“Are you breaking up with me?” she asked.
“Yes, I guess I am,” he responded. “I don’t know what I want to do. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. I just don’t think we have much in common. I’m a Rooster and you’re a puppy Dog.”
She felt miffed. “I never could relate to Chinese astrology. It never made sense to me so I’m not sure I buy that explanation… besides, we have a lot in common! People see what they want to see. If you read something you just automatically agree with it? What about our compatibility report that shows we are a near-perfect match based on our western astrological signs?” She picked off a dried leaf from the bottom section of a nearby palm tree and started picking at it.
“I don’t know. I just don’t think we should get married. I also don’t want you to miss out on opportunities with your job working with Jim and all the plans you guys have.” He looked down over the boardwalk safety railing into the water flowing underneath, staring blankly.
“Again,” she insisted, “I think you are putting too much importance on what other people say, or what you read or are told. Can’t you make up your own mind?”
“I’m just a pea-brained male,” he responded with a smirk, realizing their old private joke was probably not quite appropriate this particular time.
She sighed, but not because of what decision he was having trouble with, but because he was actually breaking up with her when he was still unsure what was best to do. She could barely believe her ears. It was a shock, yet she had feared this might happen since she felt him pull away months prior to this moment. “Are you writing me off for good?”
He glanced up at her. “I definitely want to stay friends…” He noticed two palm trees nearby swaying in the warm Florida breeze.
She choked on her words, “I would like that. I don’t know what to say. I still love you. It’s not my style to scream or cry and beg and ask you to stay if you don’t want to stay. It is what it is. If you don’t want to be with me, then I’m not going to ask you to stay. I don’t want to be with someone who is not interested in being with me. But I do still love you, even right now, through this.”
His ears hurt hearing this, because he fully expected her to fight with him, and for it to be easy to break it off. This was not easy. “I’m not sure I’m made the best decision here…” His voice trailed off as he, too, picked dried leaves from nearby plants and worked them between his fingers.
The two stood silently, leaning on the boardwalk railing, picking at dried palm leaves. Neither of them looked at each other, they just stood there tearing dead foliage apart simultaneously, as if some kinesthetic energy were working through them to break down their lives, which had grown together and intertwined in love and friendship, only to now be dying and shredded before their eyes.
She broke the silence with a cracked voice that matched look of the dried leaves. “My dedication to you, and my love for you have not changed. Nor will it. I am letting you go because you want it, not because I want it. I will continue to love you, even if you don’t love me.”
His eyes welled up with tears. She always knew how to make him cry with her words. “I love you too. I just don’t see us together long term, so I figured we should just break up now and get it over with.”
She came forward and faced him, asking, “If that’s what you want. Thank you for being honest with me. Can I hug you goodbye?”
“Yes,” he said, opening his arms to her.
The two embraced one last time, and she began to weep in his arms. “I feel like I’ve done something wrong, but I don’t know what it is. I’m sorry… I’m just so sorry.”
He cried with her, holding her tight. “You haven’t done anything wrong at all. It’s not you.”
She sobbed and told him she missed him already, and said her goodbyes, even though she knew they would stay friends. How could they not? They got along so well. “I’m just so sorry…” she just couldn’t muster any more words, for the tears were overwhelming, and the emotions overpowering. She held onto him tightly. She tried to look up at him but he just pulled her back close to his bosom, keeping her tears landing on his shoulder.
He couldn’t bear to see her cry. “I am not sure I made the best decision here. I’m really thinking that this was too drastic and not necessary.”
She did not try to change his mind. She also did not respond in any way that would support or deny his words. She just felt that this was the most positive way any two people could break up… in each other’s arms, crying in mutual feelings of loss and love, with friendship as the foundation between them. She had been through wonderful relationships that ended badly, and horrible relationships that ended okay, but this was the most horrible and simultaneously beautiful thing she had ever experienced in a relationship break-up. The connection she felt with him at that very moment was utterly intense, and strangely, it was also immensely peaceful.
He was a mess, emotionally.
The two finally let go of their embrace and collected themselves. Slowly their tears dried, and they decided to walk off the boardwalk and back into civilization. People walked along the beach, and the sun was setting.
She thought it felt weird to be among people again. She turned and looked at him, “You know, it’s strange… I walked onto the boardwalk back there and was in a relationship, and I walked off the boardwalk as a single person.”
He did not know what to say. He was fully realizing what he had done. He reiterated, “I’m just not sure I made the right decision at all here…” He didn’t know how else to say he wanted to change his mind.
She had a flash of insight so spoke it aloud to him. “I think you needed to do this, for your own peace of mind. I think it’s important that you stick with your decision for a while and make sure whether or not you made the right decision. If you change your mind, I am here. But I want you to be sure. This is not fair to me otherwise.”
He cringed. He already knew he had made a mistake. He kept his mouth shut, but he knew had let go of something precious. Their relationship meant more to him than he had realized... he had thrown it away like a piece of trash when he should have saved it out, and held it, and caressed it, and taken care of it, and called it his own. His wishy-washiness suddenly seemed frivolous, his indecision a mistake.
They walked back to his house and sat together the rest of the evening, as friends instead of lovers… as two people who cared for one another but were no longer intimate.
Later on they sat on the couch and watched a movie. He put his arm around her shoulders, and she let him.
It was then that she noticed tears coming from his swollen eyes again. She didn’t quite understand it, but she knew everything was going to be okay. “I feel strangely at peace.”
“I don’t,” he answered whether she wanted to know or not. “I’m a train wreck.” He wanted her to know.
A while later he rested his head on her lap. She allowed it.
Her time to go back to her own home was not due for a while, so she lied down to take a nap. He followed her and snuggled up behind her. She sighed deeply with content. She loved his touch… it was one of his best qualities.
They fell asleep, and as they slept they embraced.
When they awoke, he kissed her gently, and began making love to her.
She asked, “Are we still broken up?”
He held her gently, and reassured her. “No. Let’s be together. I made a mistake. You are very special to me and I love you too much to let you go.”
“I will allow it.” She said with a huge smile. “How do you feel about us now?”
“I feel good,” he said, “I feel really good.”