I knew that time would now pass for me differently than it would for him – that I, like everyone in that room, would go on accumulating loves and losses while he would not.
– John Green
It was supposed to get easier the older I got. Missing you, I mean.
I spent years collecting sighs trying to forget the way you smelt like the ocean and the way your hair was like a permanent sandbox, until I woke up one day in a distant land and smiled in fond remembrance of two shadows counting stars. You were my anchor.
The sweet cherry of your lips always belied the bitter taste of mint, a taste I still can’t quite swallow, even now.
I walk down leaf littered pathways and trample each flower as I struggled through bad days and sad days. Each breath brought me further away from you and I was afraid of the grave unknown. You used to whisper that I would never be alone and I believed you.
I still do.
Teenage moments began to crowd you out and I fled the coop like a horse on fire, learning how to braid my hair into French braids, trading the simple pleasures of warm coke and fresh cut grass for the more tantalizing smells of musty cigarettes and warm shots of Tequila. New friends and new faces in a new city and I had outgrown you, all too easily.
But you reeled me back in again, like you always do.
He was a new face I fell in love with because I needed something to lust after. His warm brown eyes shrouded in a classic cold that I craved because it was something I could never get and honestly, I didn’t really want to.
After all, it’s always been you.
You know, I still hear you in the summer wind as I slam my feet into the warm sands every year I return home. I go to the beach in desperate attempts to keep you close, but I’m too cowardly to return to the land where you reside. A land my conscious has learnt to ignore.
Through trial and error I began to heal, with each piece of myself I gave to strangers whom I never truly loved. Not the way I was supposed to because all parts of myself had been shattered long before I was even fully formed.
I watched as the years robbed me of you. Fascinated by mirrors because they reflected the changes in me, I watched as my body began rounding and filling up and I lost the awkwardness of gangly limbs. I wondered about you every now and then, mostly at a certain time of the year because I was expected to, but usually, you were a distant memory of a forgotten past I could barely remember. Or so I say.
But little things could trigger a melancholy I didn’t want to feel. Are you still my anchor?
There were times when I escaped reality for a little bit and treaded water, surrendering myself to the scents of freshly cut grass and a glass of coke left out in the sun to warm, but the scents were never quite as fresh and the coke was just a vile concoction of bland chemicals and dashed hopes. In those moments, you were fully gone.
I was fourteen when you went away for good. For a little while, I fooled myself into thinking I was relieved, but really, it was just an all-encompassing numbness that separated me from you.
I began to fill up boxes that bore no signatures, just a plain emblem of graying whiteness and prayed for the strength to walk away with each fresh hurt that came from loving too many wrong boys. I was sixteen when I found someone just like you again.
He came as a quiet surprise with the wild winds of the land I didn’t quite remember and the smell of the ocean, though his hair was a permanent rusty color.
The summer wind whispered to me and you kissed me one last time. I tasted mint on my lips, barely discernable from the salty tang of the ocean air. I smelt you and lost myself in the gaze of the sweetest blue. Melancholy took over again.
You wrapped me in a blanket when I was four because I fell asleep and you were too little to carry me in, you tried, I remember you telling me. I was always just too fast of a grower. Remember? I was ten when I outgrew you. I’ve stopped growing since then.
I went to school and they taught me how to throw balls into nets and calculate trigonometry. I learnt that gravity pulls you down and that time tears you apart. I learnt and I learnt and I learnt but it was always the useless junk and it never helped much, but while I learnt, the thing I feared most came true without me noticing it until much, much later.
When I was thirteen, I fell in love for the first time. In a way that you couldn’t taint, no matter how hard you tried. I lost myself in him so completely that I forgot you, for a long time. You got cold, but he was alive to me and I couldn’t let him go, though you begged and pleaded and threw pebbles against my window, pouting when I refused to come out and play. Summer froze.
It was supposed to get easier the older I grew. Missing you, I mean. Truth be told though, I never fully mastered the art of escapism, despite priding myself on being the greatest escapist since Copperfield. Or was he the illusionist? I learnt to strum the guitar in quiet chords and I learnt to bang the drums while you wilted away singing your sad tunes. Songs I still hear when I let myself quiet down from the drama of being a teenage girl. This year, I’m leaving for college, fleeing to a new world with lush greens and cold mountains.
The thing I feared most crept up onto me years ago. I’ve outlived you and I’ve outgrown you, my pretty golden boy. It did get easier the older I got. I can no longer hear you stamping your foot in pouting protests, begging me to come out and play. The you I found in rust has a cynic beauty I’ve slowly learnt to admire. I spent years collecting sighs trying to forget the smell of the ocean and the way your hair was permanent with flakes of dusty sand. I still climb trees sometimes but I’m no longer all thumbs now and I don’t need you to grab my flailing hands before I fall.
Yesterday, I wrote you a song and I sang it to the wind, wondering what you’ll be like now, imagining that I heard you sing back. Only, the wind was cold.
Missing you has taken the best of me, darling, will you please let me go?
“You sir, are deficient!”
“How am I deficient?”
“You’re just a boy…”
But this belongs to you Peter, and always will.