You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone.

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Sometimes I wish I was brave enough to erase the first four months of blog posts on this site.

I know that wouldn’t really be productive for me, and there’s not really a point either. They’re like book chapters; they document where I was, and now my new content expresses that same thing. And I think that’s important, I think we need to learn how to hold on to memories not to grasp tighter to the pain, but to remember where we’ve been and how far we’ve come. Stories to remember.

But honestly I don’t like that. I don’t like holding on to pictures or text archives from people who aren’t in my life anymore. I’m quick to delete everything the second something happens, and I’ve realized that’s counter-productive for me because in the months to come, I have nothing to look back on. Nothing to grieve.

I’m learning.

But then something happened last night, and something else happened three weeks ago, and something else happened four days ago, and all of it has come together and made me an emotional mess. Not really in a bad and obvious way, but enough that I’ve realized this is the one area in my life I haven’t found closure in, and unfortunately I’m not going to. I say that in situations and suddenly closure finds a way into my life, even if it’s years later, and it surprises me. But this is different, and I’m going to have to face this giant in a different way.

I’m not brave enough to message you over Facebook, and it’s been almost two years, and there’s really no point anymore. I didn’t see you face-to-face, but I saw the back of your head and I recognized it immediately, even after all this time. I glanced down at your hand and saw your ring too. I was surprised, I thought you’d stopped wearing it, last I checked your Instagram.

You were pounding the table with your fist, and everyone was laughing, and I could tell you were having a good time. That’s when I saw with physical eyes that you had moved on. I’d always assumed you had, but when you actually see it plastered in your face, the person you gave your heart to years ago and they’re happy, without you, it does something to you.

And what’s funny is I don’t want you back. I don’t really want to travel back in time and relive anything; they’re good memories, and you treated me so well, and for that I’m so thankful. I like looking back on those good times. But I don’t have a desire to have any of it back. I’m different now, I know you’re different too.

And yet I trembled as I walked to get my food and whispered to myself, “Don’t look over, don’t look over, don’t look over.” I didn’t want to make eye-contact with you. I texted my friends to distract me.

“He’s here.” I wrote.

“What?! How?” 

“I went to this thing tonight and I tried to sit where I wouldn’t have to look at him, but someone took the seat and now I’m sitting directly across from him at another table. There’s no way he hasn’t seen me; my hair’s curly and I walked right past him.”

Breathe, it’s okay. Just go talk to him, it’s no big deal.”

“I can’t. We never resolved anything, there’s no point.”

That’s when it hit me I broke your heart and a week after we never spoke again. That’s when it hit me we never had resolution.

Until I realized I did try to resolve things, and you shut me out, and rightfully so. Last night I was on my Mac and somehow found an archive of texts from the last week we talked before we broke up. Archives I deleted a year ago.

And then four weeks into the aftermath I sent you the longest text I’ve ever seen in my life, apologizing for everything that’d happened, and all you responded with was,

“Hey Emily, good to hear from you! I’m sorry you’ve been having some hurts. But I don’t want you to worry about me; God’s brought a lot of amazing opportunities into my life and I’ve been doing well. Hope your family is doing well too, I’m sure I’ll see you sometime.” 

I’d forgotten how angry I was when I read your response. It was cold and heartless and not the boy I’d known when we were dating. And I knew for a fact had the tables been turned and you had reached out and said the things I said to you, I wouldn’t have just flippantly shut you out the way you did me.

Maybe I shouldn’t say that, I haven’t been in your shoes and I won’t ever know what you were really thinking that night I told you what we were doing wasn’t going to work.

I just know how I felt when I saw you a few nights ago, as though I was intruding on a place you frequented and I didn’t deserve to be there. And how I felt last summer when I was in a place that frequented and felt safe, never fearing I’d run into you, and all of sudden I saw the side of your face and I couldn’t breathe, so I just kept walking and I kept my back to you the entire time.

We had both moved on, and I no longer wanted you, but the very sight of you tore me up inside.

And then there was that time I was scrolling through the website’s pictures, and suddenly there it was, plastered on the screen, almost two years after it was taken, and there’s my face. And there was you. And we were both laughing, and I was wearing the bracelet you’d given me. I had on all of my old rings. Turquoise fingernail polish. I was wearing a Hawaiian lei, and you were wearing a straw hat and giant yellow-rimmed glasses. And you can’t see your face, but you can see mine.

I’m laughing, my mouth spread wide and eyes squinted, head tilted to the side. I don’t remember what I was laughing at, but it was probably something you’d said.

Maybe it’s because I knew this couple personally, because it’s us, but I could see the sparks. I could tell we had something.

But the longer I looked at it, the more I felt disconnected. Except for thicker eyebrows and longer curly hair, I looked like me.

It was me, but not really.

It was me from a completely different era of life.

And at the time when I saw the picture, I didn’t feel awkward or sad looking at it. Most of the time when I hear what used to be “our songs”, I get nostalgic. I felt the same way about the picture. But after finding our texts combined with seeing you, I feel unsettled.

And I realize I’m still not over you.

I’m having a legitimate existential crisis now, because my life is an emulation of you. I’m the same age you were when we broke up. You taught me to love the night sky and stargazing and driving around talking and listening to good music. You were proud of your Bose subs and any bass in any song, and I was too uncultured at the time to appreciate it. You tried to make me rap to your favorite rap music but I didn’t like rap at the time. You loved Star Wars. I hated it. You would put your keys lanyard around the gear shift, and I still do it to this day. And I remember you saying you were trying to detox from the church, trying to separate God and church, God and religion, God and what everyone thought he was. You were questioning, you were angsty. But you were also fierce and adventurous, and you loved going on late-night trips and spontaneous get-togethers.

