This is my love story.

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It’s hard letting go.  Letting go feels an awful lot like giving up.  Problem is, no matter how many times you replay a series of events over and over again in your head, it doesn’t change the outcome.  It also doesn’t make the outcome any easier.  Yet, there’s a sense of closure that you wake up to, as gut-wrenching as it may be, and each day you begin to grieve less and breathe more.

These past few days have been some of my hardest.  I haven’t cried that hard in, well, ever.  Crying is a great release.  It is something that once I start, I have a hard time stopping.  Throughout it all, the ups and downs last year brought about, it’s time to release all this pain and chalk it up to the greatest, albeit, most difficult lesson I have come to experience and know.

I have gotten the closure I needed from these past transgressions with N.  I am not going to spend my time bad-mouthing him any longer.  I want this entry, the last of this saga, to provide insight and clarity. I want it to be a proper send-off to someone who meant the world to me for many years. This is a tearful goodbye for me, and I want to share it with you.

This is my website, and I can do as I please, but I do have a heart.  I have written many entries portraying him as a bad person.  While there is truth in my perspective and I won’t take down what I’ve already written, I am in a much better space today than I was four months ago.  My heart, despite everything, still beats for him.  It was never my desire to hurt him with either my words or actions.  I want to give a sense of justice to our story with as much respect and gratitude possible for everything learned.

This is my love story.  The story of M and N.

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Some people have a profound influence on you in just a short amount of time.  I will always remember the first time N and I spoke.  I found him on Instagram using our company’s hashtag designed to connect us with others around the world doing what we do.  After the exchange of just a few sentences, I knew this would be someone I would want to learn more about.  Strong in artistry but also history and linguistics, I was quick to fall in like with a brilliant, young man who had a way with words.

We met in person the fall of 2015 though we had been conversing since June of 2014.  We just so happened to be in the same city and state; he, visiting an acquaintance, and me, there for a sales conference.  The moment he entered the hotel, my heart started racing.  I had never seen anybody so beautiful, so handsome and so perfect.  I still can’t believe I didn’t know I was in love with him then.  Love at first sight?  For me, absolutely.

We spent the evenings having dinner (our favorite: Trace Burger), walking around the streets of San Francisco and experiencing each other’s company.  The times we spent in just a few days feel maximized to almost weeks in my mind.  I worked up the nerve to kiss him, but I also wanted to make sure he was comfortable with it, so I admitted to him my desire.  In what would come to be typical N fashion, he replied, “A kiss?  I don’t mind.  A kiss is just a kiss.  I’ve kissed many men in my day.”

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As I type that, I laugh because I didn’t think of that as wounding words to my ego.  I thought of it as an opportunity to do what others had, but to do it better.  Well, for me it was absolute heaven.  His lips were so soft, his body next to mine, and I felt in that instance that no one I’ve kissed has ever compared to that which I just experienced.

The day we both left San Francisco to return to our homes, we shared a taxi together.  I had written him a short but well-thought-out letter telling him how much I appreciated his company; that he taught me so much about love in a short amount of time.  I thought then that my experience with him would open me up to other men and allow me to fall in love with someone a bit more local.

He, too, had written me a letter which he hid in my laptop for me to find in the airport terminal.  The letter, as I have since reread it, is more of a thank you for friendship and a continuing of such relationship.  We both vowed that this would be a relationship we would hold dear to our hearts for the rest of our lives.  We also planned to see each other year-after-year as much as possible to continue our friendship.

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I remember sending him pictures of us once he returned home.  I even changed the background of my app to showcase a picture of him so that I would see it every time we conversed.  He asked me, “Are you in love with me?” My heart somewhat dropped, but I quickly picked it up because I thought to myself, “No, I’m not in love with him.  I love him, but I’m not in love with him.”  For some reason, I danced around the question.  Nerves that maybe he was asking because he was somehow in love with me?

“If I say I am not, and he is, that could hurt him,” I thought to myself.  “And if I say I am, and he isn’t in love with me, that could also hurt him.”  I panicked with my choices and tried to divert the question.  Eventually, he called me out and said I had not answered him sufficiently.  I knew I had to tell him what I believed was the truth at the time.  “No, N, I’m not in love with you.  I do love you, but I’m not ‘in love.'”

“Funny how a preposition can change the meaning altogether,” he replied.

Shortly after that conversation, my mentor and I were talking.  She asked me if I had ever fallen in love.  I wasn’t sure how to answer it, thinking back to other guys I had grown fond of and even that latest conversation with N, so I asked her to clarify.  When she explained her views on love, they consisted of things like, “You always think of the person.”  “You go to bed wanting to dream of them.”  “You see them in the supermarket even when they’re miles away.”  Everything she said, all I could think about was him and how in all of these instances, he is the person I saw in these ways.  I was always thinking of N.

I planned my days accordingly so I could talk to him at a decent hour being that he was in a time zone 7 hours ahead of me.  I would sometimes set my alarm to wake me up at 2 in the morning so I could send him a good morning text to start his day.  I had absolutely no idea up until then that I was head-over-heels madly in love with somebody that differed from me in age range, upbringing, culture, and distance.

