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A once dear friend and one time lover who I fell hard and fast for, a veteran and a gentleman and nerd and romantic, everything I thought I wanted, came into my life and then slowly, painfully faded out to black. It’s been more than a year since I last heard from him; he stopped responding to me.

I wish him well.

It was really hard to let go of the fairy tale I had built around him; maybe he wasn’t really all that great, and in any case, he wasn’t really available. Which made it easier to yearn for him from afar, of course.

But the hardest thing about letting go of him was letting go of a whole version of myself that would never be. The person I thought I really was, underneath, with France and everything that has come to me since just a momentary blip on the radar.

Well, it turns out it’s not, and I will never be, and never really was, the person who would be with him and live the little life I imagined.

I miss loving someone for real, and at the end of things with him, and throughout the many ups and downs of it, still believing in a happy ending, I realized it was just a figment of my imagination, just an illusion of my mind that I had lost, not a real person. It hurt a lot though, especially to my ego.

Since then, I haven’t found anyone like him, and I don’t know that I will find anyone like him here in Paris.

But the truth is, I”m no longer the person who fell in love with that projection of him, or the future I imagined with him.

The hole in my heart has a completely different shape these days; I have outgrown him.

I thank him for the lessons, and wish him well. I don’t want him back in my life, and while my ego really wishes he would get down and beg to have me someday, and the validation of refusing him,  the truth is that I wish myself a much greater happiness than that. And I do wish the best for him.

Most of the time, I have long forgotten him.

On Veteran’s Day, I can’t help but think of the hero who wasn’t mine, but I am wise enough now to know that heroes come in many forms.

There is more than one way to have a happy ending, and love doesn’t always feel like we’d expect.

They say, when you know you know, and I think that that’s true.

I do think that sometimes you are so convinced of what you are looking for, you fail to see what’s right in front of your eyes.

Once I thought I found it, that feeling of all I’ve waited for and I could not ask for me, but I would like to think that the universe has something even better planned.

Something so wonderful, I couldn’t even have imagined it.

Not a someone to fill my checkboxes, not a key to fit the specific locks I’ve put on my heart, a king whose kiss will wake me up to things I failed to see.

Veterans, I salute you.

But I’m still waiting for my hero.