When you wake up, look at the calendar, and see today is the date that marks a year since you last saw him, you will not need to wonder if he thought of you, the monochrome of mourning coloring his memory. You will remember the feel of his suit jacket against your fingertips, but you will not need to consult a mind-reader to know that he does not remember the color of the dress you wore and the way your cheeks flushed in his presence. You are haunted by words he uttered years ago, even though he is not aware that you remember them. He does not remember them, either.
You feel pain, but at the same time, you are beyond it. You know better than to resist what is; you know what has happened before when you did not accept the inevitable. You know better than to dress up sorrow in your clothes and give it your name. You try not to give into self-pity or hopelessness, but sometimes you cannot help but think, “Is this all there is?”
You surround yourself with people who care for, love and remember you. You find a man who will remember you enjoy the taste of Sriracha hot sauce while he is at the grocery store, and he will buy Sriracha-flavored potato chips for you. You will kiss him and forget it, and a week later, he will remind you that he laughed, mid-kiss, because he was surprised that you kissed him. He will be slightly offended when you say you forgot that, and you will realize you did the very thing that made you sad and still makes you sad. You will think that maybe you should not kiss anyone unless you really mean it. But who knows when you will mean it? You still love someone who does not remember you, and you cannot force yourself to stop.
You go back to this man, the one who remembers you because he offers himself freely to you. You do the very things to him that once hurt you, sometimes realizing, sometimes not, but he is not as bothered by it as you are. He feels deeply too, but it is not the same. You hold him while he listens to a song that makes him sad, but you cannot admit to him that you are sad too, so you drink another beer, and another until everything is hilarious. You cannot tell him because then he would take it upon himself to somehow stop your sadness. You can hold him without the need for it to change anything because you know how deeply some sadness runs. If you tell him, he will think you want him to change it. He will think he is supposed to take away your drink. You do not ask people to lift five-hundred-pound boulders – you do not even think to ask it because you know it is impossible.
You begin to fall in love with someone else. You write her a poem. You write two poems. You give one to her and send the other to a literary magazine. It gets rejected shortly before she finds a way to tell you that she is not as interested in you as you are her. It breaks you, but not as bad as the first one did, for she caught your love in time before its vines grew all the way around your head and ribcage. It is liberating, in a way. Sadness is replaced with emptiness.
After enough kisses that mean nothing to you, you become grateful for the cool space in bed beside you. You look around your empty apartment and see freedom. Your poems remain inside you, unsung, and they turn to wanderlust. You are moved across country borders, and each time you look at a sunset from a different place or feel the spray of a waterfall against your skin, you send love to the ones you wanted to hold but could not.
You do not realize it right away, but the world becomes a better place for it.