As the lights came on and I looked through the crowd, I saw you standing there with that silly smile on your face. After a night out on the town, I believed you to be an illusion, an image from the confines of my memory projected onto some random stranger that looked just like you. But as I blinked and straightened out my thoughts, you remained, with the smile that you wore on the day that you left. You see, they say that time is the best remedy to all wounds, whether it’s something physical like a cut from a harmless piece of paper or a deeper, emotional wound caused by a catalyst of events that leave a vacant room in our hearts. Needless to say, on the ride home that night, I continued to think of you. I saw you hopping along streetlamps like a ballerina floating along to a familiar tune on stage. At the diner, I saw you seated across from me, ordering strawberry waffles because those were your favorites and if a menu had it, you could never say no. I saw you tucking me in before I drifted off to sleep and entered a world where the line of reality and fiction became thin and barely noticeable. But I did not see you when I awoke the next morning, much to my dismay. I searched through the house, just to find a trace of you that wasn’t in the form of photographs or a box neatly placed at the foot of my bed. Maybe one day, someone will create a device that will allow the general public to relive memories over and over and over again. Maybe one day, someone will create a serum or a procedure that will allow people like me to completely erase certain memories that they are unable to forget. Perhaps one day, I will see you again, in the flesh, standing right in front of me with that silly, warm smile on your face.
When we first met, you were studying with a group of friends (or classmates) at a corner table inside of the local Starbucks. You were laughing then, a loud and obnoxious laugh, but a laugh that I slowly became used to as time went by. In the beginning, our eyes gravitated towards each other, sometimes staring for a second too long, before one of us suddenly broke eye contact. It was a game of push and pull, but an enjoyable game nonetheless. Then by some chance our orders got mixed up and just as sudden as an afternoon shower, we became friends. In a matter of months, we both filled the empty spaces that had accumulated over the years, an emptiness that always begged for more but was never satisfied with what was given. But we were enough for each other. We became the sad, acoustic love songs that we wanted to hear after a break up. We became the relaxtion of a ten day vacation after months of a grueling school year. We became the refreshing glass of cold water in the middle of a summer day. At least that’s what you felt like to me. Isn’t it strange how much space just one person can occupy in your heart? Isn’t it strange that even though two people are nothing close to lovers, they can be soulmates that trascend the tests of time? Isn’t it strange that somehow we managed to fall apart, although the red string of fate was bound so tightly around us? I know that this is coming out nowhere and maybe you still don’t want to hear from me yet, or even at all. But I hope that one day you meet your soulmate at the corner table of your local Starbucks. I hope that they’ll take your hand and promise you as close to forever as possible. I hope they keep their promise.
I hope they are nothing like me,
One night you told me that you wanted to be in the company of the best. In seconds, I phoned a handful of our closest friends and within the hour, we created a dance floor out of the mall parking lot. On some lazy weekend afternoon, you mentioned that you wanted to be alone, so I brought out the last of the cookies and cream and with it, the password to my Netflix account scribbled on a torn piece of paper. A few hours later, as I drank the last of my coffee at the Starbucks down the road, I received a phone call from you, asking me to come home. We had many moments like these, many moments that I am only able to relive through my memories. But even now, I am starting to forget what it was like to be with you. To be with someone that I considered a best friend, a family member, someone who I thought would be with me for the rest of the days of my life. Sadly, our red string of fate was cut short and like two leaves falling into a stream, we were swept away by life’s current and ended up separated from each other, washed up on opposite shores. At this point, you should only be a memory, a chapter in my life that should have been closed long ago. However, if truth be told, I think of you every now and then. You slip into my prayers as I wash up for the night and your face appears onto the shoulders of strangers that I pass by on the street. I will not lie: I miss you, terribly and without reason. I miss you. I’m unable to physically say this, so I write it in a letter, I write it in a poem that is unable to see the light of day, I write it into the characters of a short story that remains fictitious and resides in a realm, a thousand or more leagues away from reality.
I write about you and all of the things that I am still unable to say,
You always saw the best in me, that I was trying to be the best version of myself in that moment. You believed that I continued with that same effort even after you went away for school. But when you came back after those four years, the look in your face and the silence in our conversation revealed everything all at once. We changed. In very big and extremely small ways, we changed into two different human beings, with some aspects now a mystery to each other. But it was no mystery that I was broken and torn, far from the best version of myself that you envisioned. I remember that it took you a few moments to compose yourself, to organize the words that you wanted to say, the words of encouragement that I readied myself to accept with a halfhearted smile and forget shortly afterwards. But instead of saying anything, instead of doing what I expected, instead doing something that is so you, you said nothing at all and hugged me. And for a second time, everything was revealed. We changed in many different ways, but our friendship remained the same. By saying nothing, it was a reminder that I could come to you, that I could confide in you when I felt like I was falling out of place. In that moment, I could do nothing more than cry. I never got to properly thank you for that. So I just want to say, thank you.