I didn’t care.  I welcomed the thought of “us.”  I wanted to find ways to have him here with me no matter the cost.  I thought of meeting his family and friends over there, inviting him to my family’s Thanksgivings and Christmases, spending birthdays together, going on trips, you name it.  Soon, all of these ideas became a very surreal fantasy I mapped out in my head.  It seemingly became a “reality” too beautiful not to pursue.

But one thing was certain:  I had to confess that I was in love with him.  He deserved to know how I felt.  And while I knew he may not ever feel the same way about me, I thought there would still be a chance, so why not?

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I believe fate had brought us together in multiple ways and at numerous times.  How could I not entertain the idea that we were meant to share our lives together?  We both shared different ideas of what life would look like.  He was adamant about pursuing his career no matter where he went.  I personally felt I had always focused on my career and was stable, so to me, forming a relationship and eventually family would take precedence.

We spent hours over the span of months planning trips and sharing our ideas about traveling together, working together, seeing each other in our own elements.  Anytime we spoke of these acts, I continued to see us as a couple.

The day of my 29th birthday, I was back in San Francisco, this time rooming with one of my closest friends from work, Eley.  If you know me, my birthdays are important because I wasn’t supposed to live this long as a child.  I was tested year-after-year for HIV/AIDS since my mother was positive when she gave birth to me.  My birthdays are a day to remember how beautiful my life has been, and that I get to claim another year from death’s bony grasp!

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By 6:30 AM, the text messages and phone calls began rolling in.  I checked my Facebook and received multiple well-wishes.  I was even delivered flowers to my hotel room from one of my closest friends, Christina!  (Side note: She picked up on what hotel I was staying at and where simply by making conversation with me before the trip.  Little did I know she was doing that to surprise me with a vase of some of my favorites!)  As you can imagine, the one person I was most excited to hear from was N.  But I knew he was probably busy, and that I’d hear from him later on that day.  It was time to get ready for our meetings.

Well, the day started off with my team singing me happy birthday.  There were balloons and notes and little gifts, and it truly made me feel wonderful.  Each time I got the chance, I would check my phone to see if he had messaged me.  Nothing.  By 2 o’clock in the afternoon for me, it was already midnight the 15th for him, so it wouldn’t feel as special to me if I got a message from him then.  By 7 PM, I returned to the hotel room with Eley.  He asked me if I had a good birthday.  I told him I had, and he went to shower.  While he showered, I just balled.

It didn’t matter that my closest friends and family had all wished me a happy day.  I wanted to hear from N.  I wanted him to tell me, “Of all the people I’ve come to know, you are the most special.  Of all days for me to think of you, today is the day.  This is all for you.”  But I didn’t get that.  In fact, I didn’t get any real acknowledgment of such until the next day, right around 2 PM.  That means it was already January the 16th for him being that I was on PST.

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I was hurt.  I couldn’t believe that he would message me a day late.  I replayed his message over and over again and saw no real excitement in his voice.  He actually sounded tired, almost forced.

On the way to the airport, I played the message Eley to ask his opinion.  Eley knew N through me, and he always seemed to be present when I needed advice. What I love about Eley is his ability to give loving advice without judgment or anger towards the other person.

I really didn’t know what I should do, but I knew I didn’t feel okay with N’s message.  Eley mirrored my sentiments and stated that it sounded like “he had to wish you a happy birthday” versus genuinely wanting to.  I had all but settled my mind until the taxi driver chimed in.

“If I may say so, he did, in fact, tell you he loved you in the message.”

I told him that he did not.  That I would have heard such a thing.

“No, he did.  He said it three times, I believe.”

Who was this guy, butting into a private conversation?  I found it a bit rude but decided to listen once again to the message looking for the “I love yous.”  Sure enough, he was right.  Three “I love yous” in the message that my friend nor I picked up the first time around.  That changed things a bit for me, but by the time I got to the airport, I knew what I had to do.

I was flying from San Francisco to LA, then LA back home.  On the plane back home, I wrote N a long message telling him that I was going to take some time and space to “un-fall-in-love” with him.  It was only fair to him considering he didn’t feel that way for me, and it certainly would save me a lot of heartache in the end.  With that, I took some time to focus on my work which was picking up.  He took a few days to reply back and told me he would respect my decision and keep his distance.  He reminded me he didn’t want me to have hard feelings between us but understood.

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A few weeks later, I was in New York City; one of my favorite places to be.  I was conducting a three-day training. I still thought of N every night.  I thought that once we got over this rough patch, I would find a way to bring him to the city to explore and experience the bright lights and tall buildings.  I remember having breakfast each morning alone, looking at the app we used to communicate checking to see if he was online.  I would sometimes start typing to him, then I’d stop myself because I realized I hadn’t given myself enough time.  I still loved him.

On the third day of the training, I started feeling off.  My back began to kill me, and I knew that meant more than likely one thing: a kidney stone.  I went to the restroom and guzzled water hoping to pop that sucker out quickly so I wouldn’t alarm the class.  Eventually, the pain grew stronger, dropping me to the floor.  I couldn’t breathe, I was in so much pain.  The district manager at the time called for an ambulance and soothed me until they arrived.  I was taken to the hospital in a city far from home to hopefully find some relief.

