These days I’m haunted by a memory of being 18 and a parking lot and more tears than I knew were possible.
It was summer in Virginia which brings the kind of heat you can see rising off the roads, where moving around seems like something you’ll get to eventually – just not right then. The air is too thick to do anything quickly, and there’s a smell – languid, balmy, hot.
I picked him up to say anything but the one word we both needed to say. We did the same thing we always did in those days – visited people we both knew, said hello, drank coffees, watched a random stranger’s dog while she got her coffee, talked about future babies, thought about popsicles, listened to mix cds.
We got back in the car.
He had a present for me.
Hands shaking, I took away the wrappings. Was I crying already? I might have been.
Reading the note he’d written me felt like falling apart. The sweetest words anyone has ever written me. So earnest, so honest. I remember wondering if I really needed to leave, if college was really so important, if another year would really hurt anything.
I remember his eyes – so full, so wide and round, overflowing. And then we were both crying, and not wanting to let go.
The Weakerthans played a song I’ve since tried to give away to everyone I know but it’s still me, mine, all mine.
We stopped crying. I took him home. I drove home through a torrential downpour from my own eyes.
He and I have met again few times since that day. The time between meetings has gotten further apart as time passes. His eyes are still wide and full, but tired now. I wonder if he ever thinks of me and know certainly that sometimes I must cross his mind, idly, while reading the live feed.
I pass that parking lot every day when I drive to work. Most days the memory comes back to me. Him and me, in chuck taylors, loving eachother fiercely but not being in love. We walked together through the halls of that high school, holding on for dear life, teachers giving us those knowing smiles, us smiling back knowing they had it all wrong.
We borrowed words from eachother, words that echo in my mind sometimes at random intervals, but mostly when I pass that parking lot.
It’s because I think if I had said, “I love you more than words” your response would have been “I love words more than you” – him
I thought of him last night, as I drove home, tears I swore I wouldn’t cry streaming down my face. I passed our parking lot and turned on the Weakerthans. These days I’m always the one who’s left and someone else is doing all the leaving.
Goodbyes are always hard on me, even if they are just “see you laters.” Another friend, off on a new adventure. I’ll miss her dearly, especially on idle Sunday afternoons, best spent in the Temple visitors center, going over the “but”s and “what-if”s, remembering what’s truly important. And I know that distance has never been less distant than now but the ache is the same via wifi and 3G as it is on paper and road maps.
Some days I feel like my heart is spread all across this country. And then I imagine the epic road trip it would take to pick up all the pieces.