You saved my life and I thought you should know,
Relationships are beautiful, but not all of them last forever. Sometimes they end in a fiery crash, leaving the two people involved injured and hurt beyond repair. They can end with a warm goodbye, a mutual understanding that the relationship is now over and that it’s better to go their separate ways. And sometimes, they can end with silence, a silence that’s deafening and suffocating and surrounds you on all sides.
And maybe that’s the hardest way to say goodbye. At least to me. No matter how many questions you may ask to your pillowcase as you bury your head into it at night, no answers come out or are revealed. Then you’re left with your imagination and sometimes that can be far worse than the truth. You see faults in yourself, faults in the relationship, faults in the other person. Everything becomes an arrow towards the end and you begin to contemplate whether you were ever enough. You begin to wonder what sequence of events could have occurred to have caused everything to go wrong. In your eyes, everything was perfect, but the ending proved that was far from it.
When it ends in silence, you’re left with a mountain of words and feelings that weighs down your heart. You wonder how you can express your thoughts in a way that someone will understand, but in the end, the words fade away into the darkness, never allowed to see the light of day. Sometimes those thoughts end up on a social media platform for the whole world to see. Sometimes it ends up on the wall of your favorite cafe, in hopes that they will see it and leave something behind, even if it’s simply “I’m sorry”. That alone would be enough. All you need is a conversation, a dialogue to get everything off your chest and to receive the closure that you so desperately desire. But all that remains are the words left unsaid.
It took me a while to understand why you felt the way you did. When you first came out to me, I took the route that most people mistakenly walk. I made the deadly statement that your life was a blessing in itself, that other people had it worse. That was my first mistake, the first sign that I did not truly understand at all. As the days crept on, you began to feel tense around me and I could feel it too. We began to tiptoe around each other, carefully constructing our sentences and answers for potential conversations that had yet to occur. However, we felt that it was necessary in order to maintain our friendship. Shared secrets became scarce, the way we looked at each other now tainted, our entire world shattered into pieces due to my insensitivity. Then when you confessed that you still harbored those feelings a second time, that’s when I took a step back. I tried to look at you as if nothing was wrong, but the sadness that was contained inside of your chest still existed. That much I knew. And because it didn’t disappear the first time, I was afraid that it would not disappear a second. The distance between us grew and I wondered if this was the right approach. I know now that it was not. But I took step after step after step back, until I couldn’t hear your shouts for help. For so many years, I couldn’t hear your voice and in the end, I thought I lost you. And that fear almost became a reality. Thankfully, someone heard your shouts of agony, your cries of despair. Thankfully, you are now so close to the word fine that it is almost tattooed onto your skin. Thankfully, you are alive. And that is something that I hope I can imitate.
Like you, I wish to remain alive,
Twenty-five different things that I have learned over these twenty-five years, in no particular order.
- Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
- People leave. And sometimes you can’t do anything about that.
- It is never good to soak in your own sadness.
- There is a difference between being alone and feeling lonely. And both can be easily avoided. Sometimes.
- Don’t let anyone make you believe that what you feel is invalid.
- Admitting that you have a problem doesn’t always lead to a solution. But it can help.
- Give it your all. Don’t be lukewarm.
- Falling in love is never easy. But you shouldn’t let one heartbreak stop you from loving again.
- Be comfortable with making mistakes. You can only learn more and grow from them.
- Building walls doesn’t mean that you’ll be protected. Sometimes the person you need protecting from is yourself.
- You need to decide what’s important to you.
- Somewhere in this world, someone is rooting for you.
- You make more of an impact than you tend to believe.
- Don’t lose sight of what you’re passionate about.
- Strive to be different. Strive to become the best version of you that has ever graced this planet.
- It’s okay to be sad.
- Reach out to people. They will listen.
- Be careful with what you say and do, before it becomes lost in translation.
- Love deeply and love fervently. Someone will thank you for that.
- Don’t give up on people.
- Don’t give up on yourself.
- Consistency is important.
- Late is better than never. Or so I hope.
- Everyone is born good.
- This is not the end.