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Unfortunately, there was no relief to be found.  This wasn’t like an episode of Nurse Jackie where I was immediately treated and pumped full of fluids.  I was vomiting and shaking because of the pain, and I just wanted to be home at that point.  I kept requesting water but was told no.  I requested to use the bathroom but was told they needed a sample.  I waited for an hour before my two friends showed up with a bottle of water and some gum (vomit breath is never cute, FYI).  When no one was looking, I would drink the water in the hopes it would push out the stone and I could return to my hotel.

Eventually, I was allowed to pee so long as I gave them a sample.  I went and what do ya know?  The stone pops out, and I’m feeling back to my normal self again.  I am discharged, take a photo of the Emergency Room sign and have dinner with my friends.  I uploaded the picture to my then-Instagram page stating how lovely of an evening I just had.

The next day while I’m breaking down the training room’s set up, I receive a message from N.  He saw the picture and was worried, but then said he read my comments and knew I was okay.  He just wanted to check in.  We conversed lightly and concluded with him telling me he thinks I need more time apart.  He was right, but at the time, I was devastated.  I wanted to open back up to him, and of course, that would mean going against my “unloving him” phase.

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Alone and sad is how I spent my time.  I can turn it on when I’m on stage, but when the lights are off and I’m taking off the costume, I delve back into this lonely despair of wanting what I can’t have.  It was my first real winter in the north.  Snow covered the ground.  The winds practically froze my lips off anytime I was outside.  I experienced heartache and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) altogether.  I truly wanted to disappear from this life and be born into a new one.

One morning, I woke up to a text from him.  It was heartfelt and meaningful.  It reminded me of all the reasons I fell in love with him.  I couldn’t help it.  He was the first person I ever truly thought could be “it,” you know?  I can’t “unlove” him.  It’s different from unfriending someone online.  This is who I longed for.  This is the person I enjoyed most in my life these days.  He could easily make me smile with his words and, my God, after everything we had gone through at that point, I’d be crazy not to keep going, right?

“And if you thought this would stop me from making plans to come see you, you’re wrong,” he said.  My.  Heart.  Melted.  I was so glad he didn’t have regrets about making plans to see me.  I kept telling myself, “You can love him, just don’t be in love with him.  He doesn’t want that from you.  Be a friend, a real friend.”

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Over the course of the year, we had a few ups and downs.  But by spring, he had already booked his plane ticket.  We were now four months out before he would spend nearly two weeks with me.  I was the most excited I have ever been.  I just knew we would have the best time together, fall back in love, reconnect and have a hell of a time laughing!  I told anyone who would listen about him.  I was gushing, beaming ear-to-ear.  My friends and family were so happy to see me so in love.

I knew he wanted to see a drag show, so I found out that Priscilla, Queen of the Desert was playing up in Maine.  Not quite what he had in mind, but it technically was a drag show of sorts.  I booked us a two-day trip up there close to the beach on Labor Day weekend.  I wanted him to see Boston, so we would take a train in and just explore.  I remembered from our first initial conversations him telling me that going to Universal Studios in Orlando was on his bucket list, so I booked us a trip there.  He wanted to get a tattoo, so sure enough, I got him an artist who does phenomenal work.

I was so giddy to give him this trip of a lifetime, and even more excited to surprise him each day with something new.  I kept a journal for him, chronicling my planning and our conversations.  Each entry ended with a heart.  I took that journal with me nearly everywhere I went.  I carved out many evenings just so I could write to him knowing one day, he would read my words and understand how I felt.  Would it change anything?  I don’t know, but I wanted to give something very personal to him outside of these little trips.

Time grew nearer and yet felt further away.  The closer the date came for him to visit, the more I felt I wouldn’t see him.  I would imagine me on a work trip getting into an accident causing me to not see him.  I would imagine something catastrophic happening in his country preventing him from coming to America.  Eventually, there was a government take-over resulting in a loss of power, policeman on nearly every street and bombings nearby.

We were on the phone together, and I could hear his panic.  I thought to myself that if I just kept talking to him, there would be no way I could lose him.  I downloaded an app to give me the latest updates.  I needed to know exactly what was happening at all times.  We got disconnected a few times, and with the power being out and his family being away, he needed to keep a decent charge on his phone.  I thought, “if I lose this boy, I will lose everything.  I will have no reason to keep going anymore.”  That night was one of the worst experiences I have ever had with someone I loved.

Fortunately, he and his family were safe, and their lives went back more-or-less to the same a few days later.  There was a ban on international flights up to the very day before he was to leave to see me.  He convinced me that he everything would work out and that he would see me in September come hell or high water.  I was skeptical given everything that just happened but held on to the hope that we would be reunited just a year after meeting for the first time in person.

September came, and right before I was to go on my two-week vacation with him, I was back in New York City doing multiple trainings.  But, as the story goes, history has a way of repeating itself.  So guess what ailment afflicted me once more?  Another kidney stone.  This time, however, I would be damned if I went to the hospital.  And, I came prepared.  I had brought painkillers from home that I had been prescribed with stones in the past.

I never drank so much water.  My thoughts ranged from, “Naturally, I would have a kidney stone attack right before he came,” to “I’ll probably be on the road, have an attack and be killed never seeing him,” to “If I can’t pop this bitch up out of me before he comes, we won’t have any fun, and it will ruin all of the things I have planned for him.”  Every day, I took a pill just to be on the safe side.

