He texted me from airport gates and streets named “Taylor” in faraway cities. “Taylor Street” in San Francisco lingers in my mind, as if I’ve been there before, as if I existed then, there, with him. The “Wish You Were Here” postcards never came.
Innocent objects in my apartment bear unwarranted significance. The plant I bought one Saturday night when he was in Asia. The photo of snow swirling from my apartment window on a December day when he was in California. The stacks of books that disappeared and the new ones that replaced them, each one a mark of time passing, events missed, two lives mismatched like my middle school outfits. My life passed in the photos I texted him, exhibits of the ordinary.
The “Wish You Were Here” postcards never came.
He told me stories, showed me entire photo albums. I existed only when it was convenient, close; I wished I were there. I wanted to exist when it was tough, when we were far apart.
He was transient, and I was, too, I suppose, trapped in a cycle of doctor’s appointments and blood tests and what ifs. “Meaningful” and “forever” are too often synonymous, as if the relationships that last are more important, more pivotal than the ultimately noncommittal.
For a long time I rejected the notion that it had been worthwhile, focusing instead on the texts that grew farther apart, the goodbyes we simply forgot to exchange at that last happy hour. Yet he was exactly what I needed when I needed it. I needed to be committed to my health, to the half-marathon I was training for, to the LSAT.
Our would-be relationship taught me that noncommittal and meaningful can be synonymous, that the slow fade of us couldn’t blur the cute texts he sent me, the time he messaged me from Reykjavik to tell me it was already my birthday in Iceland and yes, those hours totally counted.
I never made it to Taylor Street in San Francisco with him. Maybe someday, I’ll go by myself. I don’t need a “Wish You Were Here” postcard anymore; I’ll write my own.