Do you remember our first meeting? Do you remember every minute detail of the seats we sat in? Do you remember the scuff marks on the beer-soaked table? Do you remember how the napkins stuck ever so slightly to the sticky residue left behind from years of spilled drinks?
Do you? Because I do.
I remember how we sat for so long in silence that I thought for sure you’d never want to see me again. I remember the burning stench of the disinfectant that had bathed the table over and over again, wiping away awkward first dates and glorious first dates, drunken tears and happy tears, and eventually us — it would wipe away us. That day would be just another wiped away memory come the next day. For the table at least.
I remember being so nervous I was sure my heart would stop. Oh, what an awkward first date that would be. Sitting by my bedside, would you tell my family? Would you leave me? I wouldn’t expect you to stay, but I’m fairly certain you would have.
I remember the fleeting eye contact made from under my mascara-coated lashes. I remember the smell of your aftershave — it came in waves every time you moved. Senses are heightened when you’re nervous. Did you ever notice?
I remember how we chose somewhere quiet so there was little chance of being seen by people we knew. Why did we care so much? The pub went from quiet and cosy to loud and rowdy almost instantly, only it wasn’t instantly — we had been sat for hours. We had spoken about everything and nothing. We had learned both so much and so little about each other in those hours.
Do you remember the anticipation before we finally met? Of course we had met before, friends for all that time, until something shifted. I’m still not quite sure what it was, but it was catastrophic, to say the least. There was the back and forth with messages and phone calls — by the fountains, we said. And that’s where I waited. In the rain, in the cold. I waited by the fountains. I would have waited through a blizzard for you. Silly me.
Do you remember when we first spoke those three words that would change our world? These things should become futile, I suspect, the older we get. Maybe one day I’ll look back and the clear images will be gone, and it will be the equivalent of trying to focus on a distant image through frosted glass. Hopeless and straining.
There are so many things I have to thank you for, but I’m afraid I don’t have time. I will thank you for this, though: I will thank you for the time you took away from me, for shifting a pain so unbearable, chances are I would not have made it. I thank you for taking that load off of my friends and family, for carrying a burden you had no idea you were carrying. I will thank you for being exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it. So thank you. However, with all those thank you’s come the fuck you’s.
Fuck you for breaking me so much that I could barely walk, for months I felt immobilized, trapped inside my own head, clawing at walls to escape when there was no escape.
Fuck you for making me feel so small a slight breeze could have carried me away, and there were plenty of times I wished it would. There were plenty of times I wished I could have fallen off the face of the earth and there be no consequences, but there are always consequences.
Fuck you for not only breaking me, but taking so much of me with you that I thought I would never be complete again.
Fuck you for making it impossible for me to listen to music and to laugh, truly laugh, for so long.
Fuck you for making the people I love most in the world worry so much they felt they had to babysit me.
Fuck you for not only breaking my heart, but my best friend’s, for making her watch me slowly fade away when there was nothing she could do to help.
Fuck you for convincing me that I was crazy, and for the oceans I cried because I knew the truth.
So yeah, I thank you, but also, fuck you.