It’s been a long time.

by Kyle Fournier 

     It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you. I hate to admit it, but I’ve missed you. Even after everything that happened - and didn’t happen - I still miss you.

     I know it’s you. Nobody will believe me, but it must be you. You’re just like I remember. Young in spirit, beautiful, smart in some ways and stupid in others, with a will that can’t be bent or broken by any man. You look different now, but not so different. You’re a bit taller and a bit thinner, but your eyes shine the same as they did years ago.

     Do you remember me? I guess not. When we die and come back, I guess we have to lose our memories. If we didn’t, the world would be a much different place. But still, I think some part of you knows me. We only met in person a few days ago, but I’ve known you much longer.

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     I met her at coffee shops both times. The first time was in Texas and the second time was in Bali. She was radiant both times, but I think her soul must have been older the second time. She was roughly the same age, but she had shed some of the insecurity and pretense that often made her difficult to deal with back in Texas.

     In Texas, her name was Anna. Anna turned 21 the week I met her and acted her age. Despite her prolific immaturity, however, she showed a precocious wisdom about people and the way the world worked. Unlike most girls her age, she didn't hate reality for failing to match expectations developed from fairy tales, movies, and outright lies told by society; she saw it for what it was and continuously adapted - when she felt like it, anyway.

     In Bali, her name was Shinta. Shinta was a year older, but even more playful and spontaneous than Anna. We liked each other right away and weren’t shy about it. Why hide it? Older souls don’t hide it. Shinta might have been 22, but her soul was old - too old for me to comprehend. Younger souls can’t laugh the way Shinta did. They’re too worried about being loud and about what others think. Shinta wasn’t.

     Both times, coffee became something else without any friction. Dating involves friction so often, but does it have to? No. Anna, Shinta - whatever your name is - thank you for proving that. With you, things progressed naturally. The way they were meant to. 

     No, that doesn’t mean we fucked right away. Don’t be so presumptuous. Men and women who are attracted to each other tend to have sex given enough time and privacy, but it’s not meant to happen right away. It’s best when attraction and comfort build through shared experiences - to an extent. After a certain point, though, why are you holding back? Who are you trying to impress?

     You made everything fun, even things I hated. Especially things I hated. Running on a hot Texas afternoon, buying supplies at a run-down gas station, standing in huge crowds of people - it was all fun with you. God, I wish I knew how you did it. Or how to recreate it with others. Why can’t I feel that way without you?

     Part of living through enough lives is that you begin to understand impermanence and the futility of grasping and clinging. Souls of a certain age know on some level that putting all their eggs in one person’s basket is foolish. So yes, we loved each other. Both times. But we couldn’t say it outloud and we refused to sacrifice freedoms. Maybe that means we weren’t old souls, after all, but young ones. Childish and afraid of attachment. I don’t know. It’s all relative, I guess. 

     I knew not to grasp in Texas. I wanted to and would have, but knew I shouldn’t. It was too clear that Anna didn’t want it. She said as much. “When I see you too often, I like you less.” Got it.

     The day Anna tried to tell me she loved me is forever carved into the pattern of my life. Her words didn’t come out right and she ran away, embarrassed. Later, I tried to talk about it. She acted like she had forgotten. She wasn’t ready. It was OK. It hurt, but it was OK.

     After that, the youth of our souls revealed itself and painted the rest of our story. The lightness Anna and I shared faded and we hadn’t built enough to survive the darkness. Was it her fault? Yes. Was it my fault? Absolutely. The truth of what happened can never be expressed accurately. I have my story and she has hers and both stories have been corrupted by time. Regardless, it wasn’t what I wanted and it can’t have been what Anna wanted, either.

     Unfollowed. A word that held no significance fifty years ago causes searing pain today. That’s what it did to me three years ago. Now? You could say I’ve moved on, but who ever really moves on? I don’t think of her every hour anymore, or even every day. But she’s still there. 

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     Shinta, will the same thing happen this time? It probably has to, right? The universe reveals itself through cycles. They change and mutate, but the end is always the same. You’ve matured, but probably not enough yet. And me? I’m exactly the same. I’m not ready yet, either. I’m sorry for last time. And I’m sorry for this time. It hasn’t even happened yet, but I’m sorry. I love you and always will.