This is what’s going to happen the day after he leaves you heartbroken in the parking lot that was once home to all your favorite moments. You’re going to wake up with last night’s makeup stained on your white pillowcase and reach over to his side of the bed out of habit because, for approximately three seconds, you’ll forget that he’s gone. You’re going to curse the sun for her audacity to still rise when your world went dark only 12 hours ago. You’re going to draw your blackout curtains tightly and you’re going to tuck yourself back in bed, your heartbreak playlist humming through your headphones.
You are going to lay in fetal position and feel the palpable weight of his absence. You are going to clutch your chest in between guttural sobs and check your pulse to make sure your heart’s still beating. You’re going to get up and rummage through your closet when you remember the pile of his hoodies folded in the back. You’re going to climb into your favorite one while you scroll through your phone, looking at all your missed calls and texts. None of them matter. None of them is him.
You’re going to jump out of bed and rip his hoodie off because his scent is lingering in the air and you’re going to convince yourself that you can’t breath. Because you can’t. Not without him. You’re going to run outside and gasp for air.
You’re going to run back to that parking lot—back to that very spot and flashback to where he first told you he loved you and then where he told you he was leaving. Back to the spot where he told you it was over. You’re going to trace your steps from the night before—trace your steps from all the times you walked the same black pavement. You’re going to try to find signs in the cracks. Signs in the spaces between parked cars. Signs in all the quiet, intimate moments in that parking lot. Signs that you would have seen this coming.
Maybe I was so desperate to know love again that I made a home out of your heart before I noticed the flickering No Vacancy sign outside your window. Maybe because when I was 19, I fell in love with a green-eyed boy who mistook my kindness for weakness. Who kissed me a little too hard. Who never asked for permission. Who laughed when I told him no. Who never cared if I was okay. Who never cared at all. Maybe it was because when we sat in front of an ice cream shop that July night and I told you about him, you listened. Maybe because you dared to hear me in a way no one ever had before. Maybe because you made me feel like I deserved better. Maybe I believed you. And maybe that was my mistake.
Maybe there’s nothing beautiful here. Maybe there never was.
Maybe I kept my face so far towards the sun that I was blinded to all the destruction around me. But we were a love story, weren’t we? Midnight walks arm in arm, conversations in the middle of a crowded bar. Poring over books, and music, and art. Stolen kisses and glances across the room. I Love You’s and I Need You’s and I’ll Never Leave. Nature walks and drives across state lines. Running through my parking lot in the dead of winter. Whisky on our breath. Tangled sheets. The 1 a.m. calls. How you begged me to leave you alone. Lying on the pavement. Screaming on the cobblestone. Crying in your arms. My breath on your neck. Your arms around me. Your hand on my chest. You telling me you love me. Me wanting it to be different. Me wanting it to be enough. The night we drove for hours trying to get an answer. Speeding down the highway. The lump in my throat. The way I pull away when you come in for a hug. Your apologies. The solemn look you gave me when you told me to tell you if you were hurting me. The silence that filled the air.
Because yes, of course. But it was less of a hurt and more of a storm ravaging through my rib cage leaving me with nothing but a pile of debris. And maybe I saw sparks when I should have seen rubble. Maybe there was magic in the prologue and despair in the epilogue. Maybe I have always been a mess of a girl begging to make roots and a home out of a bird who wants nothing but to repair his broken wings and fly. Maybe my love is a hunger and your love is a thirst and water just won’t ever be enough to fill me.
Maybe this was never a love story.
But we’ll always have the parking lot. The parking lot where I called after you when you threw your hands in the air and walked away. The parking lot where you picked me up and spun me around and told me you loved me. The parking lot where you planted a kiss on my forehead in gratitude and held me after receiving life-altering news. The parking lot where we have all our big moments. Where we’ve sat for hours looking at the stars, talking about the vastness of the world. The parking lot where we grew up. Where we faced hard truths and dreamed big dreams. We’ll always have that parking lot where my words were lodged in my throat. Where I tried to scream for you, but all that came out was a hoarse little “Come back.” We’ll always have that parking lot because you came running back, just for a second, because you knew. You knew what the crack in my voice meant—you knew what I was trying to say. You knew that I needed you back, but you knew that you had to let go.
Maybe we were just two ships passing by, and maybe I held onto all our moments and strung them together and dared them to make sense. Dared them to be our story. Because when I close my eyes right now, I am back in that parking lot, and we are sitting in your car, and I can feel it. The breath of your departure. You’re wearing your last goodbye on your face and I am gripping my chest, looking out the window. Because looking at you means that I love you and looking away means forgetting what those eyes mean to me. Looking away means putting a pause on a closing door. Looking away means hanging onto the threads that you are letting go of. Looking away means that this story isn’t ours to tell. This story was never ours to tell. Maybe these were the signs all along. And maybe I was too blind to see them. We’ll always have that parking lot, but we’ll never have a love story, because this… this was never a love story, even if it was.