4 separate vignettes of love. (In all its fluid flavors, of course.)
It's... certainly been an interesting few months.
I remember when I crashed into you,
All breathless laughter and stumbling limbs;
How my hand found your waist, and we settled for a just moment.
Two pillars leaned together in the mayhem, nothing but each other’s weight to bear us.
And your head fell, it’s auburn locks tucked into the space between my chin and collar bone; gentle, cautious even, as the pool cue slipped out of my hand for the second time that night.
I remember sitting, lonely and huddled under the grey sky, as early autumn wind seeped through my hoodie. Wilted and witless as exhausted seeped through…
I remember seeing you.
Watching you wrestle the stubborn, half-automated door open, far faster than it wanted to go.
Where you were headed before, I’ll never know.
Because seeing you, and seeing you see me, and watching you turn on a dime, like I mattered most?
It pushed the question further than I knew to grasp it.
(Even when I ran out of words, you stayed. I remember half-laying on the bench, drained and disheartened, wishing I could muster the energy to be more interesting. More…anything. Half reaching for another story to tell, halfway to giving up, my head eventually sank down.)
(I remember falling asleep, and I remember waking up; both to the bell, and your smile. As we walked inside together, I marveled at how I could be less around you. That you would let me half-exist, until I was ready to be real again.)
(I remember it meaning everything.)
What I remember most...is our strange little game. The single-minded goal, the precision, and the unmatched triumph of unlikely success.
I remember becoming so committed to it; so immersed that I eventually resorted to setting alarms, just beforehand; checking my phone between classes, sneaking glances at the clock, and counting the minutes as I near-missed you every day. I remember relishing it, how the victory was only better with each failure; the disproportionate burst of utter delight, shocking me every time we managed to catch each other in those short 60 seconds.
I remember, too, when we’d missed each other, so many times in a row.
Enough that it had slowed down.
My screen shined up, taunting me, and I began to wonder if it was worth it, if I was annoying you, if it mattered anymore.
I remember leaving.
No phone, nothing.
And of course, we’d lamented, having missed our last chance before I was gone.
(And I’d cursed myself then, too, for another waste of 60 seconds. A single slot of time, where I’d stared at the screen and done nothing. Another instance of hesitating, of doubting, instead of just doing it.)
I remember the weight of disappointment.
But most of all…
Most of all.
I remember coming back.
My phone was a foreign object, awkward and daunting in my newly clumsy fingers, and I remember reeling as I was assaulted, utterly unprepared, with two-weeks worth of notifications.
I saved yours for last.
29 messages. All sent the same time, day after day. Logged like it was normal, routine, conversational, even.
“11:11, day one.”
“11:11, day two.”
And so on.
And I remember the sensation of my stomach flipping, yanking on my heart for purchase as it clambered, shaking, up my throat and into my empty brain.
At least, that’s what I think happened, anyway. Because I could barely think at all. Utterly scrambled, insides contorted and crashing and burning all over each other.
The most I could do was sit in bed and clutch my phone tight, flustered and warm as I thought about…being thought about.
At least once each day.
I remember you last.
In wisps of tattered memory and old tradition, when my heart has run its course and come back around, it’s you who finds it right before the finish line.
I remember you.
I remember learning how to be a person. And I remember you being there, too. Not quiet connected events, but all the same;
in the strangeness of a chaotic, half focused room, riddled with unfinished projects and overthought semantics, half-constructed games and continuously workshopped humor…
proximity was everything. We weren’t even close friends; we didn’t need to be. 15 kids packed into a room, where everybody knew everybody anyway?
Cliques were non-existent.
You were there.
Working together and apart on projects, we were taught the same strange, half-remembered code of honor, and of courtesy; and when all manners were cast aside, we allied together or apart in the same vicious, petty playground wars and micro-societal spats.
Every. single. year.
You were there.
I remember you. I remember your voice, and how it changed. I remember your thick goggle glasses, and the day you switched them in for contacts. I remember your favorite colors, your strange antics; how you would run scissors through your hair, fluffing it up without actually cutting it; and being so bemused, but with no real reason to stop you.
I remember losing contact, briefly, and thinking I’d lost the last person who I could reminisce with, about those strange three years.
And when we met again?
I remember that same familiar warmth.
2 a.m cupcakes, in the chilly early-morning of spring…pressed against your pink hoodie in an impulsive embrace. And summer; beaming up at you through the glint of your camera lense, as we captured yet another moment in time.
Sighing into the same breeze that floated gulls up into the sky above you.
And every day
I’m less afraid
I love you.