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Well, the day finally arrived.  He was coming!  I would see him sometime between 5:30 and 7:00 PM, depending on customs.  I had a local florist design a bouquet of all his favorite flowers, I had dinner in the crock pot waiting at home, and even had my friend, Kate, who has a key to my apartment, come by a few minutes before we got home to have some lights turned on and candles lit.  Everything was perfect.

I remember waiting and waiting.  I watched the screen like a hawk to see when his plane would land.  I was so unbelievably excited and nervous and ready to get my hands on him.  I didn’t care how tired he was when he arrived because I knew we would be sleeping next to each other that night and all the nights after.  To me, he was worth everything I spent and had planned for this trip just so I could wake up to his beautiful face every morning.

When people started walking out of the doors, I kept envisioning it being him.  I mean, 70+ people had to have come out of those doors, but none were him.  I had to pee so bad, but I was afraid if I moved from my spot, I would miss the opportunity to greet him.  I made certain to get there early enough to get the best spot outside of the custom doors.  The moment he would walk out and look up, he would see me, smile and all.

When he finally came out, his eyes were on the floor.  He looked drained (and rightfully so… that’s a ten-hour flight!)  The vision I had for us seeing each other for the first time was nothing like the reality.  You always see in movies when people greet each other at an airport, how excited they are, how much they scream, and in that moment, nothing else in the world matters.  When we finally locked eyes, I gave him a hug, kissed him on the cheeks and took his luggage in exchange for the bouquet. My beautiful boy had finally arrived safe and sound.

This was it!  The beginning of a wonderful trip with my favorite person.  Everything I had worked so hard for would finally pay off.  I would show him what being here with me would look like long-term in just a short two-week span.  I would introduce him to so many of my friends that would become his friends when he moved here with me.  I would take care of him like I planned to if we were “officially dating,” so that when he did eventually go back home, all he would have to do is prepare to come back to me for a much longer period of time.  I was going to give him the vacation he deserved no matter what and set the tone for what “our future” could hold.

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The third night together, while eating dinner, I confessed to him how much I had fought in my life all to get to this point.  I had wanted to give up many times in the past.  With the loss of my parents and grandfather, I didn’t know how life could ever make sense again.  Going through my liver treatment was no walk in the park.  Leaving MAC Cosmetics to move to another state with another brand was difficult because it meant leaving everything I ever knew behind.  And all of it was worth it because of this time we had together.  It meant I finally got something right.  I had what I wanted.

I was inexcusably in love with the man who sat in front of me.  I believed everything up until that moment was worth the pain and suffering.  I believed our little spats and how we would get over them were a testament to a strong foundation of friendship.  I wanted him to see my heart pound and bleed for him.  I wanted to offer him the world and would fight anything and anyone to give that to him.

Unfortunately, I learned that night that he did not love me as I, him.  He was, in fact, in love with another.  My heart dropped.  I couldn’t look at him.  I heard his words but felt my soul moving elsewhere.  “It isn’t who or what you think.”  My first thought was a friend of his back in his country I had come to know over the years.  “It isn’t him.”  It was like he was reading my mind.  “I’m in love with myself.  I want to spend this time being selfish.”

Well, better than what I thought, but still…  How could you want to love yourself and not be loved by someone else?  I couldn’t wrap my head around his intentions.  Then I realized he said what he said, not to hurt me, but because it was the truth for him.  I wish I had listened.  He was speaking his truth which I would come to know later, but that would have saved me so much time in the end.  But I didn’t.  I didn’t want to give him up.

Over the course of our time together, we got into fights.  Sometimes over little things, sometimes over bigger issues. There were times I would make him cry.  There were times he would make me cry.  No matter what, though, I made sure we didn’t go to bed at night with anger in our hearts, even if that meant saying sorry first.

Because of the kidney stones, he insisted I eat more parsley.  His mother had told him it was a great way to rid the body of such impurities.  Parsley is a part of their every day cuisine, but for me, I never acquired a taste for it.  Right before we were off to Orlando to visit Universal Studios, I doubled-over in pain.  I don’t remember receiving much comfort then.  I was able to pass the stone after some time in the bathroom.  Turns out, there were two of them causing me the pain.  What a joy.

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What we shared throughout our trip is still something I don’t want to spend my time writing about in this forum.  I do want to share one memory that is my favorite.  It involves our trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  We spent three days up in the Smoky Mountains, just the two of us.  It was here that I decided to give him the journal I had been keeping.

“As a lover of history, I want you to have something that showcases a piece of ours.  For the past four months, I have kept this from you knowing that one day, you would read it.  Inside, I hope you find that my heart has been poured onto each page for you.  No matter what, N, I love you.  I have always loved you, and I will always love you.  You are the treasure I love most in this world.”

Tears filled his eyes.  “This is too much,” he said, but we just hugged and cried together.  I knew that our time together on this trip was coming to an end, but that our relationship in whatever capacity was only beginning.  Throughout everything, I meant every word I said to him.  He needed to know that of all the people in the world that are out there, here is someone who loved him with all his heart.  I would have ripped it out with my bare hands and given it to him had he asked.

