When I Remember What Could’ve Been

vantinike
vantinike

We’re sitting, thighs grazing, in a cab on a Tuesday night going to a bar. We’re complete strangers. I’m just drunk enough to chat you up, start casual conversation about the basics: where we live, how old we are, the usual bit. There’s no doubt in my mind that we’d been in the same place in the same time before this night, completely blind to each other’s existence. That night, you took some other girl home. We flirted for virtually the entire night, shamelessly, and you picked someone else. That should’ve been the first red flag. One of many to come.

Things peaked pretty early, though. We shared secrets, likes and dislikes, sat way too close to each other. We drank beer, talked about music, and how we ended up in this place. Bam. That’s all it took. I was invested. No turning back now.

We could’ve been somewhere pretty magnificent at this point. Jumped off the rollercoaster. Changed the story. Grabbed the reins and took an alternate route.

I craved having a real conversation with you. I craved it more than any food, drink or piece of clothing. I felt it in my bones.

Every drunken weekend we spent together, dancing sloppily in crowded bars, I’d look into your eyes, and feel the words prick the tip of my tongue. Say it. I wanted to. I physically needed to. The words were in my bloodstream. Boiling. Rising to the surface. They were prisoners in my mouth, yearning to make the great escape.

Why couldn’t I say them? Why couldn’t these tiny, yet significant prisoners just be free once and for all? All I needed was one insane moment of blind courage, reject my insurmountable fear of rejection, and just talk. We’ve talked before. About lots of things. This shouldn’t be this difficult.

What could’ve been? Oh my head is spinning at just the thought.

We’d take walks along the Hudson. My soft, tan hands laced between your firm, strong ones. I feel safe and secure just feeling your palm pressed against mine, our fingers intertwined with enough force to take on anything, or so it seems. Our arms swing lazily by our sides; the sun dips lower and lower, glinting off your green eyes, creating a color no camera could ever capture, no matter how hard I try. We learn more and more about each other, and in turn, learn more and more about ourselves. Days turn into nights. Nights turn into weeks. Weeks turn into months. Time is passing, seasons are changing, but our relationship is a solid, constant force. Oh, if only.

We’d have endless Netflix marathons, alternating between your bed and mine. It wouldn’t matter what we’re wearing, what we look like, or how long we lay there, not moving, accomplishing nothing. The level of comfort is unprecedented. We’d lay, under the covers, with my head nestled on your chest, making lazy circles on your worn in t-shirt, just above your heart. You’d have your head resting on one hand, the other wrapped around my back, for hours. We get up every few episodes, or movies, grab a snack, saunter lazily to the bathroom. And every so often, we look at each other, smile, as if in on a secret the rest of the world knows nothing about, and kiss for a second or two. No pomp and circumstance. No fervor or pressure. Just you and me. Comfortably.

We’d go on drives in your little red car. After enough of these trips, that little red car starts to feel like home. Radio stations come in and out, static eclipsing our natural, easy banter as the hours pass by out the half-open windows. The breeze whips my hair behind my shoulder, and I can see it start to knot in the reflection of your metallic sunglasses. The sound of your laugh is ever-present, as is the “fight” about who gets to pick the music for the next hour. It was your idea to take turns after eight Taylor Swift songs in a row. We take pictures of the quaint towns we pass through. There is a growing pile of to-go cups strewn around the leather interior, joined by tangled pairs of headphones, air fresheners, and forgotten homework assignments shoved into seat pockets. It’s a mess we both can handle.

We’d take endless trips to get food, coffee, gas, groceries. Mundane activities were suddenly anything but mundane. I mindlessly sing songs while strolling through Stop and Shop, and you feign embarrassment, but I see right through your facade. We spend hours in the library, drinking coffee and attempting to get something, anything, done, but we really end up watching funny videos of dogs on YouTube. We eat lunch with our friends, talking and laughing, relishing the fact that our lives didn’t have to change, because your friends are my friends, and vice versa. We recap the highs and lows of our days, laying on your twin sized bed, cloaked in the darkness of the night, as the dim light of the moon peaks its way through your shades. We go to sleep, arms wrapped around each other, breaths growing heavier with each passing minute. We achieve a level of peace I never thought possible, especially while sleeping with another person.

You text me out of nowhere just to ask how my day was going. You come to my house, unannounced, give me under ten minutes to get ready, and drag me out the door. You come up with plans. You put in effort. The world spins madly on.

I listen to your concerns about graduating, and what life will be like when you no longer live in a frat house. I hold your hand, stroke your back, and ease your fears about growing up and leaving college. I run my hands through your hair, feeling closer to another human being than ever before. There is nothing I’d change about this moment.

Even when things seem shitty, they’re not. They can’t be. Because we’re together. You complain endlessly. Your negativity never ceases to totally destroy every good mood I find myself in. You ruthlessly harass me for thinking positively, and there aren’t enough death glares in the world to get you off my back. We don’t talk for 24 straight hours and I momentarily panic that you’ve made yourself a ghost for good this time. Except you don’t. It never gets that far. We don’t let it.

I need to move forward, though. I need to jump off the rollercoaster. I need to write a new story. I need to grab the reins and find that alternate route. I need to start running the race. Even if it’s just a jog. And I wish that you were running alongside me. But you’re not.

And that’s okay. TC mark

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