He sat on the weathered bench at the picnic table under a huge and familiar oak tree. We were at a park that I had loved to play at as a child, with its hills and enormous jungle gym. I sat next to him, so elated to be back from my first year of college and just minutes, instead of hours, away from him again.
But something was different.
He took my hand in his and gently caressed it like he’d done so many times before and suddenly I saw it in his eyes.
This isn’t working anymore Elaine.
Automatically the park became my least favorite place on earth. I thought the tree might fall on me. I couldn’t breathe and my heart started to beat a zillion times a minute. I could feel the heat flood my face like someone had placed me right before a huge flame. Tears immediately filled my eyes and my head fell, facing the dirt. I could see tiny ants going about their business. How could they?
I knew we’d both changed a lot in the last nine months. His love letters were less frequent. He didn’t talk of us getting married anymore. I’d kissed someone else. Apparently so had he. But I never expected this. I felt like I’d been punched in the gut by my best friend. He was strong enough to know the truth and make this decision and I was not. Even that was more crushing.
I remember my mother coming to comfort me as I cried for a few days. I did love him as much as any 19 year old could. I thought my world had come to an end.
I never expected this detour.
But it was one of the best ones that I could have ever been forced to take. I’d hoped for one path but was sent on another by his choice.
At first this new path took me to a few places that I probably shouldn’t have gone but ultimately led me to “the one” – the person that became my final destination.
I wish I could have taken away some of the pain and ache that lingered after he drove me back to my parents house that day. But otherwise, I would keep things the same.
It’s funny how something we consider a turn for the worse can end up being one of the best things ever.
write – fiction or non-fiction – about a time when you took a detour. Where had you intended to go and where did you end up?