When I took the train home on our last morning together, the only thing I could think of was summertime almosts. How underrated and how unrealized they are. This idea of a summertime almost — this already ephemeral shot at love fizzling. This shot of nothing remaining as nothing but hopeless whimsical thinking in my own world.
This could have been a summer of infatuation and temperamental love. It could have been the cliche long summer beach days and endless carnival rides. It could have been dinner dates and movie nights turned cuddlefests and realizing that we are only as alone as we believe we are. It could have been sharing one dollar scoops of ice cream and exchanging kisses. It could have been hiking up hills, hand-in-hand, in awe of the city and the world we had yet to explore.
But it wasn’t.
It was modern day chivalry and old-fashioned patience. It was climbing rocks on the beach believing that we were explorers that dared to keep venturing toward the ocean’s flirtatious waves. It didn’t matter that we had to slide down these graveled surfaces unsure of whether or not we would land without a scraped knee. Because this was what we wanted, we wanted that scraped knee–proof of the journey we had dared to traverse.
It was dinner dates. It was dinner in fancy restaurants and ordering a Dark and Stormy and forgetting to stir the ginger ale in with the rum and debating over actually just asking for a small glass of ginger ale so we could dilute the flavor of the rum. It was us having a French meringue and being confused about whether or not it was just a melted marshmallow. It was the unfinished halibut that you told the waiter to take away because you knew I had left it unfinished for a reason. It was us not knowing how to eat the complimentary sesame cracker with cherry puree and a dash of olive oil.
It was the late night movies. But it wasn’t the cuddling. It was the fact that we had walked to that convenience store neither of us were familiar with and the fact that we had witnessed the fight that the man had with the store owner because of ten cents shopping bags. It was cuddling with the blankets that we had and having a distilled sense of sound because the website where we streamed Ratatouille didn’t have the audio in sync with the video. It was these little delays and buffering of sound and vision that we learned to live with.
I like to think that the first time we kissed was when I asked you to try my coffee toffee because I couldn’t tell the difference between that and salted caramel. The second time we kissed was when I took a swig of your Mike’s Hard. The third time — when I said goodbye to you after our second date, unsure of what a kiss on a cheek meant to you. I went through a week of agony overthinking how you might respond to my gesture, and you ended up not saying a thing about it.
The night we drove up to mountains was the apex of our summertime almost. Midnight underneath the stars — your first sighting of stars in years — sitting on top of my car. You uncovered everything I had always tried burying, and like an archaeologist, you examined the pieces but didn’t tamper with them. All you wanted to do was understand.
Summers are seductive; we all want to take our shot at love when there’s an expiration date involved — no commitments, no risk. We look back on these relationships in the future nostalgically wishing that there was no expiration date to start with. But the mere definition of a summertime romance is that they do have an unfortunate expiration date.
Our summertime expired. You have left and I doubt I will see you again any time soon. But the beauty of a summertime almost is that it was an almost — an almost that still has the chance to blossom.