There comes a time in life where you have to do some things that not everyone will support.
These things challenge the assumptions others hold about you. They challenge your idea of yourself.
And yet, you know you must do it. Even as everything and everyone begs you not to. That’s what I’m feeling right now. I’ve just gotten off a call with yet another concerned family member, friend, or some other person. Truthfully, I’ve lost count. I’ve talked to so many. Heard so many opinions. Heard the concerns and the questions. I’ve heard them but they haven’t heard me.
They say they don’t understand. They question whether I’ve thought it through. If I know what I’m doing. Does anyone?
With tears running down her face, my girlfriend pleaded with me. “Just think about your future.”
Truth is, I couldn’t stop thinking about my future. I was packing my things up, leaving this city. This place is bringing me down. It’s draining me.
“I’m not happy here.” I started. “My future here is day after day of living in misery.”
“John,” she responded, “you don’t mean that.”
“Caroline, I love you and this has nothing to do with you.”
“Nothing to do with me?” she snapped.
“I’m sorry but this has everything to do with me.”
I pondered. I loved her. Her smile, her dark brown eyes, her long black hair. I loved her laugh. I loved the way he skin glowed in the morning when the sun hit it just right. I loved all of her. And yet, it wasn’t enough to make me want to stay here.
“Caroline, babe. This isn’t fair. Should I stay here and be miserable? Is that what you want?”
“You don’t care what I want. You never did.”
“You don’t mean that.”
She thought for a minute. Maybe considering if she’d meant it. Maybe realizing how much her words stung.
“You can come with me.” I offered.
“I… don’t want to move to Indiana.”
“Why not?” I asked.
“I would hate it there. There’s nothing for me there.”
“What about me?”
She paused. “John, I couldn’t.”
“That’s how I feel about being here.”
“So.. what happens to us?” she asked.
“We can try to make it work?”
“We could, but to what end?” She responded, clearly already knowing the answer.
“John, I love it here.”
“Well then. What else is there for me to say?”
Her face changed. From anger and despair to what seemed to be genuine confusion.
“You don’t get it, John. You just don’t.”
“That we can agree on.”
She waited for a moment. “When you were considering moving, did you ever wonder how I felt? How I would feel? If I would want to go.”
“I knew you wouldn’t.”
“No, you assumed I wouldn’t.”
“You don’t. So where is this going?”
“I was an afterthought, John. You didn’t care enough to include me in your decision making process that so clearly affects us both”
“I knew you’d just try to stop me.”
“No, you assumed I would.”
“Well, isn’t that what you’re doing now?” I countered.
“You’re not asking me. You’re telling. Your decision is made. What I say doesn’t matter. You’re just checking a box.”
“I’m checking a box? That’s what you really think?”
A single tear dropped from her eye. Then two more. Then a fourth.
“I’ve thought about you every step of this way. I’ve stayed this long because of you. But I just can’t. Caroline, I… can’t”
My words trailed to a whisper.
“Caroline, I love you.” I said barely audible. And I grabbed and pulled her close to me. We were both crying, as we held each other. It was an impossible situation.