“It Hurts to Set You Free”

I last wrote here in the middle of our vacation, as we enjoyed the tropical sun while our distant home was plunged into a deep freeze of historic proportions.

Now, two months later, our heroes are in a different place altogether.

I might prefer leave them in Hawaii, David and Rob, to enjoy the warm breezes and friendly faces for all time. Huddled together against the lizards in the dripping jungle, helping each other stumble through caverns carved by the goddess of lava, lording over the private lagoon from their balconied suite in the sky. It is as good a finale as any. Rob wrote a play in which he imagined a happy ending for the famous Amelia Earhart, instead of the one she actually experienced plunging into the lonely and tempestuous seas, and I could take a page from his book and write this carefree existence for the characters I created here over the past twelve years. Happily ever after.

Why do we have this idea about relationships, marriages, that they can only be successful if somebody dies at the end? We all die every day, every minute, and are born again into new possibilities in the next. I declare we can consider it a success if we spend happy times together and part as friends—as family—the better off for them. There is no such thing as happily ever after because relationships are not playgrounds; they are laboratories of life, in which complex people experiment with story and perspective and compromise and expectation in the presence of a devoted witness. Who are we, and how do we fit together? What will I give to you, and what will I give up for you? And what will we do when the answers to these questions are suddenly no longer what they were the day before, and the day before that?

In his play, Rob has Amelia Earhart sing, “This is how I write my story,” as she realizes what she was meant to do and turns her back on the happy ending for which she traversed the planet. And, my dear friends, this is how I write my story, here in these pixels. If you have been reading it since 2002, you have witnessed the beginning and the end of this chapter in my life, in which two men and a sweet little dog come together and learn and love and change . . .

. . . and then move on.

My story is that it was a success, that our time together mattered and will always matter, that we will deeply mourn what no longer is and feel our way through creating something new and different and special.

And dear reader, this is goodbye for now. You can close the covers of this book and imagine the characters living on as you like, happily ever after together in paradise, or in a new and less comfortable reality, with broken edges that don’t quite fit together the way they used to, but which will smoothen and heal as they begin writing the next chapters of their lives.