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I’ll never forget the last day he was here.  We had just flown back home from Tennessee, both exhausted from all the traveling.  My friend Christina (the same one who sent me the flowers on my 29th birthday) and her girlfriend picked us up from the airport.  It was N’s first time meeting them and a great way, I thought, for him to see a gay relationship in real life since that isn’t super common where he’s from.

We got back to the apartment, and as I’m pulling our luggage out of the back, I see that my bookbag isn’t there.  I look in the backseat to see if I had misplaced it, but it wasn’t there either.  I began to panic.  My bookbag contained my work and personal iPad, my speaker, some clothing, but most importantly and unbeknownst to N at the time, the journal I gave him.  I had taken it out of his luggage and into mine because I gave it to him earlier than I expected.  I wanted to wake up early on his last day and have pictures of our trip printed out and placed into the back of the journal where there was a flap.

I couldn’t believe I had lost it.  The one thing that was most important to me for him to have was gone!  And it wouldn’t have been if I hadn’t taken it out of his luggage.  I failed.  I really messed up.  But, God Almighty, I was determined to drive back to the airport and search for it.  I felt so bad for him.  He was so tired but wanted to go with me to the airport to see where I had left it.  I was almost positive I left it on the bench outside of the drop-off area.

It felt like it took all of eternity getting there.  It was already an hour away, but being tired prolonged it in my mind.  He fell asleep on the drive, and I kept looking over at him hoping he wouldn’t hate me if the journal was lost forever.  When we got to the airport, I hopped out of the car with the hazard lights on and rushed to the bench I knew I left it.  It wasn’t there.  I ran inside and looked up and down the places we had been.  I tried to find lost and found, but they had already closed.

I was devastated.  I could see that he, too, was devastated.  He wanted to read my words just as much as I wanted him to.  We got in the car, defeated, and I started telling him what I remember writing about as if that would make up for what was lost.  It wasn’t the same thing, but it was better than nothing, I guess.

That night, we lay in bed, exhausted from the day, and something happened between us.  We began feeling each other’s bodies more and more until eventually, I gave mine to his.  I had waited 29 years of my life to give that away because I always knew I wanted to do it with someone I was completely and utterly in love with.  And now, it was happening.  We had fooled around previously during the trip, but nothing led to going all of the way.  It was completely unexpected to me, and yet, so wonderful at the time.

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The next morning, after a bit of round two, I went to the guest bathroom and texted my mentor.  I told her about me losing my backpack at the airport.  Within minutes, she called me back because she had gotten ahold of someone with Lost and Found.  After describing the bookbag and its contents, the gentleman said he had in fact found it.

“Is there a white journal in there still?”  That’s all I cared about.  An iPad or speaker can be replaced, but a journal?  No.

“Yes, I have an iPad, no, two iPads–”

“That’s okay.  I just need the journal.  Thank you, sir.”

I set up a time to pick it up before N was to leave and we were all set.

The last day of his being here is a day I’ll never forget.  I was in tears all day knowing I had to give him up that evening.  Sure, we had fought a lot.  We made each other upset and said things we probably regret, but I knew, I knew, he would be someone I would love forever and ever.

He had fallen asleep when I was on the phone with Lost and Found.  I sat on the bed next to him, silently.  I watched him breathe in and breathe out.  I caressed his hair, his back, gave him little kisses.  I whispered to him, “I love you, baby.  So much.”  I woke him up with my tears.  He quietly said, “I love you, too,” and pulled me in to lay on his soft chest.

After breakfast, he stood there as I mourned my loss.  It felt like he was dead, yet, standing right in front of me in corporeal form.  I wrapped my arms around his body and said, “Promise me you’ll come back to me.  Please.”

He told me, “I cannot promise that to you.  What if something happens?  I don’t want to hurt you.”

I understood his reasoning, but it still hurt.  All I wanted was for him to say he would come back and mean it, even if it didn’t happen.  I didn’t want to let go.  I didn’t want to take him to the airport.  I wanted him here, with me, forever.  I wanted him to forget everything about his life back home and start anew with me.  I was worth loving, and I wanted his love more than anything.

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As the day went on, more tears fell.  I received one final gift for him at the last minute; a picture I had my talented friend, Jenn, draw up of one of my favorite pictures of him with my cats.  I asked her to put a symbol that we used often to describe our love for each other: a green heart.  Green hearts filled the picture, and his likeness was spot on.  I couldn’t control it anymore.  I just balled and balled when handing him the picture.

He loved it but insisted on me keeping it to remember him by.  At first, I combatted this thought telling him it was always meant to be for him.  But when N wants something, he usually gets it.  I kept the photo and frame, deciding I would place it somewhere I could always see when I was at home and see him when he wasn’t there anymore.

I could barely eat that day.  I decided to make us burgers as a small nod to our love of Trace Burger back in San Francisco.  All I did was stare at him and try not to cry.  The more I tried not to, I would.  He put on a white sweatshirt that day.  He looked so handsome although I could tell he was holding back his emotions since mine were all out on the table.  We went into my bathroom, and as I was shaving, he told me I should shave my beard entirely.  I asked him if he would as well, and he agreed to.  I had always loved his facial structure, and his beard obstructed me from seeing it.

