Salty Lips

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic

It is suggested that the volatility of a moment is a source of its beauty and perhaps it is true. Acknowledging this fact, however, does not make it easier to let things go when we know we must. My life in a way is a story of longing. Do not get me wrong, I love novelty, like all of us, but at the same time, we all sometimes find ourselves lacking a taste of familiarity.

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Even the happy tears have a salty taste. Wislawa Szymborska in her poem “Nothing Twice” writes:

“Why do we treat the fleeting day
with so much needless fear and sorrow?
It's in its nature not to stay:
Today is always gone tomorrow”
~ (Wislawa Szymborska, 20).


In the poem, it is suggested that the volatility of a moment is a source of its beauty and perhaps it is true. Acknowledging this fact, however, does not make it easier to let things go when we know we must. My life in a way is a story of longing. Do not get me wrong, I love novelty, like all of us, but at the same time, we all sometimes find ourselves lacking a taste of familiarity. I am sure you have noticed by now, beginnings are difficult and scary, and so leaving behind “the familiar” is harder than one might think.

The first time I experienced such fear was when I was ten and we moved to a city seven hours away from my hometown. I knew very well that it was the end of all my friendships and relationships whether I wanted it or not. I remember the first day at a new school, which seemed to me surreal as it was so different from what I knew. Back then I was just angry, blaming parents who had decided to move. I have not yet experienced what it means to miss something in a way that tears your heart apart and have nobody to blame.

It happened a few years later, on Malta, when I was an intern surrounded by the pleasant smell of the sea and fourteen other students who, with time, became my family. I used to live in a small grey room with four girls, rusty iron and few spiders hidden under our beds. It was quite crowded, and the room’s equipment was long past its golden years, but it had a balcony with a view on the endless sea.

Once, I and my roommate woke up at 5 am to drink a cup of tea on that balcony before the shift. The mangopeach tea was too hot to drink, but we did not mind as we were too busy admiring orange-grey sunset. The smell of the tea melted with the morning air and convinced our lips to smile. We hugged our sweaters to hide from the morning cold and talked wordlessly about nothing and everything. Back then, it crossed my mind that this morning will be my most vivid memory from my internship, but it was not.

Instead, it was an evening when I stood in front of the reception desk in my pyjamas. I was tired after a long shift, I had no makeup, my hair was a mess, and my face was filled with concern.

“I barely pulled that flush, I swear. And now it just swings, back and forth… broken…” I said dramatically as I was worried that my mistake might result in losing the room’s deposit.

The receptionist behind the desk looked at me with his shining eyes and started laughing.

“You have nothing to worry about, you are not the first or the last person,” he said and pointed out at the big pile of forms on the corner of the desk.

I smiled back and noticed that the boy in front of me looked as if he was a born from a ray of sunshine, with his tall posture, curly blond hair, green sparkling eyes and the smile that could easily burn the snow 5 away. We talked for a long time and I could not help the feeling that I could tell him anything, that he would consume my worries and made them disappear as if they were never there. As our shifts were at different times, we used to meet at night, on the back of a hotel and sit at the stone stairs leading to the deep sea.

When I think about it now, I do not remember what we talked about exactly, all I remember was the feeling that finally, somebody understood me. I still can recall the sound of the sea, mixed with his calm voice and smell that made me feel safe. I still see the bright moon that seemed to watch us when our souls danced English Waltz together.

One day I felt sick and as I walked to my room, I met him in the corridor. He saw me only for a second, but I noticed how his eyes filled with worry and care. A few hours later, during his short break in-between his shift, he came to my room holding sweets and snacks in his arms.

“Why did you come? You should be eating lunch,” I said.

“Well we both know that this food sucks,” he replied, “besides, you shouldn’t be alone when you are sick.”

I remember my heart filling with a warmth so sincere that I could not grasp it all. The same warmth overtook my heart when we sat in the lobby and heard the song “I can’t help falling in love” by Elvis Presley. And then again, when I sat on the roof, hidden in his jacket so that we could watch the stairs disappear at 4 a.m. And when we drank cheap white wine and shared our deepest, darkest secrets. At the same time, I ignored that feeling, as I knew that he was from a different country and we weren’t meant to be.

I am saying all of this to make you understand how I felt as I sat in the bus destined to go back home. My hands trembled, my cheeks burned from tears and my heart felt as if it broke into tiny pieces. This one month on Malta was the happiest time of my life and I had to close my eyes as I could watch it fade away. I do not remember the flight and the ride home. I was angry at my mother who drove me home, for no apparent reason. I think it was because I just wanted all of it back and I knew I could not. When I came back home to the grey reality, everything just felt helpless, shapeless, and pointless.

I thought it was the end of our story, but it was not. We skyped every night. Not being around each other was difficult, but it was easier than letting each other go. I experienced the real longing for the first time in my life and it felt as if burning coal fall into my heart. Every other day of waiting was as if the wind blew on the same coal making it burn more with every second. As Mark still had a little under three months of internship, we could not meet for 86 days.

When he finally came, it was the coldest winter I have ever seen, but despite that fact, it was the warmest my heart had ever felt, my days were overwhelmingly filled with his presence. And when he left the emptiness surrounding me had never felt so hollow. When we were together, in his presence I would sometimes cry, as I was too happy to describe it with words. At the same time, I kept in mind the taste of the salt on my lips, reminding me that he will have to go. But I did not mind, if that is the price I need to pay for sweetness in my heart, I'd gladly bury myself in salt.


Submitted: September 27, 2021

© Copyright 2021 n.j.fulminare. All rights reserved.

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