Because the wind is high, it blows my mind. — John Lennon
Some days the whole world reminds me of you. Of your wisps of dirty blonde hair hanging below your cheek bones. Of your emerald eyes, deep and intense. Of the fierce innocence of our adolescent passion, so full of hope and newness and everything wonderful. Except when it wasn’t. Because you and I sprouted from the junkyard of broken homes and broken dreams, born to parents who preferred the liquor bottle over their children.
You were pretty cute that day after drama class in your baggy jeans and sleeveless flannel shirt. Introduced by a friend and note with your phone number–The catalyst to a high school life of never having to be alone. Two souls began weaving together, ripe with firsts and fantasies of limitless futures. Freshmen, at the crux of feeling alive and free. You were going to be a musician. Afternoons of homework and dancing to Jane’s Addiction. Our sides hurt from laughing. You started a band. Called yourselves, Mass Denial. I bought you green tights to wear under your ripped jeans. You looked so cool on stage, reminded me of Kurt Cobain.
You told me you loved me. I still think about our secret New Your City, roof top oasis. I followed you up many outdoor flights of stairs until my thighs ached to see a city I lived in my entire life and never knew to be so beautiful. Sparkling and twinkling far below, cut by the black calmness of the bay. The salty spring evening air dancing in our hair. I still feel your arms around me, see the warmth in your smile, the sincerity in your eyes. You lifted my chin and said, “I’m going to marry you one day.”
“I know” I smiled. Teased you. Turned my attention back to the lights.
You grabbed me from behind. Pulled me close. I can feel your lips on my neck. The warmth of desire radiating through my body.
Our blood continued to pump shared dreams of happily ever after, until it didn’t, because sixteen years wasn’t long enough to learn how to be in a relationship. Gravity of inexperience pulled us down and we began teetering on us and I. Important classes in trust, compassion and compromise aren’t on the schedule when you attend the school of divorced parents. So we began to fight, and compare and realize that our relationship couldn’t provide the experiences our young souls needed to grow and flourish. I broke first. You passed me a note.
Remember you have someone who loves you. You are in better shape than I am. At least you have someone telling you I love you! I need you! Please take me back. No one tells me they love me. Please don’t push me away.
But I kept pushing. I couldn’t hear those words. Pushed you out to make room for college and new friends and the mysterious excitement headed my way.
You dated a new girl who was a year older and prettier than me. I hated her. Someone at school told me you were in a car crash. That you flew through the windshield of your friend’s car and underwent brain surgery. Worried and afraid, I called your hospital room but your girlfriend hung up on me. Several months passed before you called back. Told me you were single. That you made a full recovery and a psychic told you to change your ways or your wouldn’t live to see thirty. We tried to remain friends and keep a tight lid on our boiling pot of what once was.
Tethered together by infinite love our lives moved in opposite directions. Me to college and you to Walls Street for a short while. Five years after our relationship began, we met one last time, as friends–the false label we stuck on ourselves. Friendship seemed miles away after traveling so far, so fast. We rode the ferry into the city–ended up at a comedy club that never asked for I.D. That night you drank enough to scare me. You pushed me into the night. Holding on to anger from months past when I made out with your friend after we broke up. I explained that I was high, my seventeen-year-old boundaries were blurred –I felt awful for what I’d done. You didn’t want to hear it and left me to find my way home. I waited a long time for the subway, ruminating in the heavy, dank smell of urine and metal. Occasional footsteps echoed loud inside the empty station and I watched for your black combat boots to walk down the stairs. They never did. I arrived at the ferry terminal at 2am hoping you were just behind me. That I wouldn’t have to ride without you in the cold, dark night. You called a few days later–asked , “What happened?” Acted too drunk to remember. I just started therapy and wanted a better life. That was our last phone call.
I spent my twenties flying close to the flames. Determined to rise above the evils in the world and their attempts to bring me down. I thought about you on occasion. Fumbling through relationships chasing shadows of dreams we created together. I searched in men’s eyes for the open window into their souls .The one that you opened for me many years ago, you lit a fire. Kept me warm inside. Their windows were drawn shut–so I moved on. Years passed like pages of a book blown open by the wind. From time-to-time it stopped on a chapter that reminded me of you. Fifteen years later, social media was born and I searched for you. Searched for confirmation you were doing fine. I hoped to see you living your dreams, but you weren’t on Face Book. I should have known, you were always the non-conformist.
I created a dream board. Plastered it with words and images of the story I yearned to live. Eventually, my board came alive and one by one, my visions turned to fruition: career, creativity, family, abundance–flowing through my world. I felt alive. One day I searched for you and finally, your profile appeared and there you were, just as I remembered – handsome and free. It said you were thirty-two, a poet, graduate of Naropa University living in San Francisco, happy. The psychic was wrong. An attractive, tattoo-clad lady by your side. Our tether stretched far, my joy and happiness for you ran across our invisible line. My love had no jealousy. My anger released. You accepted my friend request and I thought of messaging you, but didn’t. The words that came to mind were boring–far from the passionate letters we exchanged years earlier. You had a girlfriend. I had a family. If the window were opened, I feared losing everything I worked so hard to create. Life finally taught me boundaries.
Several months passed. I checked in after the new year to see your face and read messages from your eclectic, creative-type friends that I wish I knew. The first post read, “RIP my friend.”
My fingers trembled as I typed to a person I didn’t know. He wrote back. Told me you jumped from his twelfth story balcony. Committed suicide on New Year’s Day, 2012. You suffered from depression and opiate withdrawals. That you were in a drug addicted relationship with your girlfriend and her pain medication. You left her sleeping with two pills on the table before you leapt.
My heart broken open, gushing. The world spinning out of control, then slowed as my body grew cold and numb. My tether hanging in the abyss. Alone with my pain. Guilty for being married and devastated by the loss of love from long ago.
Time moved on and so did life. I look forward to your occasional visits in my dreams. We never speak. You come to me and we embrace. Consumed by whirling, swirling energy, and for a little while my soul dances again. Sometimes I read your letters. All thirty of them I saved from high school. Some of them smell sweet like candy from the soap you bought me that I keep in the same box. I take out the necklace you wore on stage and hold its silver, tribal sun in my hand. And there you are with me. Just for a little while. I recently sorted through those letters. Found an unopened envelope with your name and a date: April, 1993. I carefully peeled the dry yellowing tape uncertain of what I would find. I lifted the flap and shivered as I peered inside. It held a lock of your hair. It was blonde and beautiful and dry like death. A shadow of what once was. I clutched your hair and cried. I returned it to the envelope, sealed it with a fresh piece of tape, then tucked it away along with your note:
I hope you remember everything between us. I’ll always remember falling in love with you. Maybe our time will come again. I saw everything in your beautiful eyes. Real love never dies, it just hides away for a while. I’ll remember you for the rest of my life.
They say there are lessons everywhere if you look for them. Through you I learned to love without limits, to live without regret, and the profound power of dreams. My junkyard is a beautiful meadow lush and alive with colorful flowers of possibility. Even if we weren’t meant to spend this life together, I’d always hoped you’d grow a garden of your own. I wish you happiness wherever you are and envision you flying free above the perils of addiction, broken homes and broken dreams. My dream board hangs on my wall–I wrote your name on it.
Note: This piece was originally published by June by The Grief Diaries.