Many moons ago, J and I broke up (for the first time). It was Spring, and he’d purchased us each unrestricted season passes to a ski mountain up in Tahoe. These are pricey commodities bought because of his love of skiing each Winter and the anticipated notion that the following Winter, we’d both ski the mountain together.
And then, we broke up.
So, what does a person do, I later asked a girlfriend, with the promises you made while you were together?
What do you do with the ski passes, the travel plans, the house you envisioned,… and the children you named?
This question has been resurrected this last week since J and I decided to break up again—though I am more the firm one on it, and our living together rubs daily salt in the wounds.
What do you do with the promises you made when you were together?
I ask this aloud as J and I sit opposite one another over the breakfast table last weekend, both a little soggy in our tears, warm mugs and handkerchiefs in hand.
I answer that maybe I consider each of the plans like small, child travelers — now, I wrap them back up in warm clothing, zip their puffy coats, straighten their mittens, and send them back out into the world. Your place is not here, I’m afraid. And walk them to the door, and watch each promise waddle back out into the snowy village to look for someone else to take them in.
Or, I suggest, perhaps each promise is simply like a thought gift I get to hug close and thank for visiting me—for offering me its joy or serenity or delight or warmth—and then I get to release it, like a caged bird into the sun. Thank you for visiting me, for showing me more of the world.
J replies dryly, “That does not help.”
And that’s okay, I suppose. It doesn’t have to help him, but it may help me. It may help me to treat all of the plans and promises we made with love and gratitude, rather than with mourning and bereftness.
None of us know which bundled traveler will stay—and none of us know which traveler is cresting the ridge of our yard, just now waiting for us to open the door.