full circle.

once upon a time, the phone rang. i picked it up and started talking to someone unexpected.

the phone call lasted for more than five hours.

it led to more phone calls, which led to hanging out, which led to the sweet stolen moments of life that make up the best stories later on.

that one phone call led to me being happier than i’d been in a long time. for as long as i could be…which wasn’t as long as i thought that it would be.

fast forward.

months and months later.

behind us, the two people on each end of that first phone call, are misunderstandings, my wounded pride and seriously bruised ego, his lies of omission and immature choices, the important life lessons we both had to learn, his new relationship, the saving grace of one of the most important relationships of my life, a series of “no, we can’t be friends” conversations fading into “maybe?” tries with varying degrees of success, and a lot of proverbial water under a bridge i kept trying to burn.

tonight, my phone rang again. i picked it up and, unexpectedly, started talking again.

it was stilted. awkward at first. the last time we spoke we basically hung up on one another using various electronic devices. we approached it carefully, deliberately. it felt a little like opening a dam. for him, he must have feared a burst of anger. for me, i feared something entirely different.

we joked around at first, falling into the easy kind of banter that one finds in a hallway full of people, the kind you engage in with the friends who are not really friends but acquaintances, whose presence you find agreeable but whom you would never call for help. i work those hallways very well. it felt familiar and easy and, best of all, safe.

safe was good. i was hoping for safe.

inevitably, though, we segued into trying to actually talk. he called, he said, wanting to catch up. i figured it must have been for some specific purpose, since he asked permission to call kind of out of the blue. he asked the questions one would ask someone they hadn’t seen in a few months, about school and the important people in my life. he asked them genuinely, i know. i answered them with the polite, concise answers we’ve all grown accustomed to giving, the one-word answers that seem to respond but really give no information at all.

that conversation didn’t last long.

he didn’t like it. he was frustrated, which i found surprising. he told me that if i didn’t want to talk, he’d understand, but that he didn’t want it to be difficult. i didn’t understand this. not difficult? he replied that there was an attitude that he didn’t like, a wall that he couldn’t get past to get to carrie.

he wanted to talk to the carrie he used to talk to, the “nice, caring, spiritual” carrie. this is the girl he remembered, of course, from when things were good. the one he would call every night, the one who didn’t mince words when he was being an idiot and buoyed him up when he was feeling unequal to any challenge. the one who listened as he told her the secrets of his life with a genuine understanding that sometimes life is just much harder and messier and more complicated than we think it will be. the one who gave and gave and gave willingly and joyfully because of how much she thought she got in return.

i asked him if he wanted me to be completely straight with him.

he said, with a voice almost desperate in its pleading, “YES.”

and i, unexpectedly, began to talk again.

the details, i suppose, are not important. we talked, for the first time without hurt and anger or the distance of IM clouding tone and reaction. we talked about that proverbial water.

i talked without fear, like the first time.

we talked for a while, like the first time.

but as the conversation ended and i hung up the phone, i realized that we really had nothing new to say to one another.

i realized that, once upon a time, a phone call opened up a door that needed opening.

and now, once upon a this time, a phone call closed the doors that needed closing.

when you realize that you have nothing left to give, nothing left to say, nothing left to do, and that you don’t regret any of it anymore?

that’s when you’re done.

door closed. chapter finished.

once upon a time, i loved a boy. once upon a time, he broke my heart. once upon a time, i learned a lesson.

once upon a time, i said goodbye.

and i never knew what a joyful word that could be.

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