Paris, the City of Love

By John Renowden

To: Nina

Well it’s a bit odd to write this stuff rather than to talk to you about it, but if that’s what you’d rather then that’s what’s happening.

I talked to Emma about how things were while I was over there between us. She had a lot to say on the matter that I won’t repeat here, but she did push me to ask you one question. I’m going to ask it even though I feel like it is the same question that I’ve already asked, because I suppose in my mind at the moment it’s probably the most pertinent question that we – or at least I – have.

But before I do I’d like to say that in spite of everything, I had a good time when I saw you; I saw potential for our relationship to change and grow with better communication, and above all else I want to make this work with you. I understand if you don’t anymore and want to give up on us, but I hope that you will give us that chance to see if we can fix things, because after everything we’ve been through I feel like we at least owe it that – a proper, honest chance.

I know that you’ve decided you don’t want to be in as much contact anymore, and that’s cool. Focus on your schoolwork, and yourself, and know that in both regards I’m here to help, and only a message away.

My question is this: have you already made up your mind about us, or do I still have a chance?

Love Peter

P.S. I spent just over six grand on the trip, if that helps you calculate travel prices etc.


To: Nina

Okay, so Emma and I kinda just talked again about how things were while we were away and how I felt about it. I guess mainly I told her about how I felt you were a bit closed off towards me about talking about things. It felt to me like I was always the one attempting to talk things out and that you didn’t want to. But I did say that it was probably because you’d had time to think about things prior to me coming, whereas it all came at me as a bit of a shock that you felt the way that you did, which was probably why I wanted to talk to you about it, trying to process it in a way.

I said how good things were in Spain, and how hard things were at the start in Paris, but how when we talked and understood a bit more about the scenario it seemed (to me at least) that it was good to have that chance to work on things. I said that I did find it hard because I didn’t think you quite understood how much I was hurting, but I also said that I could understand where you were coming from after the way I let you down prior to you leaving.

I don’t think there was much more than that really. We talked for a long time but kinda covered a lot of the same ground that you and I had already covered, so no new information for you there really. She knows how much I want this to work so she got pretty upset about it all, but she understands.

Anyway, no big deal, just thought I’d keep you in the loop etc. Focus on your schoolwork and yourself as much as you need to. Kick this can down the road if you have to – not just this email, but this whole thing, if you want. Of course if you do want to talk etc., I’m here day and night and will always be only a message away, but don’t feel as though you have to for my sake or anything. Do what you need to do, and we can work on this when you’ve got more free time for this sort of thing.

I also attached a copy of that short story, if you get a chance/want to have a read.

Love Peter

To: Peter

Okay, I’m going to chip away at a response while I do my Africa report, so sorry if it’s clipped or scattered.

I’m sorry you thought I was being closed off, but I feel like you might also be associating that with the physical element rather than how open I was with you about everything. Of course it could also be because of the shock for you, and the time I have had to think, but I don’t think it is fair to say that you always wanted to talk to me about it. Although we did have some really good discussions, I always found that you didn’t want to talk in the moment or when things came to mind. You know that I was always open to talk about it, like I have always been with our relationship. I just wasn’t going to remind you every day about what I had decided I needed because you would have been miserable all trip and that wouldn’t have been very nice. Yeah or no?

Yeah I agree, it was a really good chance to work on things (the trip that is) otherwise I would have spent another two months dodging questions or making you feel even more in the dark. I hope you can understand than none of the conversations we had were Facebook- messenger appropriate, another reason I prompted the beginning of an email thread – just seemed a bit more intimate, as intimate as digital correspondence can be, and not just a never- ending stream of pseudo-messages that never added any real value to us or provided a platform for a real conversation; it was something that really needed to be done face-to-face. I also hope that makes sense and helps you understand where I was at with messaging etc.

Please give me a little credit in understanding how much you were hurting. I’m not an idiot and I do have a heart. It was also horrible to have to even talk to you about all of this and I would have been just as happy to act like nothing was going on for the trip – but that wouldn’t have been healthy for either of us.

