Missing Pieces

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Why do you want to run on your own? Let’s run together.

We first meet in early fall, hands in baggy hoodie pockets, sun glinting off free sunglasses advertising some real estate company. I like your laugh, your kindness humming in the background, your battery bunny energy. Your honesty as we sit at the top of a half-hill, half-mountain. My day has taken a turn, and the sunshine warms my bones.

Why do you want to see them so badly? I’m happy just being here with you.

In spring you thread a necklace around my neck, adorned with a single dewdrop of a pearl. I begin to feel at home with you in my life. You are there between classes, at lunch, wrapped in blankets at the beach. I bend for you: I’ve never advertised my private life, but it matters to you that we are a package deal. I show some goodwill. I can try. I let your social media flood mine, I will hold your hand among friends, I won’t cringe at the public affection. I remember your smile that first day at the top of that hill, hold onto that with both hands.

You don’t need me.

Fall circles back around, after a turbulent summer. You bristle when I say I need my own time, alone. You show up anyway, bringing lunch and stuffing in time un-alone. You begin to pick at the seams of my days: you don’t like the friendships that have lasted longer than you; you question why I have friends who are male, as if their gender is somehow a new development. My solo runs are now a rejection of you; my antics with friends embarrassing. This is tasting like hard work.

I want you, you say, but you don’t, not really. You want — but not me, not as I am. I won’t bend further.

Why am I not enough?

The thing is, you can’t ask someone to need you. You don’t get to pull chunks from them so that they need to fill in the fresh gaps with you. That has nothing to do with love. So we go in circles. I keep thinking of that erroneous pizza pie theory of economics; there are things that aren’t finite. Isn’t it better if you’re in my life because I want you in it, not because I need you? Wouldn’t you rather be chosen, again and again?

And when winter inevitably comes, and you go, life is still enough. I still run alone. Those friends you disapproved of are still there. I still play my music loud; I still find my quiet spaces. And when a new person sneaks into my life, life grows easily, happily, to make space for them. The other things still stay.

It’s been a while, but I hope you’ve found your own enough — wherever it may lay.

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