Firsts

“It is such a mysterious place, the land of tears.”- the little prince

My heart is in my throat as I wake up from a pool of cold sweat. I dreamt of trying to find you when you wandered into the adjacent. The gravel beneath my feet feels like heavy sand, and the first stars are appearing in the valley. I stand at the end of the drive way in the time stopped stillness of the moment and take a deep breath as I realized I’ve gone to look for you at the wrong house.

Suddenly you appear. Everything happens at light speed.

We are shrieking with laughter and our bodies were shaking. We are at one point the same height in each other’s arms. Your neck smells like clean sweat, heavy with you. I hadn’t seen your face in over a year. I don’t really know what you look like anymore. You’re wearing a black hat, with bracelets at your wrists. We’re staring at each wide eyed and a little shell shocked, laughing with nerves.

You and me.

We were only ideas of us before. A teacher I met on Instagram who made me hold my breath late at night as I listened intently to his voice over my phone. I am a simple girl from California with a little camera and a penchant for words. These were moments of extreme lightness, the story of two people continents away.

You pulled my head into your reality. The voice on the phone telling me you enjoyed talking to me live rather than texting. I paced around the house trying to drop my voice just a pitch and a half because I was worried I’d wake the neighbors.

But I was afraid you’d be like my other dream, where you dissolved in the morning. The one where you wake up and half-remember. I am looking for you through a relentless search, except I couldn’t find you. Other men have appeared, I was drinking and lonely. Disoriented and scared. My mannerisms made me stammer my way through timezones and explanations of kumquats and the countryside life. I imagined you in my future life a little but I was a timid kitten in the woods and didn’t know the impact of the realization it had on you. I held still and waited, but you were already gone.

I had always wanted to love. I never craved for passionate kisses, presents or fancy dinners. I wanted to be the only one to have a key that could unlock someone, so that their soul came spilling out, perhaps someone as lost and spirited and wondering as I am.

A soulmate.

“You see, one loves the sunset when one is so sad.” 

Someone to pour my life into, to mold together with. We’d be the torrent river on the way to the wild sea. Full of rainwater and brightly colored pebbles all worn and smooth from the passing of time. Something the world had never seen before, and perhaps, maybe never see again.

But i was always wrong for you, while I worried that for you I had been far too much, or maybe far too little. The realization made me feel devoid of all else. My brightly colored version of love did not fill your empty spaces. Maybe for me it was a sad tale that happens to far too many – without nurturing you, you turned inward. I am always on the lookout for something meaningful to quench that aching thirst for connection. I prayed that i could be different, for you, though mostly I felt that my efforts had been a failure before it really began, that balmy May night. I couldn’t be sure that you’d turn the tides the other way and I thought maybe you’d fight a little harder for me. That you thought the exact same of me as I thought of you.

I think I knew more about you than you realized.

You never revealed anything. You were nowhere to be found. There were small clues along the way if I looked keenly enough. A hint that something was wrong; the vagueness of a certain June weekend. Something troubling you at a place where no one would catch sight of.

You were like some kind of fortress, your emotions indiscernible, your true feelings hidden just past where I could see them in the fall and rise of your chest.

It had been a secret pride of mine- the ability to read an emotional landscape like it was a vast expressionist painting, every stroke of the brush and where it came from visible to the eye.

But it wasn’t that way with you. Everything was carefully organized and tucked away. When I reached in your direction the space was grey and shrouded in certainty. Your face was unreadable. Your brown eyes huge and unfathomable. What you thought as you watched me fumble through making you tea and I lost track of what I could possibly say, it was all mystery. You were a mystery. You were made of walls. A maze of dark heavy stones that towered high above my head and out of sight. There were no doors, there were no windows. No signposts, no hints.

The only way in was to go in at the very start and work my way through to your brain, path by path right in the thick of the endless dead-ends. But at times the ground was very hard and if I looked very sharply in the dim light I could follow where you had once been, the mark of your shoes on the interior of your world. A world that you kept separate when there were others involved.

A girl and her many tattoos. A beautiful young woman with hair like the sun. Chasing you. Protecting you. Understanding you through the epic frontier of Alaska.

We were a relationship that hadn’t quite made it. As everyone bears a thorn in their heart at times, there was an idea of hope that fell to the ground in torn paper wings. A hurt that may take a long time to go away. I knew the feeling from both sides, especially when forever turns out to be a lot shorter than you thought it would. It wakes you up in the middle of the night while you blink back tears remembering the sweetness that turned bitter. Wasn’t this love? If it wasn’t, what did I do wrong? Why were you conflicted? How did we lose? 

Perhaps the love we had, you were cautious to begin. It was me, maybe. I was the girl everyone claimed was made of syrup, sunshine and smiles. The girl always reaching for your hands, laughing and laughing. My life, wholesome and bright, with the scent of toasted marshmallows.

That was how I lost you. In that long June night, I left my glasses on the bed post and began to cry, petrified at the sudden loss. A head rush of knowledge that this, the romance felt by strangers in Bangkok, was over.

Your river begins to flow. You’re free.