Last night we completed year number two of our newly found tradition. As I sat across the train car table, nothing could even compare to the sight of you. We sipped on fancy water like it was wine, while we sat there and reminisced about what the year had brought us. We realized then, that not much had changed. We were still having the same conversations that we had the year before, the same silly jokes and the name calling. We sat there, in love, but a love that was different than before. You see, last year, we had a kiddish love. The kind where everything you said was funny, and I just rolled my eyes in utter bliss. Although the conversations seemed to be the same, they turned out to be quite different. Now, our love was mature. Instead of the giddiness like that of last year, there was a serious tone. We talked about life, about our wedding, about each other. Then you mentioned that you couldn't make every decision for me, and that I would just have to learn how to do it for myself sometimes. As I heard those words, they had a sting to them. A year ago, you would have readily made any of the decisions that I would face. But something has changed. You were being truthful. So as my eyes teared up, I realized you loved me even more than before. No longer were you willing to cushion my every fall, but rather you were willing to help me grow. Although we picked at each other and peeled back the layers to get underneath, it was all done love. I realized then, at that moment, that I would rather have a truthful, honest love, over a sugarcoated wonderland. Without a doubt, I would choose the endless nights of the same old things, rather than a love where I felt like I had to be more than I really was. You accept me as is, but you encourage my best. And that in itself is better than any silly life of pointless adventures.
It's kind of discouraging, you know? I am nineteen and soon to be married. It's kind of scary. Any time we tell anyone, it's a negative response. No one seems to believe in love anymore. It's sad. Sure, I'm young, but that shouldn't discredit any of the feelings that I have inside. I have been through a lot of shit that has forced me to grow up much quicker than the people around me. I am nineteen, but I have more of the maturity and wisdom of an older person. So has he. We are both older adults, trapped in these young bodies. We are old enough to know what love is, and we are old enough to know that this is what we want. We don't want to spend the rest of our youth making the dumb decisions that we have made so many times before. We have both already experienced first loves and broken hearts. We know what we want and what we don't want out of life. It's going to be hard, and sometimes it's going to be lonely. But I think it is worth it. We are both surrounded by so many people who don't support us and who are still stuck chasing after the childish things of their youth. We have both already started growing up, stepping out of those childish happenings. We are young, but we are old too. Don't try to tell us that we are in for a life of misery. We know what real love is. Isn't that enough?
Five months had gone by since I had last heard from him. The last conversation I remember having with him was when he asked about my new love life. I guess once he saw that I had finally moved on to find something beautiful, he figured that there was no point in him trying to stay connected in my life. For months I believe he kept me around, dangling me up and down by my feelings for him. I was always his friend to turn to and the one who would give him a pick-me-up on any given night. But when I discovered a new love, he realized that maybe he shouldn't have kept me around. I didn't have the same feelings for him that I once used to. I was happy again, and that was detrimental to him. He wanted me to be happy. He truly did. But he just never expected it to happen too soon. Five months had passed since he stopped loving me, and now six months have passed since I have stopped loving him. He shot me a text the other day, I guess just to see how my new love was going. My six month anniversary is coming up, exactly a year from the day he made me his. Crazy coincidence. A lot can happen in a year.
I stutter. Not bad, but just enough for people to notice and not say anything, simply to avoid embarrassing me. I have always known this about myself, but as I started getting older, I realized that a teenage girl with a stutter isn't the absolute most attractive thing in the world. With time, I began staying quiet in busy conversations and crowded rooms. I learned to not speak unless I was with someone who would not mind the slight stutter in my voice when I spoke. It wasn't until I was sitting with him in a small out-of-the-way diner that I realized he was aware of this imperfection of mine. He mentioned it casually, and went on about the conversation like we were discussing the weather. My face changed to that shade of red that I always get when nervous, and he calmly took my hand. He was the first person to bring this up and the first person who knew exactly what to say. He didn't laugh at me like most people usually do. Instead, he said that it was something that he liked about me and something that he had told his mom about me early on. He welcomed this imperfection and saw it as worth keeping. This is why I am thinking that he might just be the person with a few slight imperfections worth keeping in my life.
