Remember the last time we saw each other in the flesh? I know, it’s already been one full year. I can still see a blurry sea of cars at the parking lot of the airport, taste the ocean water of sorrow annoyingly making way into my mouth, and feel your firm grip on my left hand never wanting to let you go to Seattle. You were crying too, remember? You kissed me and told me how much you loved me, remember?
I gave you a letter that day. I wore my heart on that pen and wrote and wrote and wrote. About how you were my first love. About how glad I was I got to experience the ups and downs of our 2-year relationship. About how I enjoyed spending Christmas break with you back home in Saipan. About how much your family meant to me, and how I was still planning on visiting them when I get the chance. About how sad I was that we were parting ways because of college, but how I understood that we didn’t want to commit to a long-distance relationship. About how young were, and how much more growing we needed as individuals. About how much I love you unconditionally.
People used to tell me breakups are complicated. I think we fell into that category when we continued talking after officially breaking up. We still occasionally talked to each other, called each other our pet name “baba”, and told each other “I love you”. Even though I was happy that the space between us would give me the chance to grow as an individual, I still loved and missed you.
That’s why it hurt when you called me one day and nonchalantly told me you didn’t want to talk to me anymore. Except you didn’t directly say that. You said, “You’re beautiful, but there are other beautiful women out there. I can get pussy out here.” It confused me when you contacted me 4 months later in June and told me how much you were sorry and missed me. You told me that I was your first love. You said you still kept my letter and all the other love notes I wrote to you throughout the years tucked safely in your wallet. You suggested we try doing long distance. Then a week later, you told me that I’m just not that important of a person in your life. That’s when I decided to let go of us permanently, gracefully. I had to because I was important to me.
I entered the process of healing as the world was plagued by a pandemic. It wasn’t easy, but I knew I was strong enough to get through the pain….until August, two months after I let go of us. I met up with a friend from back home, and he told me that you hooked up with your younger sister’s classmate back in Christmas break. Remember Christmas break? The time we were hooking up? The time you took me to see your family multiple times? The time you told me you loved me?
I couldn’t believe it. No, I seriously couldn’t. How could someone I shared two full years of my life with, who shared family and friends, who was a classmate of mine since the sixth grade, who told me that he loved me, go behind my back like that? My mind, body, and soul spiraled in shock.
I had so many questions. Like how could you have so little respect for someone who loved and supported you unconditionally? How could you disrespect my body by fucking me then fucking someone else on the same day? How could you be so selfish and manipulative? All these questions I have now let go because these are questions about your character, and your deceitful words and actions show the deep shallows of your character. The one question I still can’t figure out is this:
Why did you keep my letter and my love notes?
When you first told me back in June that you kept them all, I thought it was romantic. It showed me that you truly did love and miss me. But now that I know how little you respected me, I look back and wonder if you just kept them as souvenirs. Souvenirs that reminded you of how much I blindly loved you. They were trophies representing your victory in winning over my time and affection. Maybe that’s why you kept them, as souvenirs to pump up your ego. Or maybe you kept them because you truly did miss me and love me. Whatever the case, it doesn’t matter anymore.
I have felt pain so, so deep I had doubts that I could crawl back to try living, but I stretched my hand out to friends and family that have gripped my hand tighter than you did last year at the airport. I cried at work, cried before bed, and cried during my morning runs. But I also laughed on calls with the best friends in the world, laughed when I watched something funny on Youtube and laughed as I tripped and fell when my eyes were blurrily tear-filled. And guess what? I told my mom everything about us, and I still tell her everything. Like a few months ago when I told her about my one night stand with a German exchange student, and last week when I told her I removed my copper IUD at the gynecologist’s office. She has become more than a mom to me; she has become my companion.
Becoming closer to my mom reminds me of your mom and dad. I remember you lost your dad at the age of four. I remember your mom left you and your little sister to be off on her own for some time after your dad’s passing. I remember you had to grow up faster than others your age and become the “man” of your family. And I remember all this not only because you told me, but because I could feel the pain and trauma that you carried in you. I could feel your insecurity in believing no one can love and stay in your life permanently. I could feel the weight of responsibility you had over yourself and your family.
And that is the person I choose to remember today. Not the monster who manipulated and lied his way into my body and soul. But the human being who is struggling with his own demons, as I am with mine. A human being who messes up badly but still deserves love, just like how I mess up and still deserve love.
Remember when I said I love you unconditionally? I still love you, but not in a romantic or hopeful way anymore. I love you as a human being. I don’t know if you still have the letter and love notes, and if you do then I don’t know why you keep them. But I hope that instead of being souvenirs that pump up your toxic masculinity, they are souvenirs that remind you that you are a lovable human being. Thank you for everything, the good and especially bad. Because you helped me realize how deeply loving and lovable I am and want to be.