I think that art brought us together.
Not the kind of art that would have you exist as a spectator. I went to school to become an art historian; my past is full of that. I spent five years in dimly-lit classrooms watching the dust floating in the yellow beam of the projector when I felt tired of looking at the images it placed on the screen. Until the early hours of the morning I marinated in books of theory, experiencing art as someone standing on the outside, looking into someone else’s experience and commenting on it while being far removed.
He wasn’t a spectator. He was a complete participant.
We met in a small Indie music club in North Philly. Our connection was instant and being together felt as easy as breathing. We would write songs together and he would encourage me to stop watching from the outside. “You’ve spent too much time standing on the shoreline, looking in but never stepping into the current,” he said to me early on. “It’s time for you to step into it and allow yourself to be taken by it.” It felt magical, yet there’s often been a part of me that’s prepared myself for the ending the better the present seemed. I’ve never viewed it as pessimistic because this has always ended up being the case. On a sunny Wednesday, his name showed up on the screen of my phone.
“I’m moving back to England,” he said. The words sounded like a weight crashing down in an empty room. The waves echoed and I was startled by the suddenness of it all. Perhaps he felt that it was better to just let me know that the magic was being put out yet again, just like all those other times.
I stayed up that night thinking about what to do and how to hold onto what I’d found. And then, I let myself fall.
I found myself dreaming of England. The countryside with its endless carpets of green grass and London with her moist cobblestone pavements and her various textures of steel and shades of urban grey.
I have never been to England, but I could see myself there in this faraway land I didn’t know outside of photographs and movies. The country became magical, wrapped and entwined around this human I knew I could love with a Great Love if I’d been given the proper amount of time. I could feel myself there with him, his flannel-covered arms surrounding me along with the scent of urban rain.
I knew it was crazy and that I’d only known him for two months, yet I wanted to go to England. I wanted to go because I wanted to be wherever he was — wherever we could write songs and take long walks and sleep with our limbs tangled together, never again being pulled apart.
I’ve often mulled over the experience of the Almost Love Story, the romance that even with all its passion never ends but fizzles out, the meeting of the right person with the wrong timing. Even though he and I will often still pour glasses of red wine, pick up our phones, and whisper back and forth over the Atlantic for hours, filling ourselves up with warmth, no amount of heat can stop fate from seeming cold and unfeeling.
When I look at the trail of these lovers I’ve left behind me, the universe seems cruel. I find myself searching for a purpose behind it all. I know that God works in ways that are mysterious before they make sense and I’m learning to trust in the unfolding of my love story. All of the stories in my past were meant to be previews and sacred preparations.
England told me what I now cherish as truth: I am made for the greatest of love stories, and I am being prepared and offered glimpses of it so that I will be ready.
Get ready, England whispers in my ear. You were meant for the greatest of love stories. It’s coming for you. I’m proof.