How do I erase you from a city where it bleeds memories of you and me?
Of summer, in the heat, sweat rolling down my neck, holding hands in spite of it. Barbecues up and down the city blocks, in places I can’t even remember how to get to, with groups of friends of yours I won’t remember, who won’t remember me. Drinking until our vision blurred, so many bottles of Bombay Sapphire my veins burned blue. Scuffed bar floors, my heels and sneakers and flip flops walked over so many thresholds of places where we had insane amounts of fun. Always laughing, kissing, meeting new people, and when our eyes met across a room, everything stilled.
Impulse. That’s how I would describe you. Everything was quick, always moving, always changing. Like you were always two steps ahead of me and I was just waiting to see where you would go next. Like spots of light or atoms, you moved with this lightning-like grace, and I was in awe of it. The way you pick up and go without looking back, like nothing holds weight in your eyes. I should have known from the start that it would destroy us.
But we fell in love and things changed. I wanted more from you, expected more from you. And this could easily turn into a diatribe of all the ways we spiraled downwards, of all the little ways we betrayed each other, all the lies, but I don’t want it to be that. I want to stop remembering those things, and just remember the good. I want to fill my mind with smoke, with blurs of summer nights, riding in your car, the sounds of the streets and the city and the people so loud it blocks out all the noise of sadness.
And yet everything has a memory. Sensory memories I can’t shake, like they crawl beneath my skin. Even that apartment we used to live in together; I remember the very first time you brought me there, when there was only a worn-out couch and we made love on it and woke up halfway clothed to the midday sun streaming in. I stand there now, months later, an empty apartment once more and it’s like an empty battleground, eerie and still. The fights and the break ups and the make ups and the waiting and the love and the way you touched me all exists there, as one, hanging in the air, nearly suffocating me. Places I can never go again. The Chilean restaurant on that one street where we tried to get lunch but realized they were closed, so we bought beer and went down the block instead. The bar where we saw our first concert together, on our first date. San Francisco. The alley where we made out that one night, my arms wrapped around you. Our usual bars. My bed.
I can’t cross these streets anymore without seeing the ghost of you, who you were to me, reminding me of all the things I’ve lost.
I wish I could get it all back. Sitting on stools across from your friends, sharing stories, laughing, looking at each other and knowing this was something, knowing it was changing us. I’ve never met someone I could actually say was my soulmate, in all versions of the word. Something like this is so rare, and it burns that you weren’t ready for it, that you didn’t have the courage to take on something this big and let it change you, let it kill you.
So how do I erase you? I imagine myself walking down the streets we used to love and peering into windows of places we used to go and wondering if you’re inside. With someone else. With your friends. Moving on. I feel like I will just go through the motions to remember you, remind myself that it was real, visiting our old spots and hoping that’s enough to fill the void. That someday I’ll be able to go there again and not be reminded of you. Maybe its torture, but maybe it’s enough for now.
Instead I’m left with pieces of us, of fleeting memories, of you always dropping me off somewhere, and leaving me, alone. I wish we could go back, and instead of closing the door behind me, you had, just once, opened yours too.