When he asked me to tell him about what had been going on in my life, I had no idea where to begin. Could I really tell him the truth? About the fuck ups I made that actually led me to my happiness? His request caught me off guard. I didn't think he truly wanted to hear the intimate details of my life. So much had changed over the past few months, and other things had begun to take the place that he once held in my life. In a way, it felt as if it were a betrayal to tell him of the new man who was beginning to love me for who I am. For years, he had tried to learn to love me, but I just wouldn't ever let him. Now, I have entrusted my flaws with someone else and hoped that they would not use them against me. But as I began to fill up the silence with the things that had begun filling up my life, I could feel his part in my life dwindling down.
When I called him up, simply to check in and see how he was doing, he started to question my love life, like most friends or ex-lovers do. I told him that since he left, no man had been able to take his place. We laughed as he joked, asking what I had been doing wrong. But through the laughter, I began to feel my chest tighten. It made me wonder, what was it about me, the thing that ran people away? Why was I still so lonely? It took a few weeks to get this question out of my head, and really, it hadn't completely gone away. On the night that I had been brave enough to go on my first real date since everything had happened, I realized that maybe it hadn't been me all along. Instead, I had just been looking in the wrong places, searching through the wrong hearts. Somehow though, I found a heart that made me happy, even before the first date. I had discovered someone who was rough around the edges, but also wanted someone to help them smooth it out, or at least accept their imperfections. In this moment, I thought back to the lurking question...why had I been alone for so long? Maybe I just hadn't found the heart that wanted to love me. And maybe I still haven't. But I guess we will both never know unless I give out a few chances and try to prove him wrong.
It is truly scary how we can sometimes change, to the extent that we don't even recognize ourselves for a while. I think almost everyone can relate, whether their mask was for the better or for the worse. Sometimes we are broken beyond repair, and we twist and turn ourselves into a foreign shape, just to feel whole again. But when we come back from this brokenness, it doesn't even really seem like we have been put back together. Other times, we go up. We try to put our lives back together, replacing the tears with joyful smiles on our faces, only to become a stranger to ourselves in a way that we do not understand. I think the way we feel pain is the thing that makes us so lost. There is no right or wrong way that we should deal with hurt. We are either pushed to a sadness that is unrecognizable or we are pushed to an unsettling happiness that is not us either. The scary thing about both of these is that it is not who we are. We create versions of ourselves that choose to handle destruction in different ways. Sometimes these versions stay for a while; they make themselves at home inside of us. Making them go away if even harder when you acknowledge them. Once we see that our true selves are not within us any longer, it is difficult to convince these mutations to leave us. The secret to this is to let these things inside of us die down. If we don't give them what they need, they start to wear down. When this happens, we begin to recognize the familiar features of who we used to be. Somewhere underneath all the desperation, who we are still remains. Sometimes it just takes some digging to find it. We never really left; we just got covered up by our mind's adaptation to grief.
Life used to be so easy when you lived right across the hall. I would crawl into bed with you and just cry on the nights that I felt my heart breaking. It was simply enough to just lay there with you by my side as you waited on an explanation, though one did not always come. I used to feel safe with you, but now I feel as if my safe place has been taken away. My world has become a thunderstorm, and the only shelter I have is a million miles away. Nothing feels right anymore without you here. I seem to keep breaking my own heart, just to prove that I am still alive. But what's the point if I have no one there to help me get back up?
Sometimes we give ourselves away. And when we do this, we think we are somehow making ourselves whole. We, as people, believe that in order to get back the missing pieces that we lost along the way, we must ultimately offer up a small part of ourselves. We believe that this barter system is fair. Sadly, we never realize what exactly it is that we are trading ourselves in for until we try to find those parts again. By the time we realize what we have given away, who we were is already too far gone to get back. The pieces that we have given away to other people, have already been trashed and thrown away. How silly we were to think that a few moments of happiness could ever come close in value to a piece of who we are. We somehow believe that by offering up the most intimate parts of ourselves to a person with a reckless heart will get us something so much more. In the end, we find that we never really read the fine print. What we gave away was never meant to make us whole, but rather to leave a hole inside of us.
I had always been the girl who looked a little bit too deeply into things, trying to find a sense of meaning in it all. I was desperate, not to be loved, but rather to be in a place of passion and excitement. The problem with this is that when you get to that place, you never want it to end. Instead, you want to change this place into somewhere that you can stay; somewhere that you can feel safe. I found this kind of place, but I am still not sure of what it is. This place was the cab of his pickup truck, with my hand resting softly in his. My heart was beating fast as I curled up next to him in the woods, using words only when it was necessary. I cannot say whether this was something special to him, or just something he did with every girl. But last night was enchanting for me. Even the way he drifted through gravel back roads, exploring places that I had never been. It made me feel alive with excitement. There was no sort of promise or commitment that went along with this; just simply a night of ease. He knew how to make me feel special, still giving me space to breathe. This place was our secret. I just hope that one day, he doesn't try to keep this secret away from me.
