I met my soul mate at eighteen - a beautiful boy with his head full of ideas of love and music rippling from his fingers. I left him at twenty-five - still beautiful, I suppose, but I'm not sure that his head was full of much of anything, any more. I left him playing his guitar in the echoing emptiness of a subway station, his case tilted open for change, hair longer than ever, unwashed, unbrushed. I guess, in the end, I wasn't ready. I guess, now, that I never will know.
They say that true love waits, that love will win out in the end, that love will maintain you in the absence of all other things. When I was eighteen, and he was a beautiful boy, he told me the same thing. It was in his songs - our songs - the songs he sang for me and wrrote for me and recorded for me. It was in the music that skyrocketed one particular song to the top of the charts. And I believed it, I believed him. How could I not? He was my soulmate - my one true love. The man for whom I lived - for whom I almost died.
Looking back, I am not so sure I did not die.
We were young, reckless, rich, in love. We were idols to ourselves, and we prayed at our temple daily, offered sacrifices that we could never reclaim. I lost my virginity to him, to the music from his fingertips, gave him myself in the back of a beat-up old Chevy van. I do not regret it. I do not regret giving up my college scholarship to ride in the passenger's seat of that same Chevy van, nor do I regret the bitter and unforgivable things I said when I left my home. I have done many things in these past seven years that they say I must regret, and I do not look back on a single one of them with sorrow.
But O, if there is a God and it hears the pleas of mortals, I would beg for only one sin to be forgiven, one terrible thing that I regret. I wish that I had not walked away.
When I was twenty-five, I was young and old and so very very tired by my struggles. That is the only justification I can give for my sins. I walked away from him in that abandoned subway station, believing that he would not even know I was gone. He had not spoken to me in three days, after all. He had not spoken to anyone; he had only sat on the cold concrete ground and played his guitar for the coins people threw into his empty case, ten-eleven-twelve hours, maybe more. He moved when the police moved him, he slept when his fingers fell away from the guitar, and I followed him, as I had followed him for seven years, from place to place, moment to moment.
I think there comes a time when the moment becomes too much. On the third day of doing nothing but listening to him play, the third of trying to coax him to eat, to drink, to speak, something broke inside of me. I begged him to listen, then I wept at his feet. He did not even pause an extra eighth-rest, nor did he stumble in the slightest when I stood up and turned my back. He did not even change his chords - it was as if I had never existed - and it was then that I felt my heart swell and shatter.
He did not know me; he had forgotten the sound of his own soul. I did not understand that, and I walked away from him, carried with him the thing that sustained him.
The next time I saw my soulmate, his eyes were a pale and glassy green, his fingers - calloused still, but cool and waxen - held no music rippling from them. I kissed cold and parted lips in a vain attempt to breathe life back into them, but it was of no use. My soul had died, and with it died any hope that I had of living.