I’ve never really understood why people say to find someone who gives you butterflies. Butterflies are such vulnerable little things. Those wings of thin tissue and scales like fine dust, I’m not sure I’d want a person I adore to give me such delicate insects.
I don’t want a love that makes me feel like I might come apart with the slightest touch. But I guess we don’t always get a choice in such matters, now do we?
I remember the first time you touched me. It was my knee. We sat side-by-side in a darkened theater as a band played bluegrass. You whispered something in my ear and put your hand on me. It was only a second, a brief skin-to-skin to remind me what I had been missing for so long.
But it was enough to be sure. I was sure of it. I was sure of you. I was sure of me.
I scared my mother by almost crashing the car driving home because I was so busy floating outside my body, thinking about the way you just lingered there. Even if only a tiny bit. You were there with me. And I was there with you.
Three years later, I kissed your mouth and said we would be together again one day. You didn’t believe me, but I promised you it would be true. Because you never gave me butterflies, something that can be torn apart with such ease. You gave me earthquakes. You gave me life-altering shaking, something terrifyingly strong that I knew would end up in textbooks for years to come. You were the night I had prepared for my whole life. You were the book I will read to my children, my grandchildren, even though now it seems they will only get genes from me.
Not you. Not us. The way we promised one another.
But the thing is, adolescent fantasies turn into grown-up fantasies. And we kept trying. You would call and I’d say, “Not yet. We are too far apart. I can’t do this. You can’t do this to me.” And so it would go.
You, the thing that split me down the middle.
You, the first time I believed in something lasting without being storybook bullshit.
You, the beautiful pictures they will study years to come. How he could have been so much to a girl so young. How he could have been a force so powerful that she has yet to feel anything quite as strong since.
The last time we said goodbye, we stood on my college campus and you asked if I would kiss you. I said no because we weren’t in that place anymore. We couldn’t be in that place. I’d moved forward, or told myself I had.
But if I could, I would take it back. I would throw rationality out the window and I’d say yes.
I would have kissed you. I would have let these tender butterflies fly free. I didn’t know it would be too late one day. I just didn’t know.