officially stated I was interested in you. We never talked about any of it, did we? We just knew, as I knew that windy night that you were over me.

You asked me why I looked sad, and I suppose it was a fair question. I was incredibly happy in my relationship and, you asked, didn’t I want you to be happy, too?

Of course, I did; I told you. I loved you, which was part of the problem, so of course I wanted you to be incredibly happy. At the end of the day, I had to face the fact that what I had loved most about you all this time was the idea of a man who could never hurt me.

A man who was never really mine and who I never really belonged to could never really break my heart. How can you break something that was never yours to hold?

Did you ever swim out too far in the ocean as a child and realized some unknown creature or adventure could be lurking just a few feet away? Your heart wanted nothing more than the pure joy of finding magic in that cold deep water, but your head stopped you from being washed away at sea in order to find it.

Almost loves are like that: We close our eyes and know from hints of that mysterious fairytale of happily ever after that what we are blindly reaching for just might be worth all the risk. So we hold our breath, and we reach and we push against the tides of other potential loves and lives without each other.

I held on so tightly, and I was irrationally angry at you and myself when you seemed happy with someone else. Why did I only seem to be available when you weren’t? Why were you only single when I was happy with someone else? Why couldn’t I completely get you out of my head?

We never had anything but an imagined dream, and no matter how much I wished this wasn’t true, it was our "love" that was a lie.

I looked into the apology in your eyes and had to give you an apology back. I loved the idea of you, but I had never really loved you. Wouldn’t we have found a way to make it work if the latter had been true? I know I never tried, but I couldn’t say I had actively been pursued by you either.

When I look back on our time together, I saw so much love and longing and loss. The love I had been so sure I had felt had prevented my heart from being entirely open to the wonder of falling in love without a safety net beneath me.

I was sorry I had held you as only a safety net and not a reason to fall, and I was sorry you had held me close for the same. There was a purity in the changed friendship we had now.

We had cared about each other so much for so long, but so much of that care had been conditional. I love you until you love someone more than me, more than the idea of me, more than waiting for the one day far off wonder of us.

I will forever thank you for what you've taught me and the way you've transformed my life. Your eyes hold joy and hope and, in the most beautiful way, love. There is no anguish, no anger, no heartbreak, no loss -- not anymore.

I am so happy to believe you can look into my eyes, and one day soon, if not today, see the same story I see.

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