There we were, beardless and sad, knowing it was about time to head to the airport.  I held onto him, tears probably falling on his shoulders.  We got to the airport hours earlier just to be on the safe side.  Checking in didn’t take as long as I thought thankfully, so we could spend the rest of our time talking.  I took one of the airline’s bag tags as a souvenir to remember that time by.

I let him walk in front of me. I was busy counting his steps behind him.  I wanted to remember the moments leading up to his departure as a time I could stand back and just love him, all of him.

I’m crying now just thinking about it.  I look back after everything that has happened to us and think about how happy I was just being with him.  These were the best times of my life.  They’re also some of the cruelest times I could ever experience in this lifetime.

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We got up to the gate where we had a few more minutes.  Now, he was breaking down.  I knew I had to be strong and not cry in this moment.  He looked at me, tears streaming down his perfect cheeks, and he said to me, “I am sorry for ever breaking your heart.”

I told him, “You never broke my heart, baby.  You filled it up so much.  More than I ever could imagine.  Don’t ever forget that.”

We hugged, and he told me, “I promise, I will come back to you.”  Those words I would hold onto until he did.  The very words I wanted to hear that morning, I was hearing now.  And I believed him.

I kept the tissue he cried into.  I wanted to keep anything and everything I possibly could and store it away so that these times would forever be remembered.  I walked him over to the gate as far as I could go and knew that would be the last time I saw him in person for a long time, maybe ever.  I didn’t want to believe I wouldn’t ever see him again, but deep down, I knew he was right.  Something could happen.  And we may never see each other in this lifetime side-by-side.

Still, I didn’t cry.  I watched him until he became invisible, but not before he looked back one more time.  I said out loud, “I love you, N.  I will always love you,” even though I knew he wouldn’t hear me.

We texted before he boarded his plane.  He found some comfort with a woman who came to visit her son, I believe.  They both cried and held each other, and I walked back to my car alone.  I told myself to wait until I got there before I let it all out.  I didn’t want to fall weak before actually getting inside my car.

I got there and called my cousin, Hannah.  I told her everything about that day that meant something to me.  The journal, us making love, our goodbyes, and never once did I cry.  I was on the road heading back home leaving a memory of my first love behind at the airport.

When I got home, I remembered that earlier, I had found a little note that N had hidden in my freezer.  “I am freezing.  Can you warm me?”  I knew he had left notes around my apartment for me to find.  I instantly went to search for them and found several.  It was like an Easter egg hunt between lovers.  That was when I broke down.  That was when it felt real.

I looked all around the apartment remembering us cuddling up on the sofa.  I remember us tickling each other and laughing.  I remember his luggage on the floor by my window.  My home felt so empty without him in it.  I fell to the floor and just cried with all his love notes around me.  I gasped for air.  How could he leave me?  How could he go back home when he had a second home here with me?

I was so mad and yet, fell deeper in love with him.  Even as I type now, these memories so fluid for me, I can’t help but feel almost exactly like I did that night.  The screen is blurry from my tears right now.

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Everything about that time felt like a dream to me.  In many ways, it still does.  It kills me knowing we ended how we did, this website detailing most of it.  I started an entry speaking about how much I loved him and needed him, knowing I had to pull back for him to get what he really wanted.  I knew I couldn’t make him truly happy, but I wanted to believe that, I, of anyone he had come to know, could help shape him into being a better man.  I believed if he just took a chance and moved here with me, our lives would have true purpose.  I wanted to promise him forever and vowed to give him everything I could.

Then, we just exploded.  I couldn’t handle it anymore.  One fight led into another. I tried so hard to show him love, only to be met with careless words.  I blocked him from communicating with me and kept writing.  I was never so hurt by somebody.  Never could I imagine he and I, of all people, would experience such a tumultuous falling out.

I wrote him a 14-page goodbye letter along with torn out journal entries from the new journal I was writing to him.  I sent back a bracelet he gave me; one he wore all the time and presented to me to have. I wanted to hurt him like he hurt me.  I wanted him to see the consequences of his actions; that I was giving up.  I hoped he would see my heartbreak and change for the better.

While writing on the blog helped, and I tried in all honesty to recount the truth as I saw it, I knew my words would find their way back to him.  I knew there was a chance of potentially hurting him with what I had to say about everything.  Sometimes, I cared about that.  Sometimes, I didn’t.  I wanted him to read about how hurt and almost ashamed I was for loving someone who could so easily destroy me in a matter of minutes.  I wanted him to see what he had done to me through my own words.  I wanted him to mourn the loss of me while I mourned the loss of him.

A slew of memories came to me as I wrote, and obviously, not the beautiful ones.  I remember what we fought about and why I got so angry.  I remember the times I felt betrayed, belittled, made to believe I was the one who was crazy and overly emotional and blinded by love.  I remember the anger stage that caused me to turn many of my close friends against him.  I tried to balance each conversation with a “this is just my perspective,” but the damage had been done.  Some of my friends have since told me that they had never seen me this depressed before.

For four months, I mourned the loss of my first love.  We wouldn’t end up together after all.  He wouldn’t be coming back to see me.  I knew this, and I think he knew this.  We dealt with our grief differently.  I would get on his Instagram page and see him living his life post-me, and that killed me even more.  I thought, “Surely, he would take a hiatus or something.  I had.”  But his posts kept on coming being liked by the masses.  I felt justified in my writing.  “If he can go on as if I don’t exist and never mattered, I’ll continue writing to get out all of my hurt,” I told myself and my therapist.

