subject line: one year later. June 26, 2015 by Hannah Brencher greensboro, north carolina This time last year, we sat across the table from each other with equally nervous stances. We ate chips and salsa and I answered questions from your inquisitive co-workers. I was the girl you brought to dinners and cautiously held hands with while river tubing. We teased each other while walking through bookstores, found excuses to hug the other when we parted for the night. We told our friends how crazy we were about the other, yet never dared actually say it out loud to each other. It really was a summer straight out of a young adult novel: late night car rides, shared fears, and one too many chances left untaken.Now it’s a year later, and once again we are sitting across a table from each other, but this time the circumstances are a little different. We’re drinking iced chai lattes (mine with soy milk and vanilla, yours with a double shot of espresso. Even our tea choices show how slightly off our relationship always has been) and you can’t stop gushing about your new boyfriend. This year has changed us both. One year ago, I was the girl you brought to work events but weren’t quite sure what to call when introducing me to people. Now I’m actually one of your coworkers and having to dodge full answers when asked how I found my job. One year ago, you sat with me over late night pizzas and surprised me with burritos at my job. Now we squeeze in time for cups of coffee in the midst of hectic schedules. One year ago, I was unsure if you’d ever fess up to your feelings. Now I’m nearly engaged to someone else, and you finally decided this guy was worth risking your emotions for.Our relationship will never be one that is easily explained, impossible to capture in one term. You are my best friend, my coworker, and the last guy I almost dated before meeting the love of my life. But most of all, you are the one who taught me how important it is to stay. You taught me the importance of taking a risk, made me see the value in standing up and admitting what I want. You helped me find a voice. Even though I fell flat on my face and you chose to move on, I would take the risk again and again and again. The risk is what taught me how to see my own worth even when no one else can. By not choosing me, you gave me the greatest gift of all: self acceptance. So I stayed. We made it through the awkward stages of letting go, yet we stayed in the other’s life, just in a new role. We make much better best friends, anyway.Thank you for teaching me how to choose someone, how to take a risk, how to stay. By letting me go, you helped me become who I am today. I hope we never stop challenging each other, no matter what our relationship is defined by. You mean too much for me to just let you go. I just hope you feel the same way.