The Man Before You

Unsplash / Mahkeo

The man before you used to play music. He lost himself in sound. We’d find empty rooms inside of busy buildings and curl up in a corner, sitting close, the guitar sitting in his lap. He always held it clumsily because he wasn’t used to the way it felt in his hands yet, but when he strummed the chords, he sounded alright. He always let me do the singing. He didn’t like his voice, the ordinariness to it, but he liked to listen to mine as it climbed the notes. He always smiled softly, closed his eyes. I think I fell in love with those moments before I fell in love with him.

The man before you had electric eyes and an open face and hands so smooth and pretty I was almost sure he’d never worked a day in his life. He didn’t have to. He grew up in a big, lavish house in the mountains with a view over the valley that he always sent me pictures of when he visited. Photos of sunsets, of snowfall, of rain so heavy the whole sky turned black. They all made him think of me. I returned his messages with pictures of the narrow parking lot outside my window. It always made my life feel so much smaller in comparison.

The man before you was smart in abstract ways. He would have driven you crazy. He taught me about Nietzsche and music theory and how to properly store earbuds. He strongly believed they were little pieces of information I needed to understand. I taught him about psychology and current events and Kanye West. Those were all important to me. During these lessons, he always watched the way I spoke with a faint smile on his lips. He was the first person to ever tell me that when I talk about things I’m passionate about, I light up the room. You were the second.

The man before you had a knack of saying the right thing at the wrong time. He always asked me to leave when I wanted to stay and convinced me to stay when I just wanted to leave. Our timing was impeccable. I always thought that if he would’ve switched it up, we would have been happier. Instead I spent years toeing a line I was never even sure was there. Even when things seemed perfect, one of us was always holding our breath. Usually, it was me.

The man before you broke my heart, but you already knew about that.

The man before you still crosses my mind now and then. I can tell it bothers you. You don’t understand how I can think back to someone who hurt me so deeply and remember them fondly. I don’t know how to explain that I am grateful to him, for all those little moments, good and bad. He taught me all the beautiful things about love, then left so I could find it with you. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Callie is a writer, editor, and publisher at Thought Catalog. Her debut book, ‘The Words We Left Behind,’ is available for pre-order before its January 9, 2024 release.

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