There is no connection between how I felt before I left and me not understanding how you felt when you were here. I knew exactly what I would be doing and how you would feel but please don’t think that means I didn’t care, because you know I do. The trip and having to talk to you has been on my mind since I left and I talked to Valeria about it almost every day. It was just as big a deal for me as it was for you, even if I wasn’t as heartbroken. I’m sorry I hurt you but that was never my intention… it just comes with the situation and that’s something I couldn’t avoid. I hope you understand that.

In response to your first email, sorry this is so odd, but to be honest we would never have had another ‘proper’ conversation about it until I gotten back. I mean we would have messaged but I definitely think this is more effective and I find it a lot easier to communicate without us getting frustrated at each other. I think it provides us with an open and judgement free blank canvas to respond to each other with; there is no heat of the moment bullshit and no misunderstood tone, you know what I mean?

I had a really good time with you too, Peter, despite everything and whatever happens in the future, I’m glad we got to do that together and especially that we got to see Paris together. I appreciate your eagerness to work this out but can you please not talk about my decision as if it is giving up. I don’t want to sound like a total bitch but I think I deserve a lot of credit for how much effort I have put into this relationship; how resilient, patient and open I have been with us. I’m a little uncomfortable with the fact that our relationship needs to be balancing on the edge of a cliff for things to happen (I also know that that’s ridiculous and irrational because how else would any big change be forced to take place). I think I have been giving this relationship a proper, honest chance and it was clear to me that things weren’t okay for a very long time. We had also talked about divorce last year so it’s not like this ‘low point’ in our relationship is new news. I know saying all of this won’t change things or miraculously fix them, but I just want you to know where I am coming from.

Before I answer your question I want to explain why I am more ‘glass is half empty’ than ‘glass is half full’. Relationships take work, a lot of work, but if two people are working at it and nothing changes, or things deteriorate, then there isn’t much either of them can do. They cannot blame themselves or the other person. Sometimes life is just too much and to take on the challenge of life, someone else’s life, and trying to merge those as one with as much balance as possible is a trying task; one that continues to challenge all relationships, everywhere, on a daily basis. I guess what I am saying is; I’m not giving up, but I have been working and I only see us going backwards. I don’t want either of us to spend our lives working at something and never see any return. There may be small glimpses of hope but is that really enough? Is that how we should be living our lives? How we live our days is how we live our lives… If there are too many bad ones and not enough good ones, then how can we say we lived a good life?

So yes, in a way I have made up my mind – I know in my heart that I am struggling and that there is little desire left to be in this relationship, but in my head there is a battle every day to not give up.

I’m really sorry but that’s how I have been feeling, and even when I have a good day and think it will be okay I always end up back at that point – battling to find the desire – and to me that is so very important. Without it what do we have?

To: Nina

Honestly, I give you so much credit for how much this must have hurt you, and the resilience it must have taken you, when I was unaware of just how you felt. It must have been terribly difficult for it to be so one-sided. I can’t even begin to thank you for the courage it must have taken just for you to maintain a positive frame of mind.

I know you’re not heartless, I wasn’t meaning to insinuate that you were. You’re the kindest, most caring person that I know.

I agree with your point about not being able to talk ‘properly’ until you get back. I think rather than me attempting to determine where I stand with you, I think you’re right, we won’t know any of that until you’re back, and we give this a proper shot rather than cyber- communicating from opposite ends of the world. No matter how well-intentioned either of us are, it’s never going to be a true reflection of our relationship until we are reunited in the same time and place. In that light I’d like to hope that we’d give it the chance to work properly in that environment.

I understand completely your ‘glass half-full’ attitude right now. It’s hard not to, especially from the other side of the world when we only have this kind of communication, and your memory of the way we burned brightest. However, I want to be able to show you that not only will I make each and every day that you live a good one when you are home again, but happier than you have ever been. I want to give you that, it’s all I want in this world, and I’d do anything to make that happen.

Right now it might seem like we’re going backwards. But right now communication is hard. We’re as far away from each other as any two humans have ever been without leaving the planet. And when you do come back to New Zealand, I want to promise you that things can and will be different between us, for the better. At the heart of our relationship is that streak of love that started everything we have, and even though we have been through so much, I want to take your hand and lead you back there, and make you happy again.

