A Very Curious Thing
Time has always felt fluid to me, but never more than when I was with him. Hours would flash by in a second, months elapsed in a day. A week was a year in his company. "A lifetime within a lifetime." It seems impossible, yet it was so. "Hello" never came soon enough, and "goodbye" was ever snatching us apart too soon.
Laughter pealed out like the bells of a cathedral wherever we were. I loved that. More than our laughter, I loved listening to him talk. He could create an entire world out of words. For him, there was always something wonderful in the tiniest things- whether it was in music, the clouds, or the way the leaves fell just ever so on the ground. Always fascinated, perpetually creating. Even better than the creations themselves was his desire to share them with me. It seemed like he couldn't wait to tell me and hear my response. He had a way of making me feel special.
I always wanted to touch him- a feeling that was alien to me. I've never relied on anyone for much of anything, but ye gods, how I yearned for his touch; how I loved the feel of his skin. He always felt so familiar and yet so foreign, all at once. One night in particular sticks out in my memory:
It was only May, but in Alabama that already means summer. I didn't want him to leave, so we drove to the park to watch the summer storm unfold. We lay back in his seats talking about everything and nothing. Almost kisses danced on our lips as our breath mingled. Words came less steadily, until finally silence settled over us. What was being said didn't need words. Hands tangled in hair and caught on shirt collars. Laughter, quiet this time, painted the night air with a shimmer that illuminated us down to our core. The atmosphere seemed electric, but it wasn't from the lightning. Every nerve was en pointe. I never felt more alive than in his embrace.
So safe, so warm, he felt like home- stilling my rushing mind, wrapping me up in himself like a blanket. He always called me beautiful and made me feel it, too- something no one had ever doe before.
It never mattered where we were or what we did; laughter and love filled our hearts to their brims. I promised myself that if I found someone who could make me laugh as much or more than my father, I'd marry him. Well, I found him. Had he stayed, I might have had him, too. But he left. And there he found her.
"I love you," he said. "I'll miss you," I said. "Goodbye," we said.
Two weeks have passed - or should I say two years? - but the room he occupied in my heart is still full of his memories. They crash into me like tidal waves. The door to that room is strong, but the waves, they are stronger. They rush the door, begging to break free. Begging to be spilled from their prison and allowed to fill my chest once more. I've done all I can. What good is a lock against a battering ram?
The rushing of my mind is worse than it was before. I'm much more forgetful. No, not forgetful. Just distracted. At times (more often than I should like to admit) I can't help but wonder where he is, what he's doing, if he ever thinks of me. The smallest things can trigger a monsoon of memories: a word, a song, a car, a shirt. Each thought pierces my chest and chips away at the dam that is holding everything back. Yet and still, each remembrance still brings me the inexplicable joy, just for a second. And then I realize he's gone.
Over and over and over.
I wish I could say it hurts less each time.
Missing someone is a curious thing. Sometimes there's no rhyme or reason to it. There are times when it all seems so far away, like it never even happened. And then there are times when the wounds feel so fresh, it's almost as if it's all crashing down on me again. Normally there's something there to make it hurt, but every now and then, it just hurts. It's almost a sensation more than an emotion. It feels like a void in the core of myself, one that pulsates and seems to grow and shrink. When it grows, I feel as if it might swallow me whole. But then it will shrink to the size of a needlepoint, and I can almost forget.
The night he came back, my heart nearly jumped out of my chest when I heard him pull into the drive. It would be the first time I'd seen him since he broke my heart. Anxious, nervous, excited, terrified, saddened, confused... So many emotions coursed through my mind like a rushing river; one after the other, mixing together, nearly sweeping me away.
And then I saw him, and the rushing -again - ceased. Before me stood the man that broke my heart, and all I felt was overwhelming joy. As we began to talk, I discovered nothing at all had changed: our laughter still pealed like cathedral bells, we still talked about everything and nothing, and the urge to cross that tiny distance and touch him was almost unnerving! But I couldn't, for he was no longer mine to hold.
I'd written him a letter that day. I was going to give it to him and walk away. Goodbyes can be messy and painful. A clean break would be the best way to go about it, right? Wrong. When trying to break a stick that's still green, it always splinters. Our love was still green, still new. It still had life and vitality, no matter who stood in the way.
There was no denying that what we had was special, and neither of us wanted it to go to waste, so we decided to be friends. What fools were we? It was like trying to fix the broken stick with a stapler: sure it'll hold for a little bit, but it'll fall apart sooner or later.
Sooner it was.
A week passed and I knew I couldn't go on like that. I still loved him, and couldn't be contented in just a friendship. Also, it wasn't fair to her. All I ever wanted was for him to be happy, and if she made him happy, then I really saw no choice in the matter.
Even as we said goodbye, he still looked at me the way he did the first time we met. It was the fabled "look", the one all girls dream of getting. There's no describing it since it's different for each person, but if you are so lucky as to see it, dear reader, you will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is "the look." It looks not with the eyes, nor with the mind, but with the soul. It's a look you feel from the top of your head to the tips of your toes, and in that moment, nothing else really matters.
It is that parting look that continues to give me hope, three weeks later. That hope dies a little more each day, but it is still there. As Tim Robbins' character says in The Shawshank Redemtpion, "hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."
Today, the flame of hope grows very dim, as if the slightest wind will extinguish it. But who knows what tomorrow brings? It could be a roaring fire by then. All I know is that love is a very curious thing.