That's the trouble with falling in love with a musician. Not the late nights, or the people that want to be with you, none of the things that you worried would bother me. It's the the fact that I can't listen to anything without thinking of you. Without wondering whether at some point you've sat and listened to this song too. Without thinking about the nights I've spent watching you sing your feelings to a room of strangers and then gone home together just to sit on the couch and listen to the songs that helped make us who we are. Wondering how one could be so private and the other could not. Standing in a dark room, watching you nervously throw all of your feelings out there for the world to feel with you. Wondering if any of it was meant just for me.
You wrote a song once, about sitting in parking lots. About being young, drunk, and alone. About friendship and sadness. About the youth that we all have to leave behind. We talked about it one night, and you came to see that that song meant a little more to me that you'd first expected. I'm not sure if you were surprised because you can't fathom me feeling that way, or because you simply thought you were the only one. My life has changed, and the wild winds of my youth have blown me in all directions. I'm not a kid in a parking lot today, but sometimes I wish I still was. There's a certain kind of simplicity in the silence, a certain kind of understanding that comes from that kind of sadness. I told you I'd never want to go back to those days, but I think I was wrong. I sit alone still, older, in my own space, drinking tea, and stress is still tugging on my face. And in these quiet moments, I wish I could go back to those moments, if only to see if I could meet you there.
I don't need you to fix me, and I know that you don't want me to try to fix you. You get scared when I forgive you for things that you can't forget. And I do the same when you say things that remind me how much more you understand than most people. We could talk all day about how we're just too gnarly on the inside for the world. We understand each other because we both feel the same nagging sensation that we don't deserve the love we receive. We love each other anyway. We comfort each other because we both feel too complicated to be understood. So we're spontaneous and complicated together. We talk about it rather than pretending it's not there. I don't think I could ask for more. We're just holding hands while we fix ourselves.
Being with you feels right. When you're helping me cook dinner. When you come up with soundtracks for the time we spend together. When we sit on back patios with your family and our friends, sipping IPAs late at night. And even though you've told me that you don't want me to expect anything from you because you don't feel like you have enough to give, you give everything you have without even thinking about it. I'm okay with being alone, I can be okay by myself, I promise. But that doesn't mean that waking up next to you doesn't feel better than waking up alone. I drove home this morning and I'm already counting the days to next weekend. And even though my life goes on even when we're not together, I still look forward to the days we do spend together.
The universe is expanding and collapsing inside me, on repeat every second of the day. Every breath that I take. I hang on your words like a bee stuck in it's own honey. Drowning in the pools of sweetness we've constructed. I've never felt so safe outside of my own head, sharing my own bed, knowing the kind things that you've said. My heart beats for you, and you can't see it, but in the quietest moments, on mornings when we're being lulled back into reality you've whispered that you can hear it. And I'm glad to know the serenity of falling asleep listening to your heart beat.
I remember afternoons on the cliffs, taking long drags off cigarettes, whispering into the wind as it whipped our hair across our cheeks. I remember these small, tragically beautiful moments, our desperate attempts at romanticizing our own sadness. How else could we have passed the time and still survived? We were a snapshot in time, stuck in our sadness in the past. We've grown since then to be so much more than that, but there's something strangely special about those moments. Something about it that's burned into my memory, the smell of smoke mixing with the salty sea air. Kelp rotting away on the shore below us, like a sick metaphor for what we were doing to ourselves. The wet tips of my canvas shoes from carelessly stepping through puddles, and the familiar feeling of cold feet.
I feel myself falling in love with you. Melting into a sweet familiarity. You're the only person that I've ever been able to talk to this way. The only one I could ever talk to for five hours at a time multiple nights out of the week and not run out of things to say. You've told me your stories, with a kind of timidness in your voice I wouldn't have expected. You let the details slip out as you add polite disclaimers, hoping I won't think any less of you for your mistakes. I find myself falling further especially in those moments that make you fear a sudden halt. I find myself dreaming of your arms wrapped around me, and remembering the way my face feels pressed into your neck. I catch myself missing you at all hours of the day. And that's how I know that I love you.
I think we both whisper that we love each other almost silently between each breath as we talk sweetly late into the night. And even when you don't say it out loud in those words, you say things that prove that you understand. When I'm feeling crazy, you know what to say, and you remind me of the things that I've told you when I didn't even realize you were listening to remember. You show me that I'm not crazy and that I'm just too hard on myself. And apparently I do the same for you. And we talk about the people that have hurt us. And we talk about why it hurt so much. And you say perfect things like, "thank you for telling me so I can know how and why you're hurting." It's things like that that make me know that those words must almost slip out between your teeth as often as I find myself holding them back behind mine. I love you, even if we're too shy to say it out loud.
