I have a fascination with photos. I guess a lot of people do. For me, it usually carries an over the top emotional effect, depending on the photograph, of course. I took this picture three years ago, and I can remember that day perfectly. I was dating an amazing women. We were taking her young siblings out to Central Park and having one of those New York Central Park days that stays with you forever. The thing was, I knew in my heart that this relationship wasn’t going to last. It wasn’t that day that provoked these thoughts. I had known a few weeks prior.
I knew that I wanted to wait until a little bit after Christmas, as I didn’t want to break up right before Christmas. As someone who has been on the other side of being dumped on a birthday and the day before Valentine’s Day, there was no reason to put her though that. She was great, after all. On Christmas day, she gave me a photo album. It was filled with hundreds of photos from the day we met until that day in Central Park that she painstakingly went though, labeled, and made notes and comments on. Her roommate confided to me that she had worked on it for months. My heart sank.
A few weeks after Christmas, we had the talk. It was hard for both of us for different reasons, as breakups usually are. I did not use the “It’s not you, it’s me” bullshit that so many of us had used/heard over the years. I told her the truth. I said, “I love you, but I am not the guy who will make you happy in the long run. I know I cannot be that person you want me to be.” She was more into me than I was into her. (Note: It never works unless the guy is more smitten than the lady). I could have pulled a very stereotypical male move and kept sleeping with her through the winter, maintaining a false impression in her mind that this was a relationship that was going somewhere. We weren’t kids anymore; time was precious to both of us. I chose to be a man about it, give up the fruit of the tree if you will, and tell her what I felt. “When you love someone, sometimes you need to let them go. You need to be free to find a man who will complement you in ways that I cannot. Who will be the person you want me to be.” It was hard. I walked away. She decided that no contact was the only way she could get though this. I respectfully, but reluctantly, agreed. I did love her and would respect her wish. There was never any more conversation, no text messages looking for a booty call. Nothing. A year later, she emailed me. She was ready to be friends, if i were open to it. I was. I wanted to see her. I had no regrets about the breakup and was glad that she wanted to have dinner.
Dinner was great. We reminisced. She filled me in on what she had been up to. She told me about the new younger guy she was dating. I was happy for her, genuinely. We left that night, and I knew I would most likely never see her again. And I never did.
She is now married, and I am still single. And to this day, I have never been able to go through that whole photo album. Maybe one day.