There’s a picture on my phone of you, hidden among all of the discarded selfies and screenshots of inappropriate Tinder conversations. You were at work and I was Snapchatting my friends and you asked what I was doing. I snapped the picture while you were mid making fun of me. The joke is on its way out of your mouth and there’s that little sparkle in your eye that made my heart melt into a puddle of dissolved cynicism and pessimism.
Each time we had sex you would push me in a way I didn’t know I could be pushed. I loved every second of it. I would drink up every part of you and scream into your shoulders – even those muscles did nothing to silence the sounds you brought out of me. I’ve always been loud but you took it to an entirely different level. Noise complaints were pinned to my front door the next day on more than one occasion and I was giggling childishly at what my hippy neighbors probably thought about my sex life.
But more than the sex I was addicted to talking to you until the sun started to come up. You once said that coming over to my place took planning because you knew we’d get lost talking, that what with anyone else would be a 20 minute thing would last for 5 hours between you and me. I think I fell for you a little bit each time we’d start arguing before either one of us had gotten a chance to put our clothes back on.
We were never an anything. Never had a label, never had a definition. The most I was able to stake claim in was stolen glances that I invented meanings for over a fourth IPA and three feet of bar in between us. I created somethings out of “hey you” text messages that came my way at 3 AM, pretended like I was the only person you were breathing into on Tuesday nights, grasped for some sort of sign out of the way you would kiss the back of my neck after you peeled my shirt off.
You asked me to not bullshit you and said you would never lie to me. I’m not sure if I have a right to be upset because is not saying anything the same as telling a lie? You never made me feel bad about being honest until it got a little too real and then you went off into the world without even telling me you were going. I was honest with you and now I’m going back to only being honest with my keyboard.
Each day that goes by where I don’t text you is like a little victory. I mark it on a calendar and collect imaginary chips for days I haven’t had you in my life. I’ve always been one of those people who was all or nothing and with you I was unapologetically all in. But I was playing alone and now I’m working on recollecting the pieces of myself I never should have expended and my dignity that I watched slip away when I cared about you in a way you never cared about me. Each day that goes by where I fight through to urge to admit “I miss you” is seen as a win in my book.
But regardless of me swallowing down the want and the need to try and force you into my life I can’t bear to delete that picture of you. You hadn’t gotten rid of your facial hair, had that ridiculously adorable look on your face that brought out your dimples, and I liked to pretend that you told all of your work buddies, “That’s the girl who gave me the scar on my arm from holding onto it.” Every now and then when I’m a half bottle of wine deep and wishing that your legs were touching mine I scroll through and find it and remember how much I really liked having you in my life.
You were important to me. You changed me. You made me remember what it was like to be excited to see someone and what it was like to miss somebody. You made an impression on my heart that I still can’t quite define and I’m not sure if it’s ever going to go away.
So for now, the picture of you is going to suffice. The memories of you laughing and making fun of you are what I’m going to hold onto instead of grasping for someone who isn’t there. I’m getting to the point where thinking about you doesn’t make me want to throw myself into a place of desperation. I’m almost to the place where I want to talk to you again and knowing that you won’t kiss me after we yell at each other about politics doesn’t make me feel abandoned.
But I’m not totally there.
So for now, I’m not ready to see you. I’m only ready to think about you once a day and remember that until I’m ready to try and bring you back into my life in even the smallest of possible ways I have your picture and nothing to apologize for.