To The Love Who I Lost

 Brooke Cagle
Brooke Cagle

I remember dreamily imagining that our first dance at our wedding would be to Bon Iver’s ‘Beth/Rest.’ A silly thought considering how much you hated them. But, I spent so many long nights with cigarettes hanging out of my mouth, writing about you, and listening to their melodies sing to me about you that I naively thought you’d eventually like them too.

What did I expect? You were a grown man, I just a 19-year-old with my mother’s credit card and no reservations about life. I remember our relationship in these vivid memories, like watching us in a music video. Laughing hand-in-hand at Milwaukee’s lakefront, going to sleepless Chinese restaurants in the middle of the night, driving nowhere and everywhere, sitting in corners of house parties as if we were the only ones there. I remember your face the most- the curve of your pursed lips, the freckles in your ocean eyes, your wide grin, and golden hair.

I have no previous recollection of my heart murmuring quite like it did the first morning I saw you in that hotel lobby. We found each other’s eyes in a sea of people and for a year after that I couldn’t get yours out of my head. I keep that thought in the forefront of my head, hoping one day I’ll be able to look at someone in that light again. See, I never got sick of you. I never got tired of hearing you complain, or play music that otherwise just sounded like noise, or the clothes that made you look like some 70s dad, I never got sick of looking at you or learning more. I could listen to you read the phonebook and be captivated. How did you do that to me?

You said to me once that you had never met anyone like me and you never thought you would again. I wonder now what you had meant by that, because at the time, I thought you were just as madly in love as I was. I try to give you the benefit of the doubt theses days, maybe you meant I was too complex to be loved by you. All those brainless blondes that came before me and here I stood, dark haired and full of intelligence and opinions. Someone had once told me a story of love loss and told me of an ominous warning which they’d failed to heed. Maybe that had been mine, maybe the whole time you were trying to tell me how it wouldn’t work, and I was just too lost in your presence to see it.

After I’d met you, fueled by love, lust, and my inheritance, I drove thirty minutes east to you each day. Telling myself how worth it, it would be in the end when I was reminiscing on these memories years from now. Truth be told, I just wanted to be around you- feeling your embrace, brushing your face, my hand tucked into your arm, my lips falling onto yours. Yours was the one drug I couldn’t kick, I’d have given up coffee and cigarettes for one more of your tender kisses.

The greatest part of your mysterious heart, the part you wouldn’t give me, belonged to a girl who would never really be yours, who only came around at the thought of you moving on. Ultimately, she was our demise, and I loathed her every minute I wasn’t with you. She made me insane, much like you did. I wanted to make this girl I’d never met, caught in the grips of an addiction far greater than me or you, jealous that you were mine. I’d find her on social media and hover my thumb over the follow button for hours, the only rational decision I ever made in that relationship was to resist those urges. But, how could I not be crazy? You dumped this girl on Valentine’s Day and showed up to my party that same night and asked me to be yours. Who was I, but the sad try after a soul mate?

You are simple, like vast oceans are simple- so comprehendible on the surface, so misunderstood at it’s depths. You were always easy to me, though. You could never lie to me, you’d give me one look and I just knew. That’s what I thought I needed at the time, though- someone simplistic to follow my free spirit, to keep me wild.

Because, after all, you were right- I am so complex and I am hard to love. You are always satisfied with life and I am never content, I have an overwhelming urge to make an earth-shattering impression in this world and you just want to grow where you are seeded. I roam on and on and you have a whole sea in front of you, yet never move past the most familiar waters. In what world did I ever think this would work? Forgive me, John; forgive me and my stroke of blind optimism.

I know now, after quite some degrees of separation, healing, and soul searching, that I deserve better than what you could’ve given me even on your best day. I deserve true, unwavering, unconditional love. You see, love is not meant to be a chore or tedious or painful, love is meant to be easy, to come as naturally as breathing. Loving you was the hardest thing I’d ever done. In the end it was neither of our faults, nor was in God’s (Czar of the Heavens, Creator of the Universe, whatever you choose to call It), but really it was Time’s. John, you and I had all the chemistry two people could muster, but timing has never been on my side.

So here I lay, two years after leaving you, in the wake of a new relationship, and yet I find myself thinking of you. Every inch of me misses every inch of you; my skin had completely regenerated since our last time together, meaning you have never touched this skin. Every part of me holds a memory of you- my mouth remembers hurting from smiling so much, my arms miss being wrapped around your waist so comfortably; my hands can still feel yours inside them. My ears still hear your sweet words, my legs tangled in yours, my chest rising and falling in sync with yours, my feet digging under your thighs for warmth, my stomach fluttering at the thought of each cursed word that fell from your perfect lips.

My eyes, they miss you the most, John. They remember each day, each outfit, each expression that crossed your face, every corner we kissed on, or restaurant we ate at. They remember you- every inch, every mile, every smile of yours. Despite all this, my rational brain will not allow all those feelings to return.

I still wonder sometimes, though, especially on chilly nights like tonight when I long for your warmth, if we will meet again. Maybe not rekindle our flame, but rather start from scratch, maybe some point when time is on our side. And, I guess, if it’s not in our cards, and people are only meant to be in your life for a season- yours was the best I’ll ever have. TC mark

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