We stumble, laughing, out of your apartment complex, down the hill to the water, the white wine breaking in waves against our glasses’ edges as we jostle each other and descend the staircases – leaning into each other as it hits us. The echoes of what we consider witty banter fill the evening air, and all I hear is my own doubled-over laughter. The night breeze is cool; our pace is fast; my heartbeat is faster.
“That looks nice,” muses a couple as they pass us, enviously eyeing our wine glasses as we escape our own realities.
In that moment, you encompass my world. We commiserate over the same professors, the same friends, the same overwhelming fears of the future. You challenge me. You infuriate me. You are the hardest lesson I ever learned.
That night, I couldn’t imagine a life without you.
But the world is bigger than it seemed then. Those professors, those friends, those fears all faded into the past. I resolved not to dwell on the pain we caused each other, but rather on the realization that you helped me discover my potential, my strength, my independence.
I walk that same path now. I pass the same grassy incline where in the summers we used to lie under the stars on your old blue plaid comforter. You would criticize the city skyline, as I exhaled, knowing that you were already gone.
Now I start every day and end every night looking out at that same skyline. I find myself smiling every time I pause in front of a window to reflect on it. This place that wasn’t enough for you is my home now. And when I walk the water, I can still hear two kids laughing, unaware of how little laughter they had left together.