Maybe this should not be written. On second thought, perhaps it is time to put thoughts down. Either way, my mind keeps coming back to it all and I find myself sitting here doing so any way. If I let my mind wander too far down this path, as it often does and more so as of late, I find myself berating myself for sentimentality, or for mourning over what once was and now is not. At other times, the thought of what other might think has held my mind firmly in check, cutting off those little trips down memory lane we, as humans, are so oft to take. In any case, here it is, for what it is worth.
When I close my eyes, I can still see the flickering flames of all the burning braziers, brightly illuminating the corridor along the water that cold fall evening. Throngs of people milled about entranced by the fire, the smoke and spectacle of it all. Haunting beautiful music filled the air and everywhere you looked you saw smiling faces, eyes brightly gleaming with life and dancing golden flames. The gondolas glided past in the dark waters, the figures in them shrouded and caped against the chill, pausing frequently to throw more wooden logs and fanciful mixtures onto the caged fires that then threw up plumes of sparks, colored embers and delicious spiced fragrance in the air.
We were dressed for the cold, or at least I was. You decided on a long sleeved t-shirt over your usual crisp polo and conceded to the cold by throwing on a soft light blue cashmere sweater topped by a simple gray hoodie. I remember how that sweater always matched your eyes so truly. Everywhere we wandered that night, it was mysterious, enchanting, magical and exciting, all over at once, at the same time. Fall was being ushered in and there seemed to be a breathless anticipation and expectation of wonders that awaited us around each turned corner, unexpected performance and step along our walk that night.
I never will forget your smaller special hand that tightly clasped mine as the crowds became thicker. It was warm and strong, like it always had been, since the very first night we met. After a while, as we walked along the water, taking in all the sight and spectacle, I felt you let go of my hand and firmly clasp the crook of my arm, stepping more closely and in sync with my longer legs, and I helpyour hand there tight against my leather jacket with my other hand.
Others saw us walking so and watched. The mixture of their reactions; interest, affirmation, smiles and curiosity made my heart swell with love, pride and contentment. You were mine and I was yours and as a man, I wanted the whole world to know. This is who I love! This is who chose me! This is who I gave my heart to! All was right with my world.
I think of all those times I held your hand. Times that when love, happiness or even fear made you reach out to clasp mine. Someone may have made you felt scared and you needed my protection and reassurance. Words may have been yelled from a passing car or from a stranger that did not understand. All of those times, a simple hand in mine, holding my arm or simply resting on my leg told me all the things I already understood. You needed me. You wanted me. You loved me. You were there for me.
Looking back a year, you know I was there for you. I saved your life.
I believe that in many ways, you also saved mine.
The import and emotional literal load to those words boggles my mind. I think I am finally letting go of your hand. I love you and a part of me always will. The days that go by where I do not think of you are becoming more frequent and I know in my heart that I am healing. You are alive, happy, safe and well and for that I am ever thankful.
Our paths crossed for a while and then diverged...and that has made all the difference.
Thank you, Michael.