Click. Next. Click. Back. Scroll.
Why am I doing this to myself?
Scrolling through his Facebook that’s been frozen in time. Like he never left.
Click. Us in the Colosseum. Next. Click. Us in Venice. Kissing. Laughing. Hugging. Next. Click. Us in Paris.
Paris. Us. In Paris. The Eiffel Tower. The proposal… That’s another story for another day. Click. Exit.
That was pure torture. Looking through what used to be, what could’ve been. I successfully appease my inner masochist, or so I thought. I’m trying to find my silence but that inner masochist of mine keeps pushing images of Paris to the forefront. The little bitch. Paris. It wasn’t the first time he proposed to me. Just the first time I said yes.
Eight and a half years ago sitting behind me in English 2 Honors, at Wharton High School in Tampa, Fl, is the boy that would become my first love; my only love. I didn’t know it then or for years after. He joked with the guys next to me. They all laughed. What was the joke? Who cares? I thought. Be social. Fit in. I laughed too. And so it started. Passing notes. Joking. Laughing. I received my first C that semester. How’d that happen? I love reading and writing! That should’ve been the first sign; he has the power to consume my attention, my mind, and my life should I let him in. But would it have stopped me? Probably not. I probably would have given in sooner, chasing that all consuming love we only find in books and movies.
At least in my ignorance we found friendship. A solid friendship. Wharton High was the 9th school I attended since kindergarten. I’d moved around and gained and lost more friends than I care to count. So when my mom decided to move again to Clearwater I was already at peace with losing yet another set of friends. It was the story of my life. So the last time I hung out with him I knew the drill. We’d hug each other tight and I’d promise to stay in touch no matter what, a promise I’d given to many before, though I knew we wouldn’t. Sure we’d talk for a couple of weeks. The calls would become less and less frequent before they stop altogether. I didn’t do it purposely but had I a five minute conversation with every recipient of that promise there wouldn’t be enough hours in the day. He must’ve saw through my bogus promise. The lie must’ve flickered in my eyes because he took off a delicate gold chain with a solid gold cross and put it around my neck. He knew I wouldn’t accept it. “Well, now you have to see me again,” he said “to give me back my chain.” I felt giddy but full of apprehension that our friendship could possibly hold such permanence.
He never called. Neither did I. It’s not that I didn’t care, it’s just… why open myself up more to someone who would cease to exist when the calls stopped coming. And they would eventually stop coming. Better sooner rather than later. I had bigger fish to fry. Adapting to yet another school. Being social. Fitting in.
I still hung out in Tampa from time to time with cousins who still lived there and friends we shared. A year after I moved away, I was driving around with a friend and she asked if I still spoke to him. She said they were close friends now. On a whim I said let’s go visit him! I touched the gold chain that had never left my neck. Sweet. Finally a promise I can make good on.
I rang the doorbell, his mom answered and I waited while she went to fetch him. I saw the surprise flash across his face and he hugged me tight, lifting me off my feet. I felt tears coating my cheeks. Did I miss him that much? I showed him the chain that still hung around my neck. I didn’t know it until that moment but I didn’t want to give it back. Don’t ask for it back. Don’t ask for it back. I repeated it in my head over and over. He didn’t. We exchanged quick hellos, and miss yous, and goodbyes before I had to go. Again, we didn’t stay in touch but I kept the memory of our last encounter close by should I need the comfort of an old friend.
When I moved back to Tampa after graduating high school I was surprised to see him at a small get-together my cousin was throwing. I walked up to him and didn’t even say a word. I just held up the same gold cross that never left my neck. We fell into the same tight embraced we shared just 8 months before.
“I thought you would’ve sold that for gas money by now.” He pointed to the chain.
“If I had a car I would’ve.” I joked.
We were inseparable the weeks following, our friendship turning into something more after a shared kiss one drunken night. We spent almost everyday together knowing the universe would once again put distance between us. I was starting college and he was leaving for the Army. For the first time in my life I was the one being left behind. So this is how it feels. We hugged tight. We cried. He made promises to stay in touch no matter what. A promise I’d made and broken many times before. I knew the drill. I knew the ease with which such a promise flows of the tongue. I also knew how easy it is to break it.
I must’ve just been a colossal bitch back in my day because he had no problem at all keeping the promise. We talked everyday for weeks. For months. I was fast falling in love with a guy 100s of miles away. “We don’t have to be,” he’d said, “let’s get married!”
Stop! What am I doing? Why am I reliving it all? Why put myself through that torture? Oh yeah, my inner masochist. Are you pacified now?
In the past year and a half I’ve learned to stop needing him but I never learned to stop wanting him. Will I ever learn?
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