I love you more than you could ever know, and all I want is to make you happy.

As a side note, everyone misses you back home. Liam misses you, Emma misses you, Julie misses you. Mouse has been sleeping under the covers every night because it’s been cold, and even though I put the electric blanket on he still sleeps there, so I think he must miss you too.

Good luck with your assignments, if there is anything that I can do let me know. I’m here to help as always – no matter what is happening between us, I’m here to help as much as I can, even though I know that you’re far smarter than I am and can do it all with one hand tied behind your back.

All of the forehead kisses in the world for my special little chicken.

Peter. Xx

To: Peter

So I’m re-reading my email and your response and realising I haven’t made myself clear enough.

You said you’re still trying to determine where you stand with me but I thought I had made it clear, or at least clearer than what you seem to think. I’m sorry. I’m moving out because I don’t want this, I don’t want to be in this relationship anymore. I didn’t say we wouldn’t know how everything is between us until I got back, I just said we wouldn’t be able to talk again properly.

I’m sorry, Peter, but the more we talk the more certain I am becoming of my decision and how I feel. We’re not even on the same page right now, even after all we talked about while you were here. I feel like what I have said has been taken too lightly (although I know you take this very seriously) or misinterpreted.

To me the distance, time, place or environment doesn’t make a difference. We were living in a happy environment, and we’d finally found the home I was so desperately looking for, but it didn’t help. Once all the bullshit and drama in our lives had disappeared and we were left with just us, two people in a normal relationship and healthy environment (for a change), everything was different. I worry that we didn’t really know who the other was without all the heartache and the suffering, and that’s why our relationship blossomed and moved so quickly. I think we needed it so that we needed each other. We never had a chance to focus on each other, and now we’ve finally had that chance we’re not the same two people sleeping on the floor of your parent’s garage.

To be honest, I have been more glass half full while I have been over here because I know how life changing and amazing this experience has been, but I know that as soon as I return home I’m going to snap right back into the mind frame I was in before. I’m sorry but it wasn’t a positive one like you said.

I know you only have good intentions, and you say you’ll do anything to make this work and make me happy, but were you completely oblivious to the way we treated each other while you were here? Nine months apart couldn’t even change that.

I really hate to be shutting you down, as I always seem to do, but I just don’t think you understood where I was coming from or where I’m at with this.

I don’t think we’re going backwards because of communication, but because of everything I said in my last email and in this one. I don’t think we are the same people anymore. Sure, change is normal, but I think we have grown too far apart, especially at my end. Growing has been a really good thing for me personally, but at the cost of growing out of our relationship.

All we have been doing for five years, especially during your visit, was trying to communicate but we can’t seem to get it right. That’s not the point but still a valid one.

I’m sorry, I realised I haven’t made this all clear enough.

My heart’s not it in anymore, Peter. I’m so exhausted and I can’t just start again. It’s not as easy as that for me.

I know this will be a horrible email to read, and I can’t apologise enough for putting you in this position and for hurting you, but this needs to be clear. For you and for me.

Please send my love to everyone! A special hug for Julie and Liam. I miss Mouse so much. I hope he’ll even remember who I am.

To: Nina

I don’t know what to say to this right now, so don’t think I’m ignoring you.

To: Nina

So I’ve had a proper think about everything over the last week, and have read and re-read your emails more times than I can count, and I think I understand.

I’ve only ever wanted to make you happy, and as I no longer do, letting you go seems to me to be the only option. Let’s end things here while – I hope – we can still salvage our friendship, if that would be something that you would want.

Sorry if this seems short, but you might be able to understand that this is difficult for me.

To: Peter

Hey 🙂 Sorry this took so long, things have been crazy here and then I thought I had replied for some reason. Idiot, sorry! Thank you for understanding, I could never thank you enough for that, and thank you for letting me go. One thing we always agreed on was how we were best friends before anything else, so I don’t see any reason that we cannot salvage that.

Sorry that this is also short, I get it. I don’t really know what else to say until I see you. Other than the obvious, I hope you are well.

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John Renowden

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