He had a lot of scars,
I remember that distinctly. He was reckless with his body, his words, his belongings; utterly careless- with almost everything, but me. Yes, I remember him being very careful with me. (And isn’t that really what all of us secretly wants- to be somebody’s exception?) I remember him as the smoker, the drinker, the artist, the rebel, the free spirit, the masochist, yet pleasure seeker, the last boy on earth I would have thought would be my first boyfriend. I remember feeling pretty, for the first time ever, when he noticed me in Sunday school and introduced himself, and feeling cute instead of clumsy as I tripped over the syllables of my own name and found reassurance in his playful smirk. I remember him calling me his muse; how he’d write about me, to me, for me, on me, any preposition + me; catalyzing my insatiable thirst for the most perfect words to depict even the least perfect things- which persists as strongly as ever to this day (self evident in this very text). I remember him drawing portraits and taking photographs of me, dozens, hundreds, and never being satisfied with any of them- “You’re too much to replicate, even imitate. It makes me blissfully frustrated.” I remember being surprised at how graceful his calloused fingers looked as they plucked his guitar strings, and how his eyes looked curious yet knowing as he sung lyrics he conjured on the spot, and subsequently dedicated to me. I guess that’s kind of what we were, an impromptu, improv melody that just happened to turn out beautiful. I remember my mom hating him. I remember sharing a diary with him, switching off whenever I got the rare chance to see him, and how sacred this secret-keeping, inside-joking, thought-purging, feeling-sharing bind of pages felt to us. Looking back, I used it as a journal, to vent and talk about my day, complain about my struggles. He used it as a never-ending love letter, with each blank page a renewed chance to make me smile and laugh. The doodles, the confessions, the wispiest of wispy feelings made tangible through pen on paper, seemed to preserve what we shared as immortal (and oh, how foolish that word sounds now, when things have obviously died and been dead). I remember him as the epitome of a California teenage dream, donning aviator shades while skating down Huntington Beach pier, sneaking behind our parents’ backs, learning in the sweetest ways what it means to be someone’s something. I remember experiencing with him a love that was playful- but not childish, amateur- but not immature. And I remember.. forgetting. I remember my feelings fading. Waking up from this dream, snapping out of the trance. “After the romance, the real life comes in. Innocence gets dirty, passion gets cold, and youth gets old with cleverness.” I’d been an eager first-time smoker; I packed him tightly in a bowl, puffed hard, and then… the high wore off. I remember him walking away from me, the last time I ever saw him, on the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Beach Blvd., becoming more and more iridescent with each step as he dissolved into my foggy memory. I don’t remember much. But I remember how he loved me. I loved how he loved me. But I did not love him.
He was always there,
I remember that fondly. As I was left to cope with the unsettling feelings of a come-down, my hands frantically searching for anything solid to hold onto, I found the most substantial of substance in him. The Mania I previously shared was nice- but fleeting. And here, he offered me Storge, Pragma, Agape- the kind of love I needed at a time when the rest of my life was chaotic and unstable. I remember every bit of our 5 years of friendship before the 2 years of “more”. I think that’s what drew me to (and ironically, later, away from) him the most- the familiarity and comfort, the fact that I never had to introduce, explain, or even defend myself in any way; he had known me at every point of my adolescence to early adulthood, and I- him at his. I remember 8th grade group projects and filming silly videos in his backyard, memories I cherish just as much as I do our senior year prom together. I remember thinking how lucky I was to have someone who knew all my faults and still chose to fall, not because he happened to be the Golden Boy, the star of the school. That fact, if anything, made me feel unlucky (but that’s another story). I remember Mondays “Heroes” nights and our mornings at Starbucks before school (venti mocha / grande soy caramel macchiato). I remember cheering him on at swim meets and him cheering me on at cross-country meets, and the joking land vs. water rivalry. I remember him being my partner for everything from our friends’ debuts to school plays and musicals, an implied, understood, default pairing. I remember feeling as if for several years our lives had been two opposite sides of a zipper, obliviously flopping around before our relationship had braided them neatly together. (But maybe that wasn’t such a good thing- maybe I needed more room to breathe, perhaps a button-up style relationship would have better suited me? Our separate identities preserved, with a few tangents that kept it all together?) Regardless, I remember embracing the way our two worlds, our two circles of the Venn diagram created a solid sphere. Because that was what I needed (or, what I thought I needed,) at the time. I remember feeling blessed that his picture-perfect family took me in as their own- his mother treating me like the daughter she never had, and my mother treating him like the son she always wanted. I remember taking his little brother and his girlfriend out on double dates with us. I remember being comfortable enough to walk into his house and open the fridge as I wished. I remember my contacts feeling dry as I drove sleepily back to my house at 3 am almost every night, and the security guard’s ritual salute to me on the way out of his gated community. I remember him as the most grounded and faithful person I had ever met, since I first met him at age 12. Looking up to him as a friend, a teacher, a supporter, a disgustingly talented and stubbornly ambitious individual who refused to leave me behind. I remember him wanting to take me to Europe. I remember him taking me to Europe. Everything from almost missing our flight and losing our baggage, to the hotel rooms that no two 18 year olds should have had the luxury of experiencing. I remember London, each of the 6 shows we watched. I remember Paris, and how the color of the sky each night (which I now realize is a result of air pollution) was more beautiful than the glittering Tour Eiffel itself. I remember that last summer of our high school chapter closing, and feeling the impending doom of things changing. Correction- of myself changing (had I predicted it?) I remember feeling so accustomed to his presence and all the perks it brought with it, that when the time came to part, was surprised to find.. there was no actual love, on my part. Only dependence. Only desperation. Only the despicable truth that I’d loved everything about a person, except the actual person. It guilts and pains me to remember. So I don’t remember much. But I remember how he loved me. I loved how he loved me. But I did not love him.
I remember nothing about you, for you do not live in my memories. Your presence is present, you are currently floating along the current of ocean waves, waves of my hand, waves in my hair, in the brainwaves that sine and cosine through my mind without end, in the most complicated and frustrating equation. Every bit of our history still feels salient, a bit too raw and real, and even to my own surprise, shows no sign of fading. If anything, with your absence it becomes more piercing, more obvious, more demanding of attention, more tragically perfect as I dissect the who, what, when, where whys of our past. The only question I still cannot answer is “How.” How could you do this to me? How could this have happened to us? And how… we’re still here. How, still, it all comes down to you- all of you, always you. To me, you are not a “him.” You are “you.” I don’t remember you. I know you. I feel you. I love you. I love you. But I hate. How you loved me.