I wasn’t sure if it was you standing in front of me in line until you leaned your head back and impatiently twisted side to side with your hands in the front of your sweatshirt, and for a split second I thought I could double-back to my car before you saw me in your peripherals. Or if I pulled out my phone and buried my head before you caught me you said,
Part of me thinks I’ll never love someone as much as I loved you, because I didn’t know what I was doing, I’d never felt it before so I dove in. I never told you, though. I never said, “I love you,” because I wasn’t sure if you loved me back until you told me with tears in your eyes that you didn’t, and you were sorry.
“Hey, almost didn’t recognize you with black hair.”
You reached above your head with both hands and patted your bun, “Do you like it? I’m going Goth this year.”
I remember the blonde hairs. Even after I stripped my bed and washed everything, after I threw out the pillow because it was still stained with your mascara and infected with that Pomegranate smell of whatever you used in the shower before you’d climb into bed and tickle me just to get me to wrestle you when you knew you’d never win and didn’t want to, and I’d flip you on your back and pin your arms above your head and you’d laugh and as I bent down to kiss you you’d take a deep breath and close your eyes just before I did, I’d still find those hairs.
I’d still find them and think of you complaining that ‘Sorry, I’m shedding my winter coat,’ except the memory of those words was ruined because I remember laughing when you said that and now I couldn’t. The moment you ended it those memories lost their color, because they were created with a feeling I no longer knew and the thought of you never feeling the same but believing you did made me feel stupid.
“Oh totally, except you’re wearing a red sweatshirt and gray sweatpants, so, not really Goth,”
We both smiled and you laughed and said, “Shut up.”
Whenever I teased you you’d laugh and say ‘pshhh,’ and the more accurate the tease the more likely you’d say ‘shut up.’ Then you stopped saying either so I stopped teasing you and got scared something was wrong and as much as it hurt I gave you more and more space, and every time I saw you after a few days or weeks of not seeing you I felt like I was walking off of an airplane and coming home to the only place a felt free, but to you it must’ve felt like picking up a sibling you’d hoped wouldn’t call you for help, like the longer you didn’t say something and the longer I tried to ignore the signs the more pain you knew you’d cause.
You put your hands back in your sweatshirt, “Who are you seeing the movie with?”
“Myself. I don’t like when people talk during movies,”
Whenever we watched movies I’d have my finger on ‘pause’ because you’d either ask “Why did he do that?” “What did he say?” “Wait, is he going to kill him?” and I’d groan and hit pause to explain it to you and you’d sometimes smile at my struggle to not be truly annoyed and eventually I’d cut off your questions and give you a “Shhh…” and pet the top of your head, which really got you going and you’d pinch me and tickle me and climb on top of me and sometimes we wouldn’t even finish the movie at all.
You laughed, “Oh my god, I ruined movies for you,”
I laughed, “You absolutely did,”
“NEXT IN LINE PLEASE…Ma’am.”
You turned toward the woman behind the window and back towards me and hugged me – your cheek pressed against my chest and my chin rested on top of your head, and in one breath of that Pomegranate I could touch those memories with my fingertips and I smiled and felt dizzy like I used to, and when you didn’t let go I selfishly hoped you’d felt the same.
“It was good seeing you,”
I did everything wrong by doing everything right.