Like most people my trajectory through life has been filled with tests and lessons. If school prepared me for anything it certainly wasn’t a career, but an ability to recognize when I was about to be graded.
Returning to LA was a test on both my relationship and my ability to be loved and reciprocate love. I failed.
The first week was blissful and sweet. We met each others friends and took each other to our favorite places. We nuzzled and fondled and pulled the car over to the side of the road to have panic-stricken emergency sex on the side of Santa Monica Boulevard.
Cole’s catch-phrase during those days was an awed “So THIS is how it would be.”
Apparently Cole was a changed man. His friends were amazed at his open declarations of love. I just thought it was normal. We talked a lot about each others pasts and I kept no secrets. Cole did. Dark things had happened to him that he wasn’t ready to divulge. I didn’t push, but I did wonder.
At the end of the week, just before I was to return to Fiji, as planned, I got an email.
The email was from my clients, telling me they’d run out of money for the project and would I mind delaying my return? Cole was ecstatic. I was scared. I had no money, no work-visa and no idea what I would do. The idea of relying on Cole, even for a few short weeks, weighed on me. I started to withdraw.
My body tensed.
The monster awoke.
My emotional synapses went haywire.
It was a simple fact that procuring a visa for me to return to the US was going to be really difficult. I had lived there for too long without applying for a Green Card. In order to move back it would take time and money that I didn’t have, and was not prepared to borrow. I was convinced that if by allowing Cole to help me he would lose respect for me. That I would lose respect for myself.
I’d had a relationship for five years that had deteriorated because of similar issues and I wasn’t going to risk it. So I flatly refused any assistance. Now I know that there’s a middle ground, that it’s possible to accept a hand with grace and fortitude when it is offered with love and candor.
Sometimes you have to learn the hard way.
Cole hired me a car and gave me some money. I don’t even know if I was
gracious about accepting it. We started to talk about the future and
things took a turn for the worse.
At one point Cole offered the biggest gift of all. He proposed that we get married.
I turned him down.
I cry as I write this, not because I still feel regret, but because by writing it I’m tapping into something I’ve buried for a couple of years. There are moments in life when everything changes and we alight on different paths. It’s sad. Sad to know that I will NEVER know the outcome of that other path.
The truth is that I’d never wanted to get married before. Cole was the first person who stirred those feelings in me. I wanted to say yes with all of my being, but I didn’t, and I will never know the outcome of our lives if I had said one single word differently.
Once the multitude of difficulties ahead were revealed I became embittered and angry. The hopelessness of depression returned. Cole would go to work each day and I would sit on the bed and stare at the walls, ‘knowing’ there was nothing that I could do to change my life.
Cole kept on saying those words “So THIS is how it would be.” But now his tone had changed. There was apprehension in it. Fear. I sensed change and it made me act even worse.
I said cruel things.
I sabotaged everything because it seemed obvious that one day it would all disappear anyway.
Perhaps if we’d had good times for longer there might have been a bigger foundation for Cole to lean on when the times got rough. But we hadn’t. He had no idea if this bitch I had evolved into was the REAL Zoë, he had no comparison.
It must have been very confusing and disappointing for him.
I’m sure I hurt him.
I know I scared him away.
I was in LA for a month. Three weeks longer than planned. I finally flew back to Fiji amid a haze of tears and heartache. We both felt so much love and loss, but so much fear and ugliness.
I called and apologized as soon as I landed. The obstacles had been so big, so seemingly insurmountable, and had turned me into a creature even I didn’t recognize.
It was too late.
He pulled the plug.
He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t cope with that level of sad, mad and bad.
Who could blame him?
It was over.
And I never saw him again.
It’s been two years now and my desperate phone calls and emails to Cole petered out from daily to weekly, to monthly… the last time we spoke was a year ago.
He’s here, in LA, somewhere.
My visa was finally approved, after two years of waiting.
He might be living around the corner from me, for all I know.
That last time we spoke he’d just met someone and sounded happy. He wasn’t thrilled to hear from me. The letters and phone calls had scared him away even more.
I used to wonder if, had I just left him alone for a while, we might have been able to build a bridge between us, but I didn’t leave him alone, of course.
In the throws of a returned depression I had no focus, no calm.
I was a shrew, a beggar, a mess.
I had no dignity.
I always imagined that we’d run into each other some place, some time, but to this day it hasn’t happened. I figured that fate would play as much a hand in a reunion as it did in our first meeting. I always thought we might meet for a coffee and a chat, perhaps rekindle something. I’m here now, but I haven’t called. For two years I dreamed about him nightly, and cried often. I missed his friendship and the inspiration I drew from him. I wondered if seeing him would give me the closure I needed. I wondered if I was still in love him or just in love with the IDEA of him… for clearly he was not the man I needed or knew, just as I was not the woman he expected.
I decided to write this story, to share it, and as the words left my brain and fingers something miraculous happened.
I gave Cole away.
He’s yours now.
He was a beautiful moment and a wonderful dream.
He existed to show me that men were wonderful and pure, after a lifetime of lies and deception and abuse, he showed me there was love and magic. He just didn’t have the stamina to keep it going, and I can’t say I blame him one tiny iota.
The last time we spoke he told me that he thought our brief time together was just a fantasy, something that never could have sustained itself. Those words broke my heart more than losing him ever did, but I knew that I too was capable of convincing myself of certain things in order to be protected. To heal. In any case, we were clearly both now remembering different lives and speaking different languages.
I wrote him one last letter. I never expected a reply. He’d finally, after a year of being alone, met someone else and was smiling. It hadn’t been easy for him either.
I too had other lovers, I tried to love again. I felt some semblance of emotion for some of them, others were just physical interludes in a time of growth and mending.
I got better. I found my hope. I started writing and laughing and living.
I cannot find the last letter I wrote to Cole, in all its torn asunder splendor. I was going to post it here as one last gesture of open honesty and raw emotion. And clinging need. A farewell to a lost friend from a heart that has finally, through the power of writing, been able to move on. I must have discarded it in a fit of pique or mortification.
Still, there is goodness. I could not have been more honest in this telling, and I have been rewarded with a sense of peace and purity.
You have seen inside of me. I’ve turned myself inside out. For you. For me. It’s a beautiful, naked, tortured and complicated thing.
Sometimes we have to lose what is the most precious to us in order to evolve into the best that we can be. A sad fact, but ultimately a wonderful one- if the end result is peace and a better human being.
I had to lose something dear thing to me to become the best that I could be.
I’ve never been happier, yet I will never know what would have, could have, been.
This story ends here. There are no resolutions or reunions, no fated meetings or fairy tales. It just ends.
Life goes on.