Sometimes ‘goodbye’ is all you need

“But the wild things cried, “Oh please don’t go – we’ll eat you up – we love you so!”
And Max said, “No!”
The wild things roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws but Max stepped into his private boat and waved goodbye.”

— Maurice Sendak, “Where the Wild Things Are”

* * * * *

BoatI said “goodbye” to someone today, and in a way I felt a lot like Max getting on that boat.

My “someone” wasn’t and isn’t a monster, but like Max and his Wild Things, he is someone I’d had great adventures with, laughs, funny moments, thoughtful moments. We shared our lives and our families for almost three years, and when it ended a few months ago, we talked about being friends. That’s really what we had been for most of the time we were together, we reasoned, so how hard could it be?

We never really got the chance to find out. Shortly after we broke up, my “someone” met a new someone. “It was a surprise, totally unexpected,” he told me.

I was – and am – happy for him. The more time that passes since we ended it, the more I’ve come to realize we were a good fit as friends, but not as romantic partners. As much as we were alike, we were also different, and in ways that would eventually have mattered.

We still talked about being friends, but I knew even as we talked it wouldn’t happen. He would mention getting together for dinner – and I reminded him that his new someone might not appreciate it. The fact that we’d been romantic partners, no matter how much we know now that it was more like a friendship, will always get in the way when either of us has a new “someone.” It would for me – if I had a new someone in my life, I doubt that he would understand my wanting to go to dinner with a recent ex-boyfriend, and I know I would not be at all understanding if he wanted to go to dinner with a recent ex-girlfriend.

And I began to see the signs, and the signs began to bother me. Where once, even after breaking up, we’d instant message or text each other occasionally, they just stopped. He stopped “liking” my posts and pictures on Facebook. Pictures of the two of us together started disappearing from online photo albums. There was just … nothing.

I began to feel bitter and resentful, and then reminded myself there was really no reason to feel that way. I, too, have moved on, in different ways. I, too, know that the end was a good thing.

Can we be friends? I don’t know. Maybe. He’ll always be important to me, and his family will always be in my heart. I’m sure if I were to run into him we would be civil – friendly, even. But for now, anyway, that’s all there is.

So today I said “goodbye” and wished him well.

And got into my private boat and sailed away, ready to face the next adventure.

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