It’s time to leave. I know that, but I don’t know how to do it.
Those who never fell in love laugh at those who have, thinking they would be too strong for such a thing. Until it happens to them, of course. And then you think the thing that has happened to so many others is only yours, and no one else has ever felt this way before.
Falling in love with a country in a war that isn’t yours is like that first blinded embrace against which all others pale.
And I don’t know how to leave.
How do I look her in the eyes and say I’ll never see you again?
How do I walk down her streets and away from something that drew me harder and truer than anything ever has?
It isn’t my war to fight, I know, and that’s what they say to me. They say it’s time to come home and that my life is back in the other place and that I don’t see things clearly. But what could be clearer than this?
They say things like I care too much and I’m too attached and I’ve stayed too long and they talk about responsibility and real life and living the way I’m supposed to.
They say these things and in the thinking part of me I understand. But thinking isn’t how true things happen.
Truth happens walking back in the middle of the night, high on wine, after dropping her off at her doorstep and kissing her good-bye and feeling the weight of everything gone and the before and the after mixed in the now as you walk through squares and along streets that are full in the day but empty in the night and it is only you and you have the whole world all for yourself. And the world inside of you, too.
Anything seems possible then. You dream bigger and walk lighter and feel happy and fearless and wish that you could stay forever in this moment.
Maybe that’s why love and war twist and tangle the way they do.
Those two things have the power to erase yesterday and tomorrow and make you want today more.
To find a person, or a cause, that is more important than you is the highest thing a soul can do, after all. And once you have done the one you can do the other with ease.
And when you find a reason to live that’s stronger than the fear of dying, well, that also makes the leaving harder to do. That’s why warriors fight harder and love harder than anyone else.
And that’s why I fell in love with Ukraine, and her. And that’s why it breaks my heart to leave. If I had forever left to give, it would be for her and here and this.
So one more drink, just a little longer. Time to walk back soon, but not right now. I’ll say good-bye and cross back over, but not quite yet. It’s still tonight, and her and here and this is still all mine.
This is, and forever will be, my war.