Well, that’s not entirely true. I know that part of me is still in Barcelona, where I touched another body and my parents couldn’t say anything about it. It was the first time I felt like I was a real person who had a future that she could decide for herself, and it was too important not to take a little something with it when I left. I made a lot of mistakes that summer, but they were all my own. And that is the only other time I really remember feeling the same way I do when I am around you.
It’s that feeling of weightlessness, that feeling that anything is possible. I know that you are bad for me in the way bad food or excessive alcohol is, and yet, every time you call me, there is something about you which draws me to lie down next to you. When I was 19 in Barcelona, I was following a kind of magic that was everywhere, on every street. It’s the intoxication of the new, the unknown, the promise. It was the kind of moment where just being alive gets you so painfully high you feel dizzy when you stand up. When I’m with you, I can smell the restaurants with their doors wide open and see the people spilled out all over the terrace with glasses of white wine in their hands.
You kissed me outside my door and I was 19 again. Weeks later, when you forgot to come pick me up for the birthday party we were supposed to go to together, you told me that you didn’t realize we were “a thing.” I heard that you had been fucking another girl — a Spanish girl, because the irony of the universe is nothing if not consistent — and you thought I was getting “clingy.” You wanted to remind me that, whatever I thought we had, there was significantly less of it than I was inclined to believe. It felt like someone had taken the roof from over my head when it was raining, that I was out in the cold again after so long pretending that I had somewhere to go back to.
But I still came when you called. I came to your house, then I came on top of you, afraid of what my body looked like in such bright light and such complete nudity. You used to insist that I be completely naked, that I not bring up a blanket to cover my chest and stomach. I would lay down in the crook of your arm and feel like I was finally somewhere that wanted to have me. I never felt more beautiful, more desired, more comfortable in my environment. You said, “You are such a beautiful girl. I don’t know why you ever question yourself.” The truth was, I didn’t question myself when I was with you. Yours were the only compliments that mattered, the only things I really wanted to hear.
You got another girlfriend, one that you were serious about. One you took around to meet your parents, one you made a home for in your body just as you did with me, but one that existed outside of the confines of the bedroom. It was like hearing that someone had moved into my apartment while I was at work and claimed it as their own, that I was in a nightmare that no one else seemed to realize was strange at all. She was beautiful, which should not have been as surprising as it was.
I told you about my summer in Barcelona one time. I told you about the restaurants, my friends, the apartment I slept in more often than I did my own because all of my friends were there and they had much better ventilation. I told you how it felt, how it was home in a way that not many other things have been since. You laughed and said, “You fucked some Spanish dude and ate a lot of shellfish? Sounds like a trip,” as you put on your jeans. “Come on,” you told me, “I gotta get going.”