I set the book down, even though this is the third time I read it, I’ve yet to grow tire of reading the same lines over and over again; they seem poetic to me, “The End of the Affair,” words I could relate to so well, reflective of  past love affairs that eventually met their doom. Even though years have passed since they’ve ended I am still able to feel the after effects of each one; each one played a significant role in molding me into the woman I am today. Every single one of them left a mark on me, leaving memories that to this day still affect my relationships. Some memories make me cringe but there are others whose scent I could easily recall, whose touch still linger on. There are men who are able to break you and then there are men who penetrate your life in such a manner that you could never release from their hold on you. Love can be unquestionably blind, ardent, and cruel; but it is so essential to our existence, they say, “He who has not loved has not lived”, and I have lived many lives.

“Ms. I’m sorry but we’re about to close.”

“Oh…wow I wasn’t realizing the time, he didn’t come today.”

“Excuse me?

“Never mind I was speaking to myself. Thank you.”

I checked my watch and confirmed how late it was. As I collected my things I perused the café and noticed that he did show up after all. I sat back down, placed a book in front of my face and watched him. He had chosen to sit in a quiet corner where he wouldn’t be interrupted by people entering the Café; there were more than a few tables between us. But there he sat, he hadn’t aged much, his hair was highlighted with a few gray hairs rendering  him even more appealing than without them.  His coffee sat on his left, his chocolate chip muffin half-way gone sat on his right, and his laptop right in between. He didn’t look up once, was too enthralled with the history book he was reading, probably to compliment his research. I took pleasure in watching him, wondering what had become of his life all these years. Wanting to ask him if he ever found his soul mate, if I was lingering in his memories as he was in mine, did he miss me?  What would he say if he saw me? Would he say hello or would he spill his anger onto me, still not forgiving me for walking out on him and our plans. Still not understanding it would never have worked.

This is the man who after 10 years was still capable of disrupting my nerves. For a few seconds I was transported to a Sunday afternoon, sitting in our University library working on a paper when he turned to me with a mischievous smile on his face and asked, “You want to go behind the bookcases?” I accepted his proposition and followed him to a hidden spot where no one would see us. I couldn’t help but smile to myself, that was the beginning of it all, it was so easy to go along with him, to allow myself to give in and follow him to ends of the earth, except in the end I chose not to and I’m sure he never understood my reasons why.

“Ms. we’re closing…

“Yes, yes I heard you.”

I rose from my seat and packed the last of my belongings, admired him one more time and quickly made my way out before he saw me. I stepped out into a white winter wonderland; a snowstorm had brushed by as I sat in the Café. I buttoned my wool coat and in spite of hating the snow, decided to walk home. On my way I observed the couples walking hand in hand, the couples who seem to have it all together  and those who were pretending they did, compromising themselves for the other, allowing offenses that would leave scars, forgetting but never forgiving. transgressions, adding them to a mounting list of resentments all the while bitterness ate them alive. There are couples who lose themselves in relationships that no longer make them happy, investing so much of themselves that the prospect of walking away terrifies them, it is easier to live an unfulfilled love life than to begin all over again. I was that person once, I too compromised myself and lived for my lovers, I too forgot and never forgave, I too had my own collection of resentments against the men who were never men enough to address our problems, who were too proud to accept their errors and move on past them, all until one day I realized that I am not a place for cowards.

Angela Abreu, is a 2nd generation Dominican writer, poet, and community activist. She is a recent author of a collection of poetry titled “No room for the Broken.” Angela lives in NYC with her son and shitzu Cookie.

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