How You Forget The One Who Got Away

I sometimes still think about the first time we kissed. I’ll lay down to go to sleep and all of a sudden it will just wash over me again. Unprompted. Uninvited. I felt a very specific way about the first time your lips first touched mine because in that moment I realized that we had crossed a line that we could never recover from and that we would never be the people we once knew each other as. I remember feeling how your lips locked and waved against mine, and how gently you kissed my neck, and how your legs felt on either side of me. I remember I just wanted to do it and get it over with. You were hesitant, as you should have been. I wanted a cure, and so did you. But I was ready to rush it, and you knew that if we went there, we weren’t coming back. I want you to know I’m grateful for that. I want you to know that you were different to me that night.

You were trying to use me as a bandaid. I knew it at the time though I was decidedly ignorant of it. Because I was doing the same to you. I could pretend to be the victim of your own selfishness, I could guilt you over the fact that you knew you were being an asshole, but at the end of the day, I wasn’t mad, and I didn’t feel used, I was just putting up my defenses so I wouldn’t have to face the fact that I was doing the exact same thing to you.

I think we knew that if it would have worked, it would have been hella good and we could have had an extraordinary love between us. But the past that wasn’t so far behind us was still present. So clearly for you. And so hidden, but just as much so, for me. On paper, we work. In practice, we didn’t and can’t, and sometimes it takes a little bit of growing up to realize that love is never just about how much your heart swells when you’re with someone. There’s a lot of other baggage, and people, and situations, that get tied up in it. It shouldn’t be that way, but it is.

But we didn’t want each other at the end of the day. You weren’t the one who got away, and neither was I to you. But in the most twisted way, we were pretending that somehow the light at the end of the tunnel was in each other. We were more like broken friends who would have done better by sitting on the couch and talking about how we were hurting, not trying to silently mask it by making more of what would never be.

You do not forget the one who gets away by replacing them with someone else. You just don’t. The loss of them doesn’t actually make the gain of someone you don’t really want suddenly feasible, though it seems desirable. A broken heart will make you do things like that. A broken heart will make you suck people dry and use them for whatever they’ve got. It’s shitty but inevitable.

The thing is that you don’t forget the one who got away. You make room for their absence. It will be a tangible thing, though that seems like a conundrum. And the people you use to replace them will teach you something amazing: fabricated love cannot replace real love, and the truth comes out, always. They will show you how much the other person really meant. Unfortunately, we all end up collateral damage to each other’s past losses.

I think that there’s something to be said about the people who we think about as we’re orgasming, as we’re walking down the street, wishing they were seeing what we were seeing, as we’re contemplating the future and suddenly feel lost because without them, there’s no structure on which to base the rest of your decisions. And the people you love most will do that to you– they’ll make themselves front and center, and you’ll happily build everything else around them. Until they go, and it all caves in. And you put other people there to try to fix it, to try to hold it back up. That’s how I felt when I was holding you that night. That I wasn’t holding onto another person, but to an answer, and to hope. I’m not sorry you didn’t end up being that for me. I’m grateful, because it made me see that the love I was trying to replace wasn’t totally gone. TC Mark

Part time writer. Full time bad ass bitch. Brunch-having New Yorker.

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