I remember the first day I met you. I remember things like the lemony smell of cleaner wiped on desks that are stacked in neat rows. (The fragrance of new beginnings and freedom, of Clorox and summer bliss.) I remember the sugary May sun, patches of snow still on the ground like clumpy flour in a leftover bread pan, sticking to the sides and scraped on top of the gingery dirt of the earth. I walk out the school doors and gulp the air, the promising air.
I remember, I remember.
I see the clouds, the sky, the wind even. The parking lot after rain, the muddy perfume of wet asphalt. It’s all so new. It was fresh, you were fresh. You were everything all at once and at the right time. Almost a year has gone by, and life is so different, but somehow my heart still feels the same things sometimes. I’ve learned that moving on is harder than I thought.
After it was over, (too soon, maybe) I thought my heart was broken. I missed you, and I wanted to feel like a tragic poem, so I grasped onto my own pain, thinking it would bring about some new revelation and creative outpouring of itself. But, as much as I want my life to be an elegant, introspective piece of art, it’s not, and I really just felt confused and empty. I know now that I don’t need you. I like you, and maybe I’ll always remember you with a twinge in my heart, but isn’t that what you wanted anyways? Sometimes when I see brilliant clouds, I’ll think of you, or when that one dcfc song comes on, I’ll remember. It’s all that’s left now, but it’s enough.
Raw emotions are nearly impossible to battle with. I think as girls we hold onto the idea of love with a grip so strong our knuckles turn white and our tired hands ache. I wanted to feel love so badly that I plunged headfirst into an emotional tidal wave and let it toss me around relentlessly. I even enjoyed it for a while, not being able to control how I felt. Now I’m trying to control it so much that the fragments of my heart are threatening to fall apart again after careful gluing. But really, I did all of this to myself. I’ve never felt that way before, and I know I can’t go back to how it was. Reality isn’t a fairytale. Our lives last longer than a 200-page novel or two-minute Taylor Swift song. We’re human, so we break down sometimes. Highlands Ranch is no Hollywood.
With society’s distorted definition of love advertised to us everywhere we look, it makes sense that we start to believe it. To love someone is to trap them in emotional chains. To be each other’s emotional life-source. To not be able to breathe without them.
For some reason, that romantic, supposedly beautiful love sounds suffocating. Where is the freedom in that?
As Lacey Sturm says in her beautiful Ted talk, love is free. I look at how Christ loves me, and I see and feel a love that is immensely startling and liberating. It’s a love that makes me want to dance on the edge of the earth and scream with all of my lung power because I am alive and free. It’s a love that celebrates my worth and allows me to take risks. It’s a love that will never run dry.
If I were to truly love someone, I would want him to be free. Free to express his own individuality and independence without feeling tangled or trapped in my heart strings. I would love him enough to let him go, if that’s what he wanted, because above all I would honor his freedom. Sure, maybe in the movies it’s more romantic to need him and have a tight grasp on him every second and want to die without him, but I don’t actually want that because that’s not respecting independence, his or my own. I can love someone, wholly and fiercely, without needing to trap him.
So yes, I still think about you because I remember how you made me feel, and I can’t erase that. I want more than anything for you to be happy and feel alive, which I’m sure you do, because that’s just who you are. I’m learning to move forward, and it feels good. I refuse to let memories and fantasies replace the reality I’m living in and make me forget what love really is: an odyssey of grace.
Jesus, I want to fall in love with you. I want to fall in love with you because I’m tired of feeling like a ghost. I want to feel life in my bones. I want to see and feel every color you created and I want to breathe deeply with my lungs of flesh. I want to fall in love with you because I’ve seen your arms open wide for me, I’ve seen you die for me, and I know this is a painful love, but so utterly real and perfect. Jesus, I trust in you now. I give you my heart. I give you everything, because I know this flesh will die and fade away, but my heart will live forever. Teach me to love you, love others, and love myself.