You said some of the saddest shit today. You told me that you know that some day my life will grow past you, and that you’ll understand if I lose you along the way. And that one day we’ll all be home visiting our families and that you’ll understand when I tell you about how amazing my life is, and you’ll understand when someone less complicated than you falls in love with me if I follow my dreams with him instead. You said all of this like it’s known somehow. And it broke me a little bit, because I would love to do all these wonderful things you believe I’m capable of, but for a while now I’ve been thinking that it might be sort of perfect if you came along and we could follow some of your dreams, because I believe in you too. I realized this morning that I really don’t think you know how much I love you.
Once upon a time, you said something poetic and sad. You leaned close in a diner booth and told me, "one day when you know me better, maybe you'll wish you didn't know me so well." But we've talked everyday since then. I know more about you now that I think most people around you get to. And I find it hard to imagine going from where we stand today, to any point that would make you unloveable. I wonder now why you said it at all, if there's some big secret left to be revealed. It there's some telenovela twist waiting down the line. I also wonder if you said it to see if I'd dare to try.
You’re the one I want to be with. The one who dances at gas stations at one in the morning. The one who stands in driveways with me, a little too drunk, and only lets me take one drag off his cigarette because they’re not good for me. The one who gives me food when I pick him up. The one who sits on swings on the bluffs and tells me how his life really is. The one that tells me how he feels even though it’s fucking hard. The one who sits on my kitchen floor playing guitar. The one who talks to dogs and gets embarrassed when he remembers I'm listening. The one that reads books with me. The one that calls me to talk about what I ate for dinner. The one that sits with me in diner booths and takes pictures of me blushing. The one who loves my best friends as much as I do, even though he also understands their flaws. The one that tells me he’s proud of me for doing what I’m doing because it’s fucking hard. The one that tells me about his heroes and helps me learn why they’re important. The one who tells me about his dreams like they’re on the horizon and he expects me to be there. The one who texts me every day even when I’ve moved to a different city. The one who tells me his secrets, even though I know talking about how he feels is his biggest challenge. The one who listens to me when I'm confused and sad and makes me laugh instead. The one who will keep doing little, beautiful things so this list will never end…
I'm a hopeless romantic, and you can tell every time I'm falling in love whether it's with someone I know, someone I wish I knew, or a version of someone I wish could exist. And they all come back around because fate likes to remind me how much my feelings roll through cycles. And I read things that I wrote two, three, four, five years ago and the same people echo through everything. And every time someone new steps into the lineup, they become a recurring theme, a trope in the story arc of my life and it's madness. But like I said, I'm a hopeless romantic, so no matter how much I bitch and moan about how tiring it can all get, there's not a day that passes that I don't secretly love every moment of it. Reading back through the archives of my life and finding evidence of the smallest moments, that may have been fleeting, but whose influence were profound. It's a mystery and a miracle and I love every moment.
We're sitting in the same kitchen where I showed you I could take whiskey shots without chasers, and three years later we're standing on the exact same tile floor and you're calling me beautiful, and you're introducing me to your friends with care. Your lips are pressed into the side of my face. That night three years ago was two days after I realized I liked you. I spent two and a half years trying to chase you. I gave up six months ago, I was just too fucking tired of playing this game. And here we are again, and you're kissing me while she watches and I don't like it. I'd rather flirt with your best friend.
It's funny how just a few short years can change the way you feel about all of the people you used to know. The whole process of them becoming "someone you used to know," without you even noticing is a bizarre ride. It's funny that a few years after graduation, when people are home to visit their parents, taking a minute long break from their new lives, you see all these strangers who used to be somebody to you. And you make small talk, with a beer in your hand as a security blanket. Keeping the prop so you can blame it on being drunk if the conversation derails the next time you meet them along the road. And it's funny that when those somebodies become people you don't know, how little their thoughts about you seem to matter. How little the opinion of someone you cared to impress means to you anymore. And you swallow down the moment in a last awkward gulp of your beer and then you take your opportunity to bail, "I need a refill."
To the boy who sits in front of me in history.
You've become a beautiful mystery to me. Whether I'll ever get to know you past the date of our final, I do not know. But for these fleeting moments, I appreciate the things you have to say.
I like that you give no fucks about saying exactly what you think.
I like that you let it all come from the heart.
I like that when I see your big brown eyes, they don't make me sad.
I like that all of the things that stand out about you are not just because they're a mirror image of the last person I loved.
Maybe one day, I'll bump into you and say something smooth. Or maybe I won't.
But until the last time we both walk out of our history room, I promise to appreciate the moments we share.
the girl who sits behind you.