There is a boy in Los Angeles, more limbs and kindness than actual boy. His eyes are hopeful and his heart is so big I’m surprised it’s able to stay beneath his sternum. You’d think with a heart that big it would leap out of his chest because the beats were too much, too heavy, too deep to be contained by merely skin. His arms spread so wide they’d wrap around me multiple times, squishing my body into him, enveloping me and holding me close.
But even with that overlapping embrace his arms weren’t enough to hold me.
There is a boy in Los Angeles, and he’s there because I chased him away. His heart is beating in Hollywood inside of someone else’s hands because I refused to hold onto it, onto him. He tried to keep me, tried to find ways to be enough. But I could not be fulfilled by kindness, could not be satiated with what he had to offer.
So I left.
And in leaving, I broke that big, beautiful, beating heart. I smashed it and left pieces of it strewn alongside of I-90 in my wake. And he took the pieces he could salvage and moved them 16 hours and 42 minutes away from me.
And neither of us ever said goodbye.
There is a boy in Los Angeles. He is 6 foot 2 and still wears shirts I remember picking out and smiling at because I knew they’d make him laugh. The cadence of his speech is still the same and when I replay videos of his acting reel I can almost, almost remember what it was like to hear his voice say my name in my ear at 3 in the morning when he thought I was sleeping.
But he is not mine.
Because this boy in Los Angeles is not the boy I loved anymore. No. He’s not really even a boy. He’s a man.
And he belongs to someone else.
She is someone who I’ve never seen in person, who I’ve never connected with. Someone who looks like she has a smile that could light up a room, skin that feels like butter, and a soul that genuinely wants to love and be loved. She looks like someone who feels those long, lanky arms wrap around her once, twice, three times a lady and doesn’t pull away to catch her breath, but sinks in and breathes him in instead.
She looks like someone who deserves him.
And frankly, I know I never did. I loved him in the purest, most honest way I could. But it would never have been enough. And he deserved more than “just this”, than “not enough”. Than me. I didn’t deserve the whole, all encompassing, forgiving and true love that he had to give me.
Which is why I know I never deserved the ring that is currently sitting on her finger.
There is a boy in Los Angeles. He is all limbs and heart and soul and sweetness and love that I could never hold close enough. But even though I did wrong by him, he’s a part of me. I see him whenever I book a plane ticket that involves a destination to California. I see him when I type at my computer and hear someone call me a writer and remember that class that he made me take where I didn’t know if I belonged.
I see him in the reflection of my naked ring finger, a place we’d both imagined him being but ultimately knew he would never fit.
I see him. And I miss him. And I know I loved him.
Even if that love was not enough for either of us.
There is a boy in Portland, more guts and bleeding heart and passion than I ever knew what to do with. He is loud and boisterous and too much and not enough all at once. He is intimidatingly cool and the person you want by your side with everything from a concert to a nuclear holocaust.
He’s that guy.
And yes, I still wonder if I’m still in love with him too.
There is a boy in Portland, and every time I remember how it felt when he said my name I melt. No. Melt isn’t the right word for it. My heart stops, my fists tighten, my muscles tense, everything about me is set on edge.
There is a boy in Portland, and every time I think about him saying my name I can’t breathe.
Because that boy in Portland represents heartbreak.
I wish I didn’t say that.
I wish I didn’t immortalize him in that way but if we’re being honest, that’s what he is. He took my heart and he threw it from the depths of Montana to the Seattle Coastline and I’m not really sure if I’ve found it anywhere in the tide pool since.
He was messy and pure and desperate and calming all at once. He was a walking oxymoron that I was addicted to making sense of and creating a definition of in our days. He was smoke rings that couldn’t be broken and a smell that still lingers on the hemlines of my shirts.
He was everything and everywhere and everyone you wanted in between.
And I couldn’t get enough.
There is a boy in Portland, and he wasn’t supposed to be this close, this touchable, this tangible. I ran away from him. I ran away from the mess he made when he decided to swing a metaphorical hammer above my head and see what happened when he smashed the mosaic beneath. I collected the chipped ceramic that at one time had been my heart and tried my best to rebuild it from the ruins.
And I failed.
So I ignored him. I pretended like the boy in Portland was actually a boy that was dead. Like there was soft earth, and damp moss covering that beautiful mouth and that there wasn’t a heartbeat that fueled me ringing out in the Pacific Northwest.
I pretended like he never existed.
But…he did. And he does.
There is a boy in Portland. He is 6 foot 2 and has a gunshot scar on one of his arms and a mouth that tastes like forevers and a voice that sounds like promises no one can ever keep. His touch is like sticking your finger in an electrical socket and even though I’m not sure if I could pick him out in a lineup anymore I would try, try, try.
There is a boy in Portland. And even though he broke my heart, we still never said goodbye.
And all I want is to hold his hand one last time, to kiss those fingers and thank them, and to tell him how much he meant to me.
There is a boy in Los Angeles, and there is a boy in Portland.
And they both mean different things, but both mean a lot.
And I loved them both.
If they know nothing else,
“I loved you, I loved you, I love you.”