I spoke with Flora the other week over the phone. It’s been at least a few months since I’ve communicated with her, let alone spoken to her. The intention was I guess ‘closure’ in some ways, but it actually turned out to be the complete opposite. All of it just reminded of why I fell in love with her in the first place, why I’m still in love with her, from the moment I heard her voice again.
For the most part, the conversation went well. If time was like physical space, it was as if we simply left ourselves in a spot down the street, and talking again was like backtracking a few paces to recover a dropped bag. Everything in its natural rhythm, its joyous cadence, its playful exchanges, almost as if we were still a couple. In some ways it makes me happy. It means that the spark between is still there. I just don’t know what she meant by any of it. I asked her not to talk about her romantic life, so maybe she’s in love with someone else, and just took the whole thing as a friendly encounter. I keep holding onto her words, meticulously dissecting them to see if maybe they meant more. Hoping they meant more. But I can’t really tell. I was too afraid to ask.
The original reason I called Flora was because I wanted to ask her to give me back my heart. I guess I feel like I’m still walking around as half a person, that something is missing. I didn’t ask her that in order for me to be open to dating other people, but to function in my life. I think one of the biggest things I learned through this whole ordeal is that love isn’t just about focusing on one other person and calling that love. It’s about how you live your life and living life with half a heart is painful. It fucking sucks, basically. I had been wanting to ask her to do this for quite some time now. I scripted it out and everything, about how I was going to make it all dramatic and that maybe she’d be ecstatic to know that I still loved her. Of course, none of it came out the way I wanted it to come out. It never does with Flora. That’s kind of the beauty that is her.
I don’t know what drove me to finally ask her to do this for me. For weeks I was afraid of asking her. I know it’s for my own well-being. I know that both symbolically and energetically, it would be what I needed to move on with my life. At the end of the day, none of this was for her, it was all for me. But I was still scared, because what if she gave my heart back? Then what would I do?
About half-an-hour into our conversation, I finally brought it up. It went something like this:
“Hey so the original reason I wanted to call you is because I need to talk to you about something…” Silence on the other end.
“Yeah?” she finally said.
“I still love you,” I started. “I’m still in love with you. Like before. Nothing has changed.”
“Exactly as it was from the first day I saw you…”
“That’s very poetic,” she finally said.
“No, it’s actually fucking up my life. I can’t date anyone. All I think about is you, you, you.” I could feel her blushing on the other side of the phone.
“But I’m not asking for my heart back to date anyone else,” I continued. “I’m asking for it back so I can move on with my life. I see now that a lot of what broke us apart was the insecurity I have, like day-to-day stuff and I need to work on that. I need my heart to do that.”
“I mean you don’t have to give it back, if you want it,” I tried. “But if you’re not going to use it, or take care of it, give it back to me.”
After a few more seconds of silence she finally said.
“No! It’s mine! I’m never letting it go!”
I’ll be honest. Something in my heart leaped when she said that. I didn’t know how to react. But she brought it back down when she continued.
“I shouldn’t joke like that. You’re being serious. Ok…” She took in a deep breath. “…I release it.”
I didn’t feel anything immediately when she said that. In fact, part of my heart must have chipped on its way back over when she said she was joking about it. Part of me wanted her to be serious, to be selfish, to want to hold on. I would have let her.
“…But I get to keep a piece of it!” she added.
I laughed a bit. “No. I need the whole thing,” I said.
She sort of sighed and thought about it for a few minutes. I imagine her rocking her head back and forth. Then she finally said,
“Ok. But I’m tattooing my name on it. We were a big part of each other’s lives. We have memories that you’ll never forget, I’ll never forget…”
“Yeah, honestly, sometimes I wish I could forget them…”
I wasn’t trying to be mean by saying what I said. It’s not that I don’t find our time together beautiful, in fact, they were the most beautiful moments of my life, but living in those thoughts is like a cruel trick. It’s like floating in the white tips of a cloud only to realize that you can’t grasp onto any of it. And she understood that I meant it in that way.
“Well…you won’t forget me. And I won’t forget you. That’s just how it is,” she said. “But you’re free now. ‘Free bird.’”
She said the last two words in English, just so I understood. I smiled because I missed the way she sounded in that language, and a rush of emotions came right after that.
It’s been nearly a year since I broke up with Flora and for whatever reason I have not recovered from that wound. It still hurts as the first day she told me that the feeling she once held for me had passed. I try desperately to move on with my life, but it is like all the turns are wrong, all the doors lead to nowhere, and the questions I have about my life still remain unanswered. At the end of the day, I still haven’t learned how to accept that I am no longer an important part of her life.
I know this situation doesn’t compare to the context of how this thought is normally used, but I understand why some people don’t want to be free. Sometimes, liberation really hurts. And if I am indeed “free”, I am very much a person who does not know what to do with his freedom.