There’s always that one song, or that one place, or maybe even that one phrase that brings back a rush of memories that pertain to a singular person or event. When you remember, suddenly – despite the shuffle function, your playlist starts an endless string of sad and sentimental songs. That place you used to hang around a lot? Still feels empty even if it was filled to the brim with people. And now a casual use of that phrase rips you apart little by little, every time you read it from a book, hear it from a friend, or use it in a write-up.
You don’t have control over these pictures in your head – when they start playing, they’re running with a mind of their own. That first meeting. Those tense first moments that you don’t know each other yet. Finally getting comfortable in each other’s company. That active unconscious habit of looking for them – only to end up in each other’s worlds with the simple animal warmth of them nearby as you scroll past your News Feed or as you do your homework. The little realities they make romantic comedies and books out of.
Let’s be real – the best memories are not the grand gestures with elaborate plans. It’s the mundane and comforting feeling when you know you have each other’s back when you need to. Yes, the occasional spoken acknowledgement sounds sweet, but sweeter are the utterances that insinuate that they care about your well-being – “Are you okay?” “How was your day?” “Eat.” “Be careful.” “Your laces are untied.” “You got something on your face.” “Don’t do that!” “You’re an idiot.”
Later it gets personal. Suddenly the moments between just you too are vividly repeating itself in your head. Shadows of the marshmallows in your heart, flight on your chest and the butterflies in your stomach start blooming inside like a little flower saying hello to the world for the very first time. That feeling when the two protagonists finally act on their mutual feelings? That.
Now they’ve turned into a black and white talkie film. You can still hear the dialogue, but you don’t feel the sincerity of it. The words invariably sound scripted, too grandiose to be true, and then you realize that too much has been said and lesser meant. Suddenly, the picture of the both of you is blurring into the background. The worlds are muffled. Silent noise gets louder. You see yourself more as a distant viewer than as part of the picture. The grand scheme of what could’ve been the perfect happy story has no sudden blow for it to crumble. Instead, the feelings dull. The realities fade. The color’s gone – and so is the relationship.
Things don’t have to end with a great fight, a lie told or a secret kept. Some things end openly. A paradoxical climax. A finish that refuses to come to light. A song or film you don’t want to end. A goodbye that you don’t want to say. It it the openness that kills you. The ‘what if’s’ that keep you up at night. The ‘maybe’s’ that ‘couldn’t be’s’ that plague your waking moments.
And that comes back over, and over again. It is what kills me every day.