It was 3 a.m. in the spring of 2006. We were sitting on the hood of my car in his apartment’s parking lot in the middle of the city – really, lying there – and not saying a word. It was a very warm August night and crystal clear. The city was too bright to really see the stars, but I could vaguely make out the big dipper. My flight to San Bernardino was at 6 a.m. and I needed to head back to my parent’s to meet my Dad to head to the airport.
I needed to leave.
We had spent the last 5 hours talking yet saying nothing at all. We had been dating for over two years as I finished college, and had grown in our own ways. He was off to teach high school choir full-time in the fall; I was headed to law school. These were both very deliberate decisions, knowing that we’d be very far apart and very separate. We talked about how we’d see each other as often as possible, and I had crunched the numbers several times to figure how much of my loan I could put toward airfare back to Seattle every 4-6 weeks.
We never talked about saying goodbye.
But this moment was it. The radio in my car was playing, and as I started to mumble something about needing to go, Chasing Cars started to play. For us, this song hit hard and deep from the moment it first premiered; as it had just recently started to top the charts, it somehow symbolized the impending doom of our relationship. So of course, it was fitting that at that very moment that I so desperately needed to say goodbye, a soundtrack so fitting would play as I turned and said that I really had to go, yet so desperately wanted to stay and pretend we could, as the lyrics go, “just forget the world.”
The next 3 minutes played out like a movie. He didn’t really say anything. Tears flowed without sound. To this day, I’m not even sure we kissed goodbye. I finally got in my car and said goodbye barely looking at him, driving away without looking back…and then bawling hysterically like a baby all the way home.
It was like a classic scene out of any rom-com….without the com. It was a movie script ending, to quote Death Cab for Cutie.
Of course, that wasn’t really the final scene. I ended up dropping out of law school a month later and our “relationship” walked a fine line between “complicated” and “fucked up” for the next few months. The rest of the year was more fitting for a book than the silver screen — but as heartbreaking as that moment I said goodbye was, it was one of the most perfect moments of my life. Even though it was the beginning of a very ugly end to our relationship, it truly couldn’t have been any better.
Funny how life works like that, isn’t it?