My dearest Tirawobọ,
I’m writing this letter because I don’t think I can say what I have to say in person. You always tell me that I have a way with words, but I fear my tongue would be frozen on this occasion.
To put it plainly, I cannot be with you. I have mulled things over in my head and my heart, and as much as my love for you and my spirit of adventure want to conspire to sweep me off my feet, I realise that I need to keep my feet firmly planted on terra firma.
It would be easier if I didn’t love you, if this was just a casual fling. But we both know that that’s not the case. It was when you took me to Pemba Island that I realised. We were barefoot on the beach, looking out to the sea that seemed impossibly turquoise. I looked at you and I realised that the rapid beating in my chest and the softness that enveloped me was a feeling that I had always thought impossible.
In what cannot be, in this impossibility, there is so much that draws me to you. I am continually surprised that our differences feel so surmountable when we are together. Worlds separate us. We don’t speak the same language. Your culture and traditions are alien to me, and vice versa. And yet, these things did not stop us from making a connection.
It is not our differences that make being together impossible, it is the distance. You come from far away. I know you say you will visit, but I also know you have important work to do. Your mission is to explore. It’s more than a mission. It is part of the very fibre of your being. I see it in your eyes, the soul of a wanderer.
You are leaving soon. As I am writing this letter, I look up at the star you pointed out. The star around which your home planet orbits. It’s not that our love can’t stretch across the stars. But I realised something that night when you took me up in your spaceship, and you showed me the earth from above. You kept taking us higher, and the earth was shrinking in the distance. It was in that moment that the thought of both of us looking up, longing for each other across the stars, induced a pain that left me breathless.
I’m writing this letter so you will always have a tangible memento of the memory of me. To my mind, the memory of true love is far superior to the constant pain of separated love. I hope that you agree.
Travel well my dearest one.