There was, of course, the kiss. What did it mean? Was it a good thing or a bad thing? A sign of moving on or weakness?
Then, there was the whole question of Eric. He’d asked if he could take me to my last dinner in Canada. It was clear that he wanted to be a friend, but what did that mean?
And finally, what did returning home mean? I’d had the trip of a lifetime and experimented with my very identity. This was a direction I intended to keep going in life. Despite the residual heartache of breaking up with Mark, I knew I was in a better place in life. As the trip came to an end, I knew I had to bring part of that satisfaction back to my everyday life in Utah.
It was a misty, gloomy day. A day that the morning fog rolled in and dropped anchor. I spent my time walking around the city alone. It provided me more time to explore while visiting the last museums on my itinerary. These were my last glimpses of history and culture before I made my way home. My mind weighed very little on the matters of my thesis and research, constantly jumping back to what life would be like in less than twenty-four hours. How could I take part of this life back with me? Being satisfied? Being open and happy?
I met up with Eric after the museums had closed and he’d finished his shift at work. We’d both had a good day, but a lot was on our minds. Making our way from the dorm towards the waterfront we stopped at the Economy Shoe Shop Restaurant.
“So what’s on your mind, GMB? What time are you leaving tomorrow?
“4 am,” I said in disgust.
“You’re probably better off staying up all night then. I wouldn’t be able to sleep if I knew I was going to see my family and friends so soon.”
“That’s my plan, but for other reasons. I’m paranoid of missing the flight and sleeping through my alarm.”
“If you don’t mind, I’ll keep you company. We can just chat all night.”
A few hours later, we were in my dorm room sitting on the floor next to each other. We pulled out my laptop and shared pictures of our exes. He opened up about his breakdown after Alan’s infidelity and I revealed that I was afraid I’d never feel the same again.
“You won’t,” Eric said. “Your first is always your first. You’ll meet somebody different, but feel just as good. Someday.”
It was one of those moments in which irony trailed behind the words as he spoke them and they reached our ears. It was time for both of us to move on.
We spent the next hours holding each other until the airport shuttle called. We ended the night with a single, tender kiss.
It was an answer I pondered on the taxi and on the plane back into Salt Lake:
This is who you are and you have nothing to be ashamed of.