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On closing doors and what to leave open

I have always been afraid of endings. I am not sure why I developed a fear of change, especially since much of my life has been lived in longing for something better. This is probably why I often hold on to things too tightly and tend to let go too late.

As I live through my thirties, however, I have come face to face with one ending after another, most of them predictable and inevitable, some of them unexpected.

I grieved through many of these changes, even the ones I wanted or even caused to happen, knowing that these were the end of some important stages of my life.

The endings I grieved the most, naturally, were those of friendships. Before some of those friendships came to an end, I had only known loyalty and grief that flows towards reconciliation. I had had disagreements with friends before, but we had always patched things up to either bring back the old order of things or build something new and stronger.

I had never known myself to be one to detach, especially after loving so deeply. I used to call bull on people giving up on people they still loved. But now, even without understanding how it can come to this, I know in my heart that there are some doors that need to remain closed as much as there are some doors that have to be left open even if nobody ever enters again.

One night, a long time ago, in a foreign country, I cried realizing a friendship had come to an abrupt end. The next morning I woke up with a conviction that I deserved better. All is forgiven and forgotten, and there is nothing but good wishes and affection, but that door is closed and labeled for that.

One night, much recently, in Manila, a friend I had loved since my teens told me to get out of her life. I had not imagined life with that door closed, not at all, and it hurt to imagine how things might have to be different. But perhaps that friend is a different person now, and maybe it hurts her to be with the person that I have become, so maybe -- and by maybe I mean I hope not -- our paths are headed in completely different directions. Still, love has left me holding the knob, ready for the door to open. That door is labeled for that.

Last night, I heard from someone I never thought I would hear from again. "I am looking for an old friend," he said, "Are you her? Do you remember me?"

Was I still her? I asked myself, as I composed my quick reply. What I did not write was: Of course I remember you. How can I not? You broke my heart.

Through the years, I have been revisiting that door, thinking of locking it up and managing to talk myself into just leaving it a little bit open until one of two things would happen: either I would understand why what happened had to happen or I would stop caring. So close to the latter, too many years later, suddenly the door swings open.

I understand, of course, that this can mean yet another stage, that of me after him, is changing.

There is a difference, though: Whatever happens this time around, I have already decided it will have a happy ending.

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