"And sometimes remembering will lead to a story, which makes it forever. That's what stories are for. Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can't remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing left to remember except the story."
Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried
...and i recognize what it means to be broken into pieces; and the wood is hard against my back and the tears are hot on my face and i swallow my shame and i talk to him. and he talks back, and he tells me that i should be proud of who i am, and if he had known that so many years from now i'd still remember what he said, i think he might've had a little more to give me. but knowing the future would have defeated the purpose; i was so young and he was so beautiful and i was so impressionable and he was so ready to impress. we played our roles perfectly.
...and she said to this group of girls that i was in, she said "God is our glue" and i figured they'd last forever. and she said she wasn't worried about this unnamed boy that was coming to her house for the summer that she's liked in the past and i believed her because she was so damn perfect, you'd never believe how i thought of this girl, like she created the whole world. and then that summer i saw they had split up and then i saw she was with that unnamed boy and a little piece of me died to the martyrdom of reality and passed on from that young age of innocence. and i used that phrase- "God is our glue"- at a chastity talk i gave with my boyfriend the other day because i don't think she does anymore and she wouldn't mind if i borrowed it.
...and he tells me he's glad i didn't die all that time ago and he even writes me a song about it and to my 15 year old self that seems amazingly profound, and maybe it means more because i'm not accustomed to the idea of people giving a shit and it's kind of a new concept to me. so his love, as adolescent as it may be, is the center of my entire world and i give and give and give and one day the whole perfect thing shatters, it all just comes crashing down and i had no idea the supports were ever wavering, and for months and months i am hurt.
...and i tell her that it's okay if she loves him because i'm done with that, i'm over that, even though i'm not at all for most days, even though i have my moments of strength when i tell myself that i am wonderful now and the even rarer moments when i actually am and no convincing is required. but the majority of my time is spent writing letters to a makebelieve lover and cancelling imaginary wedding plans and learning how to breathe on my own again.
...and i learn how to really write- like, really fucking write- and that doesn't go over too well because it reminds me of the place that hurt, and i establish a vague sort of bitterness that seeps into my words and makes me every bit as toxic as i've ever really been capable of being. and i keep looking in the mirror and i keep picking myself apart and hating myself because i don't look like the girls at cherry grove and that's a huge personal failure, and personal failure is my specialty, so i edit pictures half to fucking death and i pretend that i understand the basics of being lovely, even when i am so far from the truth i couldn't see it with 20/20 vision and a telescope.
...and i learn that the only thing that can replace love is love, and i am so in love that it's incredible and i am also so fucked over it's equally incredible and i cannot reconcile the two so i run away to mountains and try to forget my name and his name and her name and my unalterable mistake. and i try to rediscover myself, but he is in me deep and deep and deep and i cannot remember myself without remembering him, so i try to give up remembering at all. and it doesn't work, unsurprisingly, so i go back to trying to be myself without half of the person i have become, but i am so severed in two and so incomplete that people start to notice. when they ask me what's wrong, i don't know what to say.
...and i tell him to describe himself in one word, and he asks me for three, and i give it to him because i think they may be the three most important words i will ever hear and they carry through forever, forever. and long after i have forgotten the words- long past the point of remembering the relatively trivial- he is still here, and there are three new words that i know. maybe one day i will forget those but they are burned into my skin forever and forever and the memory is lost, but the feel remains the same.
...and then i get all the things i've ever wanted, but there is such a price to it that i stop to really ask myself if it's worth it. and it is, it is, so much more worth it than anything else in the entire world, so i accept the oppotunity cost and i am torn to pieces. i experience more love and more hate in a month than i've had my whole life and it drown me in both ways, it drowns me and drowns me and i choke and choke and it is the most beautiful death in the world. he is the most beautiful thing in the world.
...and i am fragmented, but i am pulled back together in such a way that it makes me new. and i write the most epic piece of my life and only one person has anything to say about it and my best friend tells me that it matters not because of what is written but because of what it means to me, and if half of my goals are accomplished than i guess it's a success. but i learn in the process that all of the epicness is just a word we use to describe something that has personal meaning without the necessary obligation of being relateable. and we make camps and we stake claims to pieces of lives and hearts, and i am gathered up in the looks and the words and the touches and the promises.
...and i give it up, i give it up and up and up until it gets to whoever's upstairs and just like that things are better, and i am happy and pretty and maybe even a little bit accomplished. and there's a strange sort of encounter that i can only assume is an answer to a prayer, and i tell him about it and he's happy for me and i am happy for me and i am happy for this, this thing right here and right now that i am living and who could have ever known that one person could hold so much joy? so we work at it because it's never perfect but at the same time it is, it totally is, it's so perfect i wouldn't change a thing and the way that he looks at me lets me know that yes this is it this is it this is what you have been waiting for your whole life yes you are the one for me. yes you are the one. yes you. and yes you are perfect. and yes i love you. and yes when i look at you it makes the whole world make sense and yes i am going to take care of you and yes i love you. i love you i love you i love you. and just like that it becomes more than a story, it becomes a journey and an accomplishment and a lifestyle and a love and just like that it is so much more than enough. it is perfect.
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