My memory is fragmented. It isn’t whole and isn’t entirely reliable. It’s selective and arbitrary in what it chooses to recollect. For example, I can’t remember what you wore the first night we met. I don’t remember the exact words we exchanged. But I remember the shock to my gut the first time your blue eyes met mine across that bar.
Memory is a funny thing. I heard once someone say that your safest memories are the ones you don’t recall; they remain intact, untainted by the ever-changing circumstances around one’s life. But if that’s the case, then mine of you must be decrepit, crumbs of senses and feelings in the full breadbox of my story as I revisit, and revisit, and revisit. A dusty container of worn out slide film from all the nights I lay alone, desperate for the past to bring me closer to you.
Click, Slide One – a chalet, nighttime.
You went by the window to smoke that dry, hand-rolled cigarette. I came over to join you, perched on the edge of the couch. We each took a hit. You looked at me deeply and that was it. You moved your body over to me, held my face, and kissed me with a confidence I wasn’t prepared for.
Click, Slide Two – a stranger’s bed.
The first night in a foreign state with you. Nervous, excited. Talking until we fell asleep without meaning to.
Click, Slide Three – a worn out front seat.
A beautiful, seemingly endless journey. It was the beginning of summer and the air was buzzing and the water was still freezing. We drove through the trees and up the coast and we didn’t know each other or where we were going.
Slide Four – the Pacific, sundown.
When I made you dance on that deserted beach with me. I know it was stupid, but didn’t you feel free?
Five – the loft, 3 a.m.
Painting a canvas, painting each other. Broad strokes, the gray acrylic penetrating deep into our skin.
They’re getting harder to make out now. Fog has crept in, an insidious threat of reality, commitment, uncertainty. I try to squint to see through it, to focus on the simpler task of sense and muscle memory—your skin, your weight, your smell. But is it real? Fiction or fact?
Have I worn you out like a record played too enthusiastically, too aggressively?
Perhaps one’s safest memories, in fact, are those you leave in the custody of others. Perhaps I planted mine in you for safekeeping, knowing they would be visited less often, a torturous self-sacrifice for the greater good of preserving our initial magnificence. One day maybe you’ll stumble across one and it will startle you. Or maybe it will reappear not as a palpable thought, but a subtle blip in your consciousness, a wind change across the prairies of your mind. That skin itch of emotion bubbling to the surface, there and persistent, but not strong enough to break through.
Either way, I am soon to be emancipated from the burden of almost loving you. So, reckless and helpless, I let the tidal wave flashbacks of our brief love affair wash in and out until they splinter into their last shards of something tangible.
And I hope you think of me. And I hope you don’t.