selective focus photograph of woman in gray coat

It’s January Again And I Still Think Of You

It’s January again, and I don’t mean to nag, but the thought of you forgetting my name breaks my fucking heart. It’s January again, and I still wear your favorite t-shirt to bed sometimes, hoping that some cataclysmic force would bring you back to me. It’s January again, and I still desperately believe in a future where we agree to give up the tap dance under a tangerine sky and walk arm in arm into the sun. It’s January again, and I’m sorry if I’m still just a monster of a girl who wears loneliness like a second skin. Did you know they say it only takes 27 days for skin to fully regenerate? What I mean to say is it’s January again, and I wonder how many layers of my skin you’ll never get to meet.

That summer still lingers on my tongue, sticky and sweet, like fresh honey in a mug of tea. Flashback to that June, when we’re picking dandelions atop a grassy hill. When we lay on the green of the Earth and make amends with who we’ve been. When you say sorry for the first time long before I knew how many times you’d breathe out apologies. We play board games by candlelight and flip through old CDs. We tell stories about growing up and drink whiskey like it’s water. We stand under storm clouds, we watch the waves crash the shore; we dance in the rain, in the kitchen, in your room, in the street. We dance and we dance and we dance, and never once do I expect the music to one day stop.

It’s July and we are a mess of tangled limbs. On the couch. In the bed. On the sand. In the car. It’s July and we’re sitting under a lifeguard stand, your head on my shoulder, naming all of the stars under a neon moon. I hold onto your arms and you sing into my ear. We drive for miles and do nothing but talk. We drive for miles and you never take your hand off my thigh. You tell me the funniest thing you’ve ever done and I laugh until I can’t breathe. I watch with glittering eyes on the sidelines as you do the thing you love the most and I plant myself next to you when that very same thing buries you into the ground. I come running with a hose, but you tell me to stop watering weeds. But weeds are just wildflowers, and you, my darling, have always been a wild soul. I am convinced that people always leave and you tell me that no one ever stays. But my feet have been planted in the soil ever since we started this dance. We are driving on a busy road and you almost crash into an onslaught of traffic. I scream your name and throw myself in front of you, and just for one second, the image of you from the first time you got out of your car and ran into my arms flashes before my eyes, and I vow in that moment that we have to be the ones to prove ourselves wrong.

It’s January again, and I’m sorry to bother you, but do you remember the time you asked me to describe love using one word? “Home,” I whispered. “Love feels like coming home.” It’s just that I left a map in your car and I’ve been letting the sun guide me ever since. It’s just that summer’s never been my favorite season, but that summer was the solstice that brought me to life and then swallowed me whole. It’s just that I have cuts all over my hands from trying to make a mosaic house out of our broken shards of glass. It’s just that I don’t know how to stop the bleeding.

The winter air clings to the earth and I am desperate for a sun that won’t shine long enough. It’s December and your head is in my lap; my heart is in your hands. You tell me that you love me while you draw hearts with your finger on my palm. We chase a bottle of champagne with laughter and bare feet on icy pavement. We dance dizzily to nothing but the sound of our own heart’s beating. It’s January when I lay in your arms, where you kiss my head and tell me on a Wednesday morning that you love me. It’s February when you throw me on a pedestal. When you shout about who we are from the rooftops. When you show me off like a prize. When I start to mistake big red flags for big red love.

It’s March when I learn that fear is an anchor I am just not strong enough to untie. It’s March and you’re across the bar from me. My chest aches at the truth we’ll never say. I don’t try to make eye contact. I don’t try to look into your eyes for the confirmation of almost. It’s March and you’re buying us drinks and a girl I’ve never met leans into me and giddily tells me that the man across the bar is in love with me. I nod and smile politely, my head spinning before I’ve even had a sip of liquor. She pulls me into the bathroom the way girls do and suddenly we’re no longer strangers. Suddenly, she’s telling me, “You’re lucky. It’s cute the way he’s looking at you. You can tell he cares.” We touch up our makeup and before I can turn around, she says, “But he looks worried. Like he was afraid that he lost you in the crowd of people.” She links her arm into mine and we walk out together. I make my way through the sea of bar regulars and feel her words echo in the air around me. I see the way you’re looking, but caring isn’t synonymous with a lace-clad walk down the aisle and that look of worry isn’t synonymous with the fear of losing me in a crowd, but losing me to the truth: that our love could never withstand all four seasons, and how naïve was I to think it could.

It’s January again and I burn my thumb on a match, but it feels like my whole body is covered in flames. You roll your eyes at my pain and pull me in for a hug. It’s January again, and for one split second, it feels like things are normal. Like we aren’t just pieces of shrapnel disguised as precious stones. Like I’m not searching for answers in your haunted eyes, in the words that you’ll never say. It’s January again, and I’m sorry that all I ever do is beg for signs. In the frosty winter air, in my hollow dreams at night, in the single red cardinal that greets me outside my door every morning. It’s January again, and I am still trying to figure out what it all means.

It’s January again and I am sinking into a cerulean sea of nostalgia. Your hand is on my shoulder and I flashback to that September night when you dragged me out so we could dance under the stars. I flashback to the December night when you steal my license out of my wallet and hold my picture against your chest. I flashback to the July afternoon where you grip my waist outside a restaurant and tell me I am the only person you ever want to see. I flashback to that August when I show up at your door and you squeal when I jump into your arms. I flashback to that October night when we held up our beers and you winked at me and I knew that I was doomed. I flashback to that December night when you rattle on about all of the things that you love and you put me at the top of your list.

It’s just that it’s January again, and I don’t remember who we were anymore. It’s January again, but I panic at your touch—at the unfamiliarity of it all. I flinch when you come close. I lie awake when you fall asleep. I count the ticking of the clock before I get up and leave. It’s January again, and this bed isn’t the same. These walls aren’t the same. This house isn’t the same. It’s January again, and your question about love still echoes in the hollow of my chest. It’s January again, and I see it all so clearly now. I’ve only ever been almost enough, haven’t I? Enough to keep you warm at night, but not the blanket that you’ll keep forever. Enough of a body to curl into, but not enough to tattoo into your heart. Enough to help you build the walls, but not the one that gets the key inside. It’s January again, and I promise I’ll leave you alone soon, but do you remember when you told me that I was the girl who brought light into your life? I finally realize that you only meant that I was a torch to light the way—never the sun to light your sky. It’s January again, and to you, I have only ever been a pitstop. It’s January again, and I just want to come home.

“There will always be light, and I will never stop chasing it.”

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