Here I was, a shell of who I thought I could ever be.  I dreamed of him every single night for two months.  I cried almost every day, and every day I didn’t cry, I raged.  I prayed for death.  I wanted to end up dead somewhere in a ditch.  I wanted to never feel again.

Then I thought about fighting and channeling my energy elsewhere.  I started to pray that he would have dreams of me and realize what he had lost.  I prayed he would be the one to reach out to me and ask for forgiveness and promise to make it up to me.

I unblocked him, and when we did actually speak, things just escalated.  In my eyes, he was a monster; a monster I still loved even though I tried with all my might to walk away.  We said goodbye several times.  Sometimes I cried.  Sometimes I told him to fuck off.  Sometimes he smiled at me at my lowest point, and I just thought, “How can you be so cruel to me?  I loved you.  I fucking loved you, N.”

How, how could someone do this to me when all I did was give him everything I could?  Why was I the one being punished?  Why did I still love him when it was so clear he never felt this way towards me?  Why was it seemingly so easy for him to move on and use green hearts with others when that was “our thing?”

Months went by.  He did eventually reach out, but I was unmoved.  I had finally felt like I had moved on and needed to not engage in conversation with him.

“You hate me, don’t you?  I can tell,” N said in response to my short messages back.  I couldn’t muster a thought.  It was so unexpected for me to be hearing from him at this point.  I truly believed it was over; that we had said our goodbyes, and that we were both heading in a direction opposite of each other.  I felt lucky that at that moment, I was with a dear friend of mine that I have known for years.  My mind didn’t know where to go or what to do.

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I didn’t talk to or reach out to N for a month.  Then, a shooting occurred in N’s country prompting me to panic.  Did I still have feelings for him?  How would I feel knowing something bad happened to him and we ended like we did?  Is he okay?  My heart told me to reach out, but my mind said not to.

My friend Isabella gave me the advice to find out if he was okay, though not necessarily reaching out to him.  “Surely there’s someone you can contact that knows how he is.  I would want to know if it were me.”  So with that, I reached out to his sister who I still had a phone number to.  She told me that everyone they know are doing fine, but living where they are is a scary place.  I couldn’t agree with her more.  I even told N a long time ago that I would be willing to bring he and his family all over here and we could live together safe from their country’s constant turmoil.

I went to bed a little easier, but something still felt off.  I figured it was a sign for me to actually reach out to him.  And I did.  He was very appreciative of me checking in on him.  We made a little small talk.  Nothing about the past four months came up really.  And that was that.

Then about a week later, I got a message from him.  I was taking my cat to the vet when I received the messages.  I had some time before my appointment, so we conversed.  I wanted to bring up what happened and see if he was open to discussing it.  N has never been one to open up much about things, particularly if they involve fighting.  His method is to take the bad, throw it away and move on.  Not a bad theory, I’ll say, but when there have been feelings and hearts involved, one deserves to have a little discussion about a major falling out.

It wasn’t the right time or place, but I did open up to him about things that had bothered me between us.  I knew though, that he nor I were in the mindset to talk so in-depth, especially over texting.  I requested that in order for us to have any further involvement with each other, he would need to open up and be willing to candidly speak about things.

The weekend of my 30th birthday came, and I wanted nothing more than to enjoy the company of my close friends.  This is a milestone birthday, and knowing how I feel about my birthdays, one can expect me to live it up.  I sent him a quick message telling him that I don’t want to discuss any “heavy shit” this weekend, but anytime after Monday evening would work.  He agreed, and off I went to have my birthday extravaganza!

By Tuesday morning, I knew it was time.  Time for us to have “the talk.”  I requested us to have a conversation that day, which he was available for.  I did a training that morning, the whole time nervous about what to expect from the call I would have a mere three hours later.

When the time came and I saw his name pop up, I knew that this may very well be the last time I ever see it popping up on my screen.  I went into the conversation thinking we both would get some closure, but at the end decide to say our true goodbyes.

I won’t disclose what was discussed on the call in great detail here out of respect for his and my relationship.  What I will say is that I did indeed get to voice my thoughts to him about everything.  I am not usually one who bottles things up, but I had many questions about certain things that had happened to us in the two-and-a-half years of knowing each other.  It feels so much longer than that, to be honest.  So much happened in that time.

What I will say is, we ended the call on a very happy note.  It was time for me to truly forgive him for everything.  Everything I have previously written about on this blog was brought up.  I didn’t hold back.  I spoke my truth.  And for the first time in our relationship, I felt he truly validated me.  While he, too, had key points to share and questions to ask in regards to me, he admitted and apologized for what has happened over the course of our history together.  I was not expecting that at all.  I was not expecting to have any moment where I would actually laugh with him ever again.

I felt so relieved, so happy.  I felt like everything I have ever believed about communication between loved ones was true: When two people are willing to openly communicate, you can solve anything.  I went to bed with a smile on my face knowing I could put to rest the many months of anguish.

