You were in my car the other night. Such a simple, strange thing to happen in our small little town. But there you were, suddenly next to me, taking up space, telling silly jokes and switching the stations on the radio as if months of distrust hadn’t happened between us, as if tears hadn’t been shed, as if other lips hadn’t been kissed.
I tried to play it off with nonchalance, but I found myself wondering about you. Wondering what the background on your phone screen had been changed to. Wondering if you still stayed up until 3AM on weeknights. Wondering if you still used the same shampoo and still ran your fingers through those unruly locks.
Wondering if you still wondered about me.
In that car, time seemed to pass slowly. We weren’t alone, but it felt as if we could have been. You whispering things to me across the center console, barely understood above the singer’s voice. You leaning your head towards me, softly resting on my shoulder.
You spoke to me, across the boundaries of the car, across the boundaries of what we used to be, of what we were. Your words were slightly slurred, but careful. They carried across that space between us, filling both our heads with this dizziness that wasn’t from the drinks.
I drove slowly. Maybe because I was the designated driver, my car filled with drunk friends that I wanted to bring home safe. Or maybe because I wanted to stretch out my time with you. Time that over the last few months had been scarce—run-ins at parties, smiles and waves exchanged as we passed one another on the quiet town roads.
But something was strange about that car, about that specific drive. Time seemed to stop. It was a sacred space, a space where suddenly it was okay that you were reaching over to me, placing your hand on mine. It was okay that I could feel your eyes on me as I focused on the curves of a low-lit backroad.
It was okay that everything had changed, yet nothing had changed.
And here we were again, two bodies humming with one another’s electricity in the moonlight.
Losing you had been hard. After arguments filled with stubbornness, hasty conversations, and stupid decisions on both parts, we had fallen away from each other. We are two different people, we said, a mantra that had become an excuse for laziness for both of us.
We had agreed that breaking up was right, that we wanted different things, that our lives were just too opposite. Even then we knew we were lying to one another.
But here we were, in proximity again. Breathing the same air, looking at the same stars.
You had touched my hand, and it startled me that it felt familiar. That I recognized the warmth of your skin. You said something about the sky then, a dark sky that was flickering with lightning from an earlier storm. You commented how you loved storms, how you always did. And I didn’t.
You laughed, a sound that seemed to spark something in the innermost part of my chest. You hate storms, and I love them. You said again. Of course.
And suddenly I knew you were talking about so much more.
You were talking about the differences between us, how who we were as people pulled us farther and farther away, like a rubber band stretched too tight, yet a tension that as much as it was pulled away, had an even stronger desire to pull back.
How even though I hated storms, I could bear them if I wasn’t alone.
I dropped you off, ignoring those pleading eyes, not daring to breathe until I reached my driveway and turned off the ignition. Mosquitoes danced in the porch light, and without the radio, I could hear the sounds of summer buzz all around my car.
Even then, I knew that night, that moment between us would be fleeting. That if I saw you again, it wouldn’t be the same. I chalked it up to the alcohol, that maybe those were drunk words whispered to me in that car. That your sober mind knew better.
But the truth is, you’re scared.
We’re all scared.
And maybe some moments are meant to be kept safe, sacred, untouched. Captured in a car on a highway, or stored away in a little memory bottles on a shelf until we’re ready to open them. Ready to be reminded of what it feels like to feel drunk, dizzy on love.