We reconnected soon after that and though we both know it's never going to be beyond the boundaries of friendship, I found myself holding on to that last chain, refusing to throw out the last anchor of my shore-bound ship. I was still holding on. I know it. And he still thinks of me as that same "best woman" he left behind 4 years ago. We talked like the time gap did not happen and I was still 21, him, a 23-year-old idealistic weirdo. God knows I've loved him and up until a certain moment a few hours ago, God know I still love him.
But sure as love finds you in the midst of nowhere, in whatever situation you are on, realization also hits you like bird poop falling from somewhere. It hits you on the head and makes you realize that "hey, what am I doing under this tree anyway?"
We were talking about normal things a few hours ago and he was asking me about the people I've met, the places I've been to and the things I've accomplished. In all eagerness and innocence, I've told him the beaches I've been in and the awesome people I met there, the mountains I've climbed and the friends I've met, the challenging work I'm doing, my everyday stresses, my little successes and failures and all things a normal woman would talk about with a normal man. He commented about how the me he knows from way back "will never climb hill, much more a mountain" and I showed him pictures of me in all those places he never thought I'd visit. He asked me about not travelling with a man in all the places I've been to and I told him I'm fine with friends. He laughed and I said that the old me he knew has not evolved into an adventurous woman. He told me he envied me and he wanted more adventure too because he's still chasing after a dream while stuck inside the university and his work place. I told him he should take a leave from work and take his wife and family to a vacation. It was an innocent comment but I was proud to tell him that a part of me has changed... And then somehow, in the middle of the conversation, I stopped and realized that the "part" that has changed also involved the part that fell in love with him.
While talking about everything that went on in my life so far, I wondered what would have happened if I hadn't lost him. What would have happened if we ended up together and I ceased being a single woman right before turning 25. Would I have taken a different path and would I like it as much as the path I have taken now? And in the middle of all those wondering, I had an epiphany of some sort - that I am more in love with the discoveries I had made about myself. If I hadn't lost him, I wouldn't have tried to discover new things about myself. If I hadn't lost him, I probably would be stuck in the world filled with only him - because that's how much I loved him. I wouldn't be climbing mountains, randomly backpacking with friends, spending more time and resources with family, fantasizing about Japanese idols and saving up for Japan to meet them, occasionally and harmlessly flirting with funny men or even meeting possible partner for a lifetime
It was at that moment that I knew... I knew... it was a good thing that we didn't end up together. I was thankful that I was not with him and he remained to be simply as a friend. I was satisfied that I was his past "best woman" and he was my bittersweet first love. I was comfortable with what we are now... and... and...
I have finally arrived on the shore, with all my ship's anchors thrown out.
I was happy to finally give him up.
I'm finally truly ready to move on.