1. Don’t think of him.
2. Don’t think of his soft spirals of night-sky curls, of the shavings of amber glistening in his eyes, of his sensually full lower lip that always held the right words.
3. Don’t think of the parts of him that you were the first to know: the tremble in his mouth before saying ‘I love you’, the mismatched beats of his heart before a kiss, the cold palms on the curve of your hip. Don’t think of his toes sliding your socks off your feet. Forget the places where you kissed: under trees, on park benches, the backseat of your best friend’s Mustang.
4. Burn his pictures, his letters. Leave old yearbooks at your parents’ house so that you don’t have to see the scrawl of his signature on the inside cover.
5. Block him. Block him from your Facebook, from Twitter, from your thoughts.
6. Block his family.
7. Don’t confess to the nights you spend lying awake missing his voice, of the nights you fall restlessly out of bed, of the countless times you’ve dialed his number and hung up, of the videos stored on your hard drive that you pull up once in a while just to remember how he looked at you with so much love that you could have died right then and there.
8. Don’t tell anyone that you wanted to, after he left.
9. Don’t be weak. Your friends will only bring you ice cream and binge watch Grey’s Anatomy for so long before they tell you to move on. When they do, say that you’re totally over it.
10. Pretend to be over it.
11. Acknowledge your youth. Acknowledge your naivety. Tell yourself it meant nothing, that it was a mistake, that you couldn’t have known what love really is. Not the first time around.
12. Fall in love again. Force yourself to fall in love again. Erase the memory of his body from yours.
13. Tell yourself it meant nothing.
14. There will be girls (and maybe boys) after you who will hear secrets in his laugh that you never discovered, girls (and maybe boys) who will make new memories of him, girls (and maybe boys) who will look even more photogenic in pictures with him.
15. Tell yourself you’re better than them. That you loved him better. That no one will ever measure up to you.
16. Ignore the part of you that worries no one will ever match up to him.
17. Get drunk when he starts seeing someone else. Stalk her profile pictures. Secretly admit to yourself that you have nicer hair.
18. Date with a vengeance. Fall in love again. Force yourself to fall in love again. Erase the memory of his body from yours.
19. Tell everyone you’re happy.
20. Finish school. Get a great job. Travel. Make new friends. Be successful. Make your life a testament to not needing him.
21. Fall in love. For real, this time.
22. Forget that he was ever anything more than a story.