All good things must come to an end.
Those days I spent with Nook are forever etched into my memory. The peaks and troughs of emotional turbulence will resonate with me for as long as I shall live. There was so much that was so right about us, about how we fit together, but also so much which kept us from doing so.
That Perfect Day I wrote of contained very little by way of prognostication over our future, whatever it may be. We kept that out of that time, we knew we would have to face reality soon enough.
Due to the fact that Nook was unable to take any more time off from her work, as well as having her existing relationship to consider, she was not going to be able to see me the morning I had to depart homewards.
This meant that we had to talk about those Big Things and face them the day before.
Now, Nook and I know we are not the first people to be caught up in a romantic entanglement with complications, nor of course shall we be the last, but when you are in it, when you are in that moment, that experience, you are confronted with an almost existential, detached, yet fully grounded and present sense of awareness.
Every part of your being says: “This. Matters.”
What we say, what we share, what we reveal and withhold all play a role in determining what future will play out for us.
When Nook first came to me at the suite, and it was clear that the two of us were getting along very well, I made sure she knew that for me this was not just some fling, some “bit of fun” or something that was taken lightly. The emotional (and, yes, financial) investment gave testament to that. And, of course, Nook knew that of her Chair; I was not one to trifle with emotions, and as our deep and honest talk began and continued, I would like to think it was something she kept in mind as she heard my words and shared her own.
For me, an important thing to get across to Nook was that I was not putting her under pressure to “choose me over him” - and whilst there was always an element of that, what I wanted Nook to do was to see me for who I was, what I represented, and if she were to make a choice (for a choice of some sort was inevitable) I wanted her to have her eyes open, heart open, and know precisely what was available to her.
What was critical for me was that Nook made a life choice based upon what she wanted and needed. Not about expectations from family, from friends, nor even from me. I was a big boy, I could take the heartache if that is what I was due -- but Nook needed to look at her life, look at herself, and find a way forward which was right, and best, for her.
My mind wanted to scream “CHOOSEMECHOOSEMECHOOSEME” but that wasn’t what I wanted to express. It wanted to be, and had to be, more nuanced, more considered, and more considerate.
Hopefully Nook will share her own thoughts about those discussions, revelations, sharing and more we did just before I left, but until she does, I think I can safely say that she did not feel like I was putting overt pressure upon her, but merely being as open and honest as I possibly could be.
I’ve only ever wanted the best for Nook, even when we first “met” a dozen years ago. She deserved that, and I wanted her to have her eyes as open as they could be and have as much information as she wanted about what I represented, and what a life with me would mean.
If she were to make a choice to walk, hand in hand, together, with me, she needed to have all the facts she could about that version of reality and the future. It may not be for her; there were so many unknowns, and an phenomenal amount of trust would be required for her to take any sort of leap of faith to be with me.
That uncertainty about the future and the risks associated could well be just too much.
As I’ve pointed out a few times, both Nook and I are planners to a certain degree. We consider options, we understand the role of heart and head, but we both like to remove ambiguity and uncertainty from our options, as much as we possibly can.
To that end, the day before Nook and I had our deep discussion, I made a list. A short list of what my heart was saying to me about what I wanted to share with her. In fact, it was precisely 130 days ago from the time of this posting to our Story of Nook and Chair that I made this list, and yes, I still have it.
The list wasn’t for reading out to Nook - it was for helping me understand myself, and what I could offer Nook, and what, in turn, I wanted for her.
I won’t share it all here, there’s no need, but I will include one element, perhaps the one which I return to, daily, in my thoughts of Nook: Inspiration.
I wanted Nook to let me inspire her, as a woman, as a person, as a partner, in the same ways she had already done to me, simply by re-appearing in my life. Indeed, the first item on that list is: “Let me inspire you.”
This, and the rest of the items on the list, all have one thing in common - mutual, and equal, growth and happiness.
What Nook has brought to me by way of inspiration is impossible to put into words. I have never been happier, never more focussed, more driven, more certain about the direction I would like my life to take than I have become with her in my life.
Nook is, I would say, a “considered optimist” -- by that, I mean that she looks for the positive, through consideration of all of the information at her disposal. She chooses, or tries to chose, the most positive path forward, even though it may be fraught with difficulty and frustration on either side of it. Through it all, however, she tries to remain positive.
My friends know me to be a realist, some may even say pessimist. My work and life has put me in touch with a lot of the darker elements of humanity, and I’ve enough world exposure to see how much “bad stuff” goes on out there, so for me a path of somewhat cynical realism is how and where I walk.
And yet here we are. Here this site is. Here this story exists and is being told and shared. I would not say that my fundamental character has been changed; but I would say it has been inspired. I have always had a sentimental nature at heart, but it took Nook to bring that out (in a good way) and without a doubt it is her special nature, her unique character, which has combined with my own to make any of this possible.
And so it goes.
After hours and hours of talking, and crying, and laughing, and more, it was time for Nook and I to part. She had to get back to her real life, and I was departing in the morning.
We left no stone unturned with respect to those discussions. Everything was in-bounds, everything was up for sharing and asking. It was necessary, and it was good. Yes, at times it was raw and painful, but it probably should be, if it were to mean anything.
I walked with Nook, hand in hand, down the hallway of the hotel to the lift. I grasped firmly. I did not want to let go. I told her I loved her, and I was there for her, should she wish it.
We embraced at the lift.
Our stolen time together had come to an end.
I cried a little bit on my solo walk back to my room. It already felt wrong without her hand in mine.