I Wish I Could Be Who I Was Before I Met You

girl in a denim jacket
Tyler Nix

There has never been a single moment in which I wished I never met you.

Even I find that hard to believe, but it’s the truth.

Before you, I had nothing to hold up to the light and point to and say, “This. This with more effort there, with less hurt here, but this.” I had no idea what I was looking for, just a blurred image in my mind cobbled together from fairytales and love songs.

And then you came, and you were not at all what I was looking for, but somehow, the blurred image became clearer and clearer until it was you. Every plan and dream I had for my future suddenly filled in until you were there with me. Until it was never just me, but always me beside you.

Before you, I didn’t know if what I wanted was impossible. I thought maybe I was just never going to get swept off my feet. Maybe I would always feel vaguely indifferent about every man I dated. Maybe what I was looking for didn’t exist.

You didn’t sweep me off my feet. You knocked me off them, sideways, head over heels over logic over reason. I sat across from you on a patio one late summer night and couldn’t make my hands stop shaking.

Did you notice? I never asked you if you noticed.

Before you, I slept through the night. I didn’t hold my phone in my hand when I fell asleep and repeatedly jolt awake to see if you’d called. I didn’t stare at my ceiling and try and try and try to recall how it felt to have you next to me.

Warm, is what I remember. Warm in the way that soaks into your bones and makes you forget that you were ever cold.

Before you, I took breathing for granted. Easy breath in, easy breath out, no thought required. No need to pause and appreciate every breath that does not burn or shudder or stall.

They burned and shuddered and stalled for months after you left.

The same was true of my heartbeats, and of my laughter, and of my hopes. I took them all for granted, and then they all broke, and now, I acknowledge their repairwork. You almost can’t see the cracks, they healed so well. You almost can’t tell how many pieces you left me in.

How many pieces? All of them. Every piece I could be made of. They cut my feet every time I tried to move on.

Before you, I wore that blue shirt without thinking of ferry rides and your hand in mine. I wore that red dress without thinking of the beach, the black dress without thinking of the night on my couch. My closet was filled with clothes, not memories.

Before you, I was content on my own. My hands didn’t look empty and my bed didn’t feel too big.

Before you, I didn’t know how far I would go for love.

I didn’t know that I would fly across the country four times for it, that I would offer to quit my job for it, that someone else’s happiness would come to matter as much as if not more than my own.

That someone’s leaving –

That someone’s choosing to leave –

That someone’s choosing to leave and not look back, never look back –

– would raze everything I am down to my bare bones and force me to rebuild myself from the ashes of who I was into someone strong enough to withstand it. Into someone who sleeps through the night again, who breathes and laughs and hopes without it hurting, who can wear that blue shirt without smelling saltwater and you, who can be alone and not lonely –

And who would still, and still, and still go that far for love.

I rebuilt myself into someone who would still go that far for love.

That far and farther, because I was strong, and now I’m stronger.

And so, there has never been a single moment in which I wished I never met you. TC mark

One story, told five ways…

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