A Collective Memoir

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I’ve never been so open as to let my heart love or break as I was with him. People always say you’ll know real love when you find it, but sometimes you don’t know it til you’ve lost it. We were young and in love, we wanted to see the world and experience adventure, we wanted to see all the beauty of it.

The first time I saw him I could never forget. The way he smiled, the way he talked. I loved his eyes and even the way that he walked. I said one thing, he said another, but that didn't stop me from needing or wanting to be with him.

Our first date was a movie I know I saw but can't recall, we both stared at the TV without actually watching it. I forgot everything, except the butterflies in my stomach. My brain couldn't process another thing after he started holding my hand. I had never believed the million voices telling me I was beautiful until he whispered it in my ear that night. He fell asleep before the movie ended, and I whispered, “I think I'm in love with you," quietly into his skin. I meant it.

A few days later we stood together, in silence and awe, while a million stars shimmered in the moonlit sea at Pegwell Bay; just like they did on that very first day we met when the night sky blossomed with starlight and wonder. He asked me to be his girlfriend, and I said, "Yes!"

Then came the night on the Ferris wheel when he whispered, "I love you;" I was still floating on air even after the ride ended. It knocked the wind out of me. It's the memory I go to when I feel I don't know where happy is anymore. It’s one of those memories that I've watched so many times in my mind that it has warped it. I watch as if it were an old film projected on a dirty wall, I feel myself watching the scene as it plays out; my face turns to a smile I haven't felt since back then. It hurts. When I look back on this I wish I could tell myself to stay right there, don't leave this moment any sooner than you have to. Be in no rush to leave this place, because once it's gone there is no returning. This feeling is fleeting.

My truth - I was in love. It was more than love. It was, no secrets, say what you mean - mean what you say. I think that maybe in another time it would have gone a different way. That's the beauty of memories like these. No matter what comes after them, they are still there, and I remember them through the eyes of my innocence. I have watched this one so many times though I know I've changed it, and I know our relationship wasn't always this glowing beckon of joy I have made it out to be. But, no matter how I may have distorted this memory over the years, it will always bring me solace. Looking back upon it makes me long for the times when all I wanted was to escape with him. At that moment, I am lost in the simplicity that was. I am lost in what our love once was and what I had hoped it could have been. He is my unconditioned stimulus.

The day he said "I don't feel we're right," I felt as if the salts of all the universes oceans resided there beneath my tongue, brittle and parched sort of like a fish out of water. I could breathe, but it wouldn't have helped, my lunges shared feeling with that of despair and solitary, I had lost my oxygen. I no longer swam in an ocean of familiar creatures; I was a stranger; a stranger to the air that I once depended on, and to the love I sought.

That day his words broke through the depths of my mind, the depths for which I hid the things I didn't like about myself, and there once again I found myself.. unstable. I lie in his arms enveloped in the dark of the night. Contentment was slowly moving down my spine causing all the butterflies to take flight. His breath gently tickled my ear like a whisper of words I never wanted hear. I inhaled deeply, holding it in, the scent of his skin smells like the woods, passion, and sin. His fingertips softly moved, like hot coals, burning my skin. I closed my eyes, memorizing this moment, willing it to last forever. It's here that I find my heart, my foolish heart, breaking with every beat of his against my back. It's here, that I know he is not mine. I lay there, agonizingly still, crumbled.

Thoughts overwhelmed me of how he used to look at me like I was the only person in the world, but I must stop them. I pulled the covers over my head, not ready to face this because I didn't want it to be true. I took deep breaths to stop the tears that were threatening to spill onto my cheeks. I looked up at him, my stomach in knots. Neither one of us said a word. What was there to say really? I silently got out of bed and dressed as he sat there watching. I wanted to cling to him and sob until I had nothing left but I couldn't look at him; I'm too weak. He doesn't say anything.

I needed to leave. I couldn't think, I couldn't breathe, I couldn't move. For a second my world was spinning around me. A soft rain started. Tears rolled down my face, and I brushed them away with the back of my hand.

He pulled back to open my door then stood there and watched as I got in. I climbed onto the front passenger seat, and he took his rightful place behind the wheel. We embarked on an hour-long drive to the airport where a plane was waiting to take me. I played the same album on repeat while we drove in the darkness. We missed the lane for the departure gates, but he swung around to right the course.

As a kid, I loved airplanes. I loved riding in them, watching them take-off, and listening to them fly overhead in the summertime. This plane ride ruined everything. I shed another tear, and wiped it off as I walked onto the aircraft. After boarding, a thunderstorm began to pass over. Two hours went by on the tarmac before the pilots announced we were clear for take-off. Ten minutes in the air, I saw a lightning bolt outside my window. I knew this was the end. I sat there remembering the look on his face as he had hugged me tight and told me he loved me one last time.

I moved to California with nothing but my backpack, $200 and a heart full of sadness and hope. The ocean, she called to me. Without her, my skin becomes dry, my breath shallows, and my steps hasten with anxiety. The ocean surrounds my existence with her love, and I feel I am home. But, every day, I still recite these lines "I hope at last you've found what you've been searching for and though I'm not there anymore, I will always love you..." 

Created: May 24, 2017


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