“Fact is,” he said, casually taking a sip of his soda. “We’re not compatible. We could never be married. We’d argue too much.”
What was he saying to me? We would never be married? We’d invested five years in this relationship and now he tells me we’re not compatible? I wanted to argue, but that would only prove him right.
“Everyone argues,” I reasoned. “That’s normal.”
“See,” he continues, “you’re still young. You’re very optimistic. You believe in fairytales and romance novels. Me? I’ve been married before and I know the signs. I’ll never marry again.”
It was like a punch in my gut by a middle-weight champion. Geez! My brain didn’t know what to tackle first: his condescension about the fact that I was thirty years old and he was eight years my senior? Or should I remind him about the lesson he’d taught me about no man being an island? We were meant to be with someone. Should I remind him that he approached me all those years ago, not the other way around, and if he didn’t really want me then why waste my time all these years?
But I said little else. Tears fell on my pizza which now resembled a dry piece of bread covered in processed goo. I was embarrassed by my sensitivity, embarrassed by misunderstanding the strength of our relationship, embarrassed because the woman who sat across from him wasn’t enough. I was grateful, however, that my back was to the few others who lingered in the dining area as it dawned on me that he’d brought me on the cruise knowing that he was going to break my heart. And there I was thinking he was going to put a ring on it.
I am not good at letting go. I don’t like to move on.
And then the jokes began. My beloved curl became a punch line for a movie. I hadn’t seen it coming. I didn’t know this thing in my life that I’d credited with making me feel okay about myself was only a fad. It was temporary. Something else would come along. I ignored my mother’s urging that I update my look. Who cared that I had the curl for five years? I wanted to wear it for the rest of my life. And look at the length of my hair! The downside: wet everything was a sacrifice I was willing to make. But my mother held the funds and she said no more. That look is just tired, Rhonda. Let’s move on, Rhonda. It’s for your own good, Rhonda.
Change, I suppose, is always for our own good. Even when it hurts. And man, does it hurt.
I moved on. I let him let me go. I was young enough to know about all the other fishes swimming out there in the ocean. His ship sailed on without me. I didn’t know then that I’d be better off. For if his ship hadn’t left the harbor, there wouldn’t have been a chance for a better one to dock.
I don’t like moving on. But I accept whatever the tide brings my way, knowing that in the end, I’ll be better, stronger, than I ever was before.