“You don’t stay in love, Kitten. You give up too soon,” Jen said to me. We were on a hike, and even though the leaves were just beginning to change color, a gentle breeze rustled the trees and sent leaves raining upon us. The temperature was in the 80's and I sat on a bench to watch nature play. I did not answer Jen right away for I was spell-bound. Despite the warmth, there was no doubt that Fall had come. The transition seemed effortless like a perfectly synchronized dance.
Jen was laying on the bench with her eyes closed complaining that she was getting bit by bugs and that we should head back. I had no intention of heading back just yet. "You're missing it," I said.
"Fall making an entrance and putting on a show," I said.
“Did you hear what I said," she asked.
"Yes. But this," I waved my hand, as another whiff of breeze came through, this time apples hit the ground thud, thud, thud, and an abundance of leaves danced mid-air before falling to the ground. "Is way more interesting," I finished.
"I think you stay too long,” I said after the wind fell silent which must have been longer than I thought because Jen had dosed off.
"You said that I don't stay long enough in relationships. I think you stay too long in ones that are not good for you,"
She sat up and stared at me.
It’s been a long time since I’ve said anything to Jen about her married lover. I don’t tell her to leave him anymore. I figured that she will leave when she is ready – when she finally realizes that he is a lie. He told her that he was in the process of getting divorced when they met, she has been with him over five years and he still has not filed for divorce. He keeps telling her that she will never find another man who loves and treats her the way he does? Isn't that a good thing?
“So we’re talking about me now, are we?” she asked.
“Are we?” I asked. “Aren’t you basing your feelings on me leaving too soon on the fact that you’re still holding on?”
She was silent for a moment. “Maybe,” she finally said. “I don't mean to suggest that you can't be in a long term relationship or that you don't love deeply. I know that’s not true. There was Kenny and Rey and I remember how hard you tried with Nick, but Kit, is there anyone you feel that you’ve given up on too soon? Any regrets?”
“None,” I said. “There is not a single man alive whom I left or who left me that I want to go back to,”
Philip Martin said, “Our suffering comes from our attachment to people and things, our repeated attempts to find something lasting where there is nothing lasting to be found,”
I have come to value things for what they are meant to be - to flow with nature the way summer fell silent and fall stepped in to do its part. The way winter will cover fall beneath a blanket of snow like a child tucked into bed, and spring will relieve winter of its duties and bring everything back to life. I have yet to make a relationship work that I have held against its will – convinced a man to stay, despite him telling me, the best way he knows how - in tears and heartbreak and hurt that it was time to go. In holding on beyond its time, I have succeeded only in being graced now and again with a taste of bliss that the heart called hope, but which did not last long. When a relationship is over, the need to move on does not go away -it is driven by a force greater than we may understand.
I live by the dictum now that if a man makes me miserable more than he makes me happy, it matters not how much I may love him, it is time to let go. And so, I do not linger in a relationship for which the wind beckons. I find that in letting go, I also open the door to write my next chapter that is waiting to be told. I have learned to simply say thank you for the time that I am given.
Jen threw her arms around me and kissed me on the cheek, "Do you think that I should say thank you, and give John back?" she asked.
"He is not yours to give back. He never left. But if I were you, I would let go,"
"And do what, Kit, date until I find someone?"
"Or until someone finds you. Yes, that would be my suggestion," I said.
"I don't want to have short meaningless relationships,"
"How meaningful is the one you're in?" I asked.
"Ouch! That stings," she said.
It was never my intention to suggest that life is a series of short meaningless flings. I am an optimist. I don’t believe that any love affair, no matter how short is meaningless. Sometimes the shortest ones take more of you than ones that lasted a long time. I remembered being deeply wounded by a love affair that lasted months than one that lasted years. How? Why? I don’t know.
"Let's walk some more," I said.
There’s a saying in sales that success is a numbers game. The more no’s you hear, takes you closer to a yes. I believe this in love as well. My ultimate goal is to discover the kind of love that accompanies me into old age with beauty and grace, so that even in the worst of times - and there will be the worst of times, there will still be no other place I would want to be.
“When you love you should not think you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.”
― Kahlil Gibran