You were who I have become.

And I see you are who I still seek in someone else. The last few guys in my life have shared stronger characteristics with you than I’d like to admit. Physically and personality.

So I don’t like admitting this. But you are my person.

You are the one person I’m going to fight to get over for the rest of my life, only it’s not because I want to be back with you. It’s because of the way you made me feel. It’s how you challenged me to challenge my world and why I thought the way I did. It’s how you treated me right, and how you were full of integrity and grace. You weren’t two-faced; you were who you said you were.

You loved people to a fault, and everyone loved you, and I was always so proud to stand next to you and be known as “yours” because I was proud of the man you were. You were so young and yet I saw the potential in you, and I loved respecting you. I loved validating you.

I still remember the night you read your list to me, the list of qualities you’d always wanted in a girl, and you said it was crazy how I was fulfilling every one of them, even after only knowing each other for a month.

I still wonder if we had met two years later, if then I would have been ready for you. If maybe I would have been confident in myself, to allow myself to be loved by you and to love in return without fearing the heartbreak that could come. That I would know that heartbreak was bound to come in some way or another, but that I would care too much to let an opportunity and honor of loving your heart to pass.

I was never in love with you, and I wasn’t in love with the idea of you either. I know the difference; I know what it feels like to love the idea of someone. But I knew you, and I knew how you worked, and yet something never set right. And that’s okay, we weren’t meant to be.

But I still think about you, and I think it’s because you were the first person to chase after my heart. You were the first person I let chase my heart and capture it. 

The first time we met was February 1, my brother’s birthday. I was dragging a suitcase behind me and carrying a pillow, and my mom was with me, and we were walking through the doors to the retreat when you yelled out, “I like your hair!

And for two months I didn’t see you, until one day I was climbing the stairs and you were coming down and I heard someone say, “Hey curly-haired chick, I thought you got hit by a bus! Where’ve you been?” 

You were brave, and you weren’t ashamed to ask for my number and three days later invite me to get fro-yo and walk around the park. The same park you asked me to be your girlfriend three months later.

You brought me my favorite candy, ice cream, an iTunes gift card, and lots of cuddling when I wasn’t feeling well. You brought me roses after I had to ask you to prom because you didn’t go to a public high school. You stopped by my house after work to give me a hug, or stop in at my work to buy a shake and see how I was doing.

And I want you to know my favorite memory of you, the one I still tell people, the one that I will never forget, the one that will be one of my favorite memories of my entire life, was that night in May.

The night after prom when you thought the dance was going to be crappy and uneventful and you set up Christmas lights and candles and a table with fancy cheese and sparkling grape juice and your sound system outside on the porch so we could dance under the stars.

You loved my heart deeply and well, and you had so much love to give and wasn’t afraid to give it.

But me, I was cautious. I didn’t open up easily, and even when I did open up, I only allowed you to see parts of me. Sometimes I wish you were back in my life only to show you how far I’ve come.

But then again, I truthfully wouldn’t be who I am was it not for you. Was it not for our breakup, and meeting him, him who showed me a very different world and new music I fell in love with. Him who in his own way broke my heart but I’m standing stronger and braver because of it. And it’s weird because he and I have had more closure than you and I ever will.

There was a night he played a song that sounded familiar, and I realized you’d played it for me before. It was the evening of our first official date, and we were on the highway, and you were telling me how amazing it was we were on our own. We didn’t have the word for it at the time, but we were infinite.

And I remember not really liking the song, I was sort of mellow about it. But there’s a thirty-second moment in the middle of the song that softly plays the lead guitar riff to my favorite song in the world, and I wonder if somehow, you were a foreshadow for my life. That in the faded distance, there was something more waiting for me to grasp, but in that time being, you were what I needed. We weren’t an atomic bomb but we were ticking and brief. Yet in the midst of that never lost our eager eyes for a hopeful tomorrow. 

You were not a mistake or an accident or a regret. I want you to know that. And I want you to know if I could ever say something to you ever again, it would be I’m sorry I broke up with you on your birthday. That’s a regret I will carry with me for the rest of my life, and you deserved more than that. You deserved someone who was going to be stable on her feet and believe in herself before finding her validation in you.

I hope you’ve found that. I hope if you’ve found a girl again, that your cologne has become the most comforting smell in the world to her and your soft kisses on her cheek make her feel like the most loved woman in the universe. I hope she sees your value and supports you as you struggle. I hope she values how hard you work and pour yourself into things and people. I hope she is independent enough to not have to rely on you for emotional support; rather, she is strong and confident and beautifully fierce.

I hope your dreams of speaking have been fulfilled, and I hope your friendships have prospered over the years, and that you’ve found people who love who you are and where you are in life.

I want you to know I’m okay too. I’ve been okay for a while now. I’ve fought to move on, to not hold on to the past but to let go. But there was just some unsaid things on my heart that I know you’ll never hear, but I needed to get them off my chest, and I need to let go. Completely. Once and for all.

How poetic, that after exactly two years, I’ve finally reached that point.

And somehow I feel lighter and free already.

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4 thoughts on “You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone.

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