I have always heard it said that smell is the strongest sense that is tied to our memories. It makes sense why I always avoid that one type of perfume on my shelf when getting ready. But on the days that I do use it, everyone seems to take a step back. Before that smell was tied to you, people would always tell me how nice I smelled. Now, it is like they can smell every encounter that we experienced together that summer. Instead of smelling the perfume, they can smell the tears and see the bruises. They sense the screaming matches and the I love you's. The scent of our love is not confined to a single smell. That smell captures every little bit of who we were. When people smell that perfume on my skin, they sense the heartbreak that goes along with it. Maybe that's why no one wants to get that close to me again. They're scared that what I'm wearing will soon turn into the same perfume that I used with you.
It's crazy how in the current generation, intimacy is seemed to have faded. But to me, that is far from true. Although it isn't the conventional ways of intimacy that we experience, there is definitely something there. Like in the way that he didn't ever see my fully unclothed to have to think I was beautiful. Yeah, you could say it was all about just getting the sex. But if you felt how I did in that moment when it was just me and him alone, there was complete and total intimacy between us. It was in the way he would wrestle me and stay just inches from my face before he kissed me. The anticipation and the passion..that was intimacy. It may have not been the most conventional, but it worked. Intimacy isn't a thing that you share with one person over the course of a lifetime; it can be shared with many. And I believe that in those moment of vulnerability, that is when things become the most intimate. I believe in intimacy and love. Maybe not in the say way that my parents do, but I certainly believe it is there.
I hate the way that I am. I find this kind of sad because I find it so hard to hate a person. Regardless of how many times a person screws me over, I still find a way to see the good in them. There's a part of me that believes good can always be found in a person, no matter how deep you have to dig to find it. And I think this is what messes with me the most. I can be angry, upset, pissed off. Someone can take the very last bit out of me, and I will still look for a reason to ask for them back. I see the good, and I see the bad. But even after I see someone's flaws, I work ten times harder to look for something that makes up for that. And I guess this is why I still look for reasons for him to love me back, even though he is already sharing those words with someone else. I figure that if he is capable of loving someone, then maybe he will realize that he is loving the wrong one. I know now that I fell in love with person he was trying to make me believe that he was, but damn, I miss those parts of him so badly. I know it wasn't love, not even in the slightest sense. But it broke me, so it had to have been something close to it, right?
When I look back on the relationship that we shared, I don't really get mad. I am not upset that we didn't work, although I am deeply saddened by it. What we had together was sort of like a snow globe. We were dancing close to perfection, and we were what people dreamed escape into, away from their unflattering lives. But one day our snow globe love got shaken up by things inside of him, leaving the little beautiful pieces, floating around us until they were ready to settle. We were a snow globe taken by surprise when the world decided to pick us up and give us a shake, throwing chaos into our atmosphere. The pieces settled, but never the way they were once before. You can only get so close to perfect until the world shakes it all away. Even after everything calms down and the beauty remains, we can still see the places that have changed. It's impossible to back to that snow globe love. We were beautiful in the chaos, but we were always destined to be shaken up.
Sometimes I find comfort in the things I already know. At times, it can be much easier to lean on the things that are familiar to me. When I can't find the words to write, I look back over the things I have already written, because in a sense, they are all the same. Everything I have written has a piece of me in it. At the core of everything I try to create, it is really just me trying to mold another part of myself into words that fit well together on a page or a screen. Sometimes I don't need to find new ways to recreate who I am; I just simply need some comfort in who I have grown to be. There's a sort of safety that I feel when I look back over where I have come from. Seeing my journey as a writer and as a person helps me know where I am and where I need to go. Sometimes the best friend that we can find and the best inspiration we could possibly discover, comes from the people we used to be. No one knows us better than the people that we have evolved from. We are essentially our old selves, with just a little more added in. And although the old versions of who we are don't always know the best advice to give, they are much more likely than someone who knows nothing about us at all.