Advice, op-eds, and everything else you probably subscribe for will return soon. Thank you for bearing with me during this writing drought.
Three times if you include the person you used as a canvas to project what you thought love was after a particularly difficult break-up right before college. But now that you’re older and more experienced, you accept that it wasn’t love. It was just a rite of passage.
You imagine your two loves—the One Who Got Away, and the person you’re currently seeing—like the centers of two spider webs.
Everything else in your life would get stuck in the web at the time, but now that it’s no longer being built, it feels fragile and easy to brush away. This has made you protective of it.
You’re worried that one day it’ll be gone forever.
Despite being firmly rooted in the present tense, you often drift back to the liminal space around the One Who Got Away, as is so often the case with love snuffed out before its time.
Before you fall asleep at night, you rebuild the scene in your mind.
You remember the couch you two sat on. The apartment you were living in. The songs on the radio. The way the air smelled. What it looked like outside your window. What was making you anxious. How you felt in your body.
You re-write your memory. You try to appreciate being there more, especially knowing what you know now, that there would be no infinity of next times, no fluid movement, just a hard stop one day.
You visit your memories as often as you can, but each time you’re there, you realize something’s missing. The lighting becomes darker. Or maybe you can’t quite picture their face in the same way you could the night before.
Or maybe you just long for something more, something inaccessible, because you can’t go further than you originally went. You can re-write the scene however many ways or however many times you want, but you can’t build out further than the restaurant, the apartment, the sidewalk, the park, the street corner. You don’t know anything more than you already know.
Sometimes you try to create a real life avatar so these feelings can live somewhere outside of you.
You don’t look for shades of them in your current partner, but you look for shades of them in yourself. In things you can consume, you can do.
You paint your kitchen a different color to evoke their spirit. You make an altar in your room. You watch movies that remind you of them. Listen to music you imagine they’d like. Read books you imagine they’re a character in.
You try to become more like them, little-by-little.
Maybe this will keep them alive.