burning bridges

I met her for the last time on the Aurora Bridge. I had everything I owned in the bag over my shoulder--just my laptop and my clothes and a few books I couldn't bear to leave behind. She was a summer fling. We'd stay up late sitting outside somewhere, watching the sun come up too early, smoking, talking, laughing. We'd talk about how one day we were just going to pack our bags and leave, burn all our ties to the city and just go. She wanted to go to California. I thought Toronto sounded nice this time of year. The point is we'd just go. And you know, I think she might have meant it, some part of her.

We both knew it was just a summer fling, but we pretended it was going to last. The summer ended and we broke up in the most genial way possible, by getting ridiculously drunk and celebrating what we'd had, like our own private going away party. Then came the morning and the hangover and I started feeling melancholy. And she was cooking eggs in the kitchen and I decided now was the time. "I'm leaving," I said.

"But I haven't made you breakfast yet!"

"No, I'm leaving." She gave me a look that said she understood. "We always talked about it, let's do it. You want to come?"

"I--I can't, I've--" school, work, friends, family, rent, obligations, she could have listed anything. It didn't matter. I understood, of course.

So we met one last time on the Aurora bridge, on my way to take a bus back home, then to pack up and leave. We were exes now. She'd said no to coming with me anyway. It was a reserved meeting, a far cry from that last celebration. "Won't you miss Seattle?" she said, handing me one last thing to take with me.

"A great deal," I said. "But I'm free now. It's a small price to pay."

She understood, of course. She had a bright future in a wonderful city, classes to take, good friends, a nice house, a steady job. She was trapped. Me? I had an open road ahead of me, no map, no destination, no idea what the weather was going to be like. Nobody knew or cared.

And freedom felt just like the first time I'd ever fallen in love.

1 comment:

Janie said...

Toronto sounds nice at the end of the summer, but not by the time the first winter is over.