This is how you remind me of what I really am.


Every story has two sides. This is mine.

On July 4 I wrote about memories, and about the first love of my life (“Why, everything’s as if we never said goodbye…”).  That same day, I wrote said love a Facebook message (ahh, social stalking networking) and sent a friend request in hopes that we could, once again, reconnect.

September 2 marked ten years since the day we started dating — a generation ago, really — and this year, as I have done every year on that day, I sent a quiet and heartfelt thought out in hopes that it would reach him and for a moment, he would remember. (He’s always been better at remembering good things than bad, so I wasn’t just shooting in the dark.) Even after eight years apart and only a handful of visits in that time, I’ve always had a special place in my heart for him and though my attempt to reach out had been overlooked I never stopped wanting him to be happy.

Things happen as they’re meant.

I firmly believe that we weren’t meant to talk during the summer, or to reconnect before he saw my message on 10/10. He did see it, though, and before I made it home from Kentucky we had already started talking over the phone. By the end of the night, we made plans to get together the next evening.

I don’t know what I expected, or what I wanted to happen when I saw him again. All I knew was that it was like looking into one of those mirrors in a carnival fun house — not that he’s distorted physically, but that there in front of me was a boy I knew so well, loved so deeply, changed distinctly yet almost imperceptibly into the man who developed over the last eight years. The last three years since I’ve seen him really haven’t wrought many of those changes, so I can claim some familiarity with what I could see behind the green eyes (oh, his eyes…) looking down at me; still, it would have been foolish to assume that we could (or would, or should) fall back into all of the patterns we used to have.

And we haven’t. We had comfortable conversation, caught up on some things that had changed in the time since we last saw each other, and decided to go out for ice cream (okay, so some things don’t change). More of the same followed, except while at Friendly’s — one thing I definitely miss about home — we got to talk to his youngest sister, who works there. I’ve always considered her my own honorary little sister, so when she invited us back to her place to hang out I was all for it.

We all had a good time, and I stayed until 3 am (on a work night, no less). I meant to leave at 2:30, but something about porch steps and my coordination in the middle of the night created a beautiful disaster (and a twisted ankle). I was touched at his concern, that he waited until he knew I wasn’t seriously injured before laughing, and that he even iced it for me before I left for home. When he kissed me goodnight he said that he hoped I wouldn’t stop talking to him, and that I would come down to see him the following weekend.

Two weekends have passed since then, both of which I’ve spent back in the places I remember so well. There is always some concern about going back to the beginning — is it a true step backward or are there new lessons to learn that will ultimately lead me forward? It’s too early to tell; all I know for sure at this point is that while the characters are the same, the script has definitely changed…and we are each discovering the other all over again.

Friday was a particular eye-opener for me. When I arrived, I said I wanted to take a walk; I didn’t expect him to agree, given that he walks just about everywhere, but it was a beautiful afternoon and he said yes. So we walked the streets of his neighborhood, a place where I trick-or-treated as a little girl, a historic section of the city where it’s easy to pass hours marveling at the architecture of some of the old houses. I stopped a few times to admire balconies and doorway arches, pointing this feature and that out to him as things that my dream home would contain. I’ve grown accustomed to being ignored when I start rambling in that manner, so I actually had to stop and stare for a moment when he replied with his own critiques and visions of what a home should be.

He then told me that his favorite time in his neighborhood is summer, in the middle of the night, because the roads are empty and you can walk straight down the middle of them while you look up and see the stars. That statement ripped me out of 2010 and tossed me back to 2000, when I was a young philosopher who dreamed of things beyond my understanding and sought true meaning in the world around me. I embraced metaphysical beauty and creativity of the mind and soul, and while I always maintained a foothold on the ground I sent my spirit to the outer reaches of the universe.

My partner, my guide, my support and my light, was standing there beside me when I came back to myself in the next instant. No matter the highs and lows, the challenges and triumphs we’ve faced, together or apart, the core remains intact — and I’m reminded of who I really am.

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I won’t forget the lessons I’ve learned in the last several weeks. And whether we grow together or apart, or stay where we are, I will always remember the light inside me — and the light beside me.


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