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The following day came, and perspective prompted me to make the hardest decision of my life.  I had offered N a second chance despite everything.  I told him that, “Maybe I’m the one person whose heart you can break into a million pieces that you’ll learn something from and be a better person because of.”  I thought about what our friendship would and could look like from that standpoint.  I even gave him rules to our conversations.  “No talk about work, no talk about men.  I only want you to ask how I’m doing and earn my trust.  I’ve spent two-plus years giving everything to you.  It is time you give some back to me and make me the focus.”

I believe he is more aware than ever at what he did and has done, but I don’t believe he has discovered the “why” behind it.  To be honest, I was met with objection from some of my closest friends about us making up.  “He hurt you before.  He will hurt you again.”  I didn’t want to listen to the words they were saying because in my mind and in my heart, all was forgiven.  It doesn’t mean it was forgotten, but maybe I am the only person who could experience that and come back with an open heart and mind to giving someone another chance at being a better person.  Maybe I had to see this through to the other side for the both of us?

But I realized something…

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I still love N.  I think a part of me will always love him.  Despite all his shortcomings and the many things he did that crushed me as a human being, the only true way for me to have closure is to walk away from him.  I had to make it to where we could not communicate any further, despite ending on a high note after our last conversation.  I have missed his voice, his laugh, his pronunciation of words.  If I’m being honest, I opened myself up to loving him again.

I can’t not love him right now; I’m too raw.  But I need to experience a different type of love.  So does he.  He needs to self-reflect and grow and make plenty more mistakes.  And I would be a fool to stick around waiting to see such change when we are both so far away.

I don’t know if he will ever understand why I did what I did, at least, not anytime soon.  I wrote to him one last time a farewell letter to end all farewell letters before thwrating his attempts to reach out to me via text and call.  I know I could never be what he needs in order to be fulfilled.  I tried so hard to be what I thought I could to meet his expectations.  They were unrealistic and highly unachievable, whatever they may be.  Similarly, it has taken a long time to wrap my head around the fact that being my first means there will be a second and a third.  First does not mean last.

It has taken months to get to this point.  In all honesty, I wasn’t so sure I could get there.  I miss him every single day.  We spoke nearly every day for over two years.  But I have to remind myself what actions brought us here to begin with.  I loved him in a way he couldn’t love in return.  He had his own way of loving me, and it wasn’t enough.  What makes me think things will ever change if I don’t?

You can’t make someone love you.  You can ask them to, but that doesn’t mean it will stick.  I truly did everything I thought possible to make him his happiest.  I offered him everything I could think of to do so.  He, too, did what was innate for him.  We shared so many beautiful, real moments together, and some moments I think back and just question the meaning.  It is so much easier to see things as they are when you’re no longer on the inside.

I guess it’s because it is easier being on the outside telling others what they should do than being on the inside telling yourself what to do.  I know what I should have done long ago, but I just couldn’t do it.  I was too in love, and there was nothing and no one that could tell me otherwise.

Instead, I am left with memories and pictures and dreams of a time and a person that I will keep close to me for the rest of my life.  My heart is still broken, but it is slowly repairing itself.  N was one of the most influential persons I have ever come to know.  He has helped me to grow in ways I never thought I could.

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Letting go feels awful.  It hurts.  I am absolutely devastated by this whole situation.  What I need now though is to move onward and upward and believe in myself once again.  I was doing so well before.  I know I can do it again.

In reading many others’ opinions about “getting over an ex-love,” most seem to suggest taking the good memories you have and remembering a bad one to offset it.  I tried it today, and it actually does work.  But being the person I am, I want to remember the person I was during that time.  I felt so alive, so impassioned, so in love.  I can now look back at everything I’ve experienced and written on these blogs in these two-and-a-half years and smile.

We went through a lot, you and me.  A roller coaster of emotions.  While I don’t know what the future holds for either one of us, I do know there is a future out there to be explored.  Right now, however, it doesn’t seem that you and I will be walking side-by-side into it.  I hate it, but we both chose that with our actions.

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Loving hard is so rewarding.  Not just when things work out, but when you can look back and remember how wonderful you felt throughout.  There’s a sense of confidence and insecurity that walk hand-in-hand.  The moments I held N’s soft hands are some of my fondest.  Holding a pillow, dreaming it was him pales in comparison to the moments when he would let me hold him before he got too hot under the covers.  And our kisses… I will miss kissing those lips of his.

We spent a total of 16 days in person with each other over the course of two-and-a-half years.  Those 16 days are among my most cherished.

Being in love is a magical experience.  It will rip your insides out and complete you, that’s for sure.  It will leave you feeling whole, crushed, beautiful, hideous, together, alone.  It is an array of feelings and thoughts, hopes and dreams, plans and ideas.  It is a series of conversations, letters written, emotions poured out, tears shed and laughs heard.  It is more than I could have every expected or dreamed.

N, if you’re reading this, know that you are somebody I will never forget.  Loving you was a dream for me.  You were my beautiful boy, my handsome man.  I know I promised I wouldn’t write about you anymore on this blog in my goodbye letter, but our story is one that has shaped me into the person I have become.  I hope it will shape you in ways you have yet to understand.  You have moved me in many ways, and I will always be thankful for what I learned, experienced and loved from and within you.

If our paths should never cross again, I want you to remember this…

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Goodbye, my love.  I will always remember you. x1f49a-png-pagespeed-ic-y-252mje1w

 

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