I couldn’t tell you exactly how we met but I could tell you that I remember walking her to class one time, and that hoodie she was wearing, and the fact that we were both 15 and that she smelled good, damn good, the kind of unique perfume that she wore up until the last time I saw her, which was today. Today she didn’t smell like anything and that bothered me – bothered me enough to write this – bothered me enough to kettle my thoughts, steaming away in my head like some bastard pressure cooker until they all come out like this like some torrent of words I can’t control. It’s like a firehose, sometimes, man. Sometimes you just turn it on and it goes everywhere.
First love, I suppose, one would call it. That’s her. And not in a sense where we were screaming eachothers names from rooftops or tattooing our initials onto our thighs between classes. We just knew it from the start and the whole thing has always been about as casual as a handshake.
Speaking of hands, I can barely type right now. I’m not sure what it is. I’m not shaking on the outside but on the inside I can barely breathe. Its like trying to swim a lap at the bottom of the pool.
The only way, I suppose, is up.
So I’ve known her for a long, long, time. By the end of high school she’d come over and sleep next to me, not in a sexual way, really, at least not then, but because we were that close. We dated for a while during the year between high school and college while I was deciding what to do.
She got married in February to a guy she met in January. It was a good thing for her – I was happy, having just met the girl I’m currently dating, who, by the way, is pretty fucking awesome. I write all this with the knowledge that she understands my theory on “love,” I suppose, that once given it can’t be taken away. It’s always there – in that moment. Love is not a measurable commodity that one can run out of; you either love or you don’t. The faucet is on or the faucet is off. It’s not the kind of thing you can do half-assed and if you do, you’ve missed the entire point of it.
Again, I can barely type. Entirely unsure of what my fingers are doing until I see the words on the page. The airport lounge is a seething, whirling blur right now. Airports aren’t really here nor there – an odd sticky space between where you’ve been and where you are trying to get to. That’s the joy of travel. You aren’t anything other than a passenger, an observer – just another guy filling a seat.
Anyway - where was I? - she got married to this guy in February and he killed himself in May.
Yeah, so there’s that.
It goes entirely against everything I’ve known about love; or pretty much everything I’ve known about anything, really. To see someone that you care for in that much pain is not entirely unlike watching someone drown, in slow motion, for months at a time.
It ushers in your own feelings toward tragedy-porn: the feeling that you must know what is going on – the almost lecherous knowledge of the inner workings of what happened that day. Do you want to know the intricacies? What will you gain when you know? What will you lose if you don’t? It plays upon a base knowledge set of what you consider “good” and “bad.” Simply knowing the details of what happened in turn rearranges those values in your head. Does love win over all? It appears sometimes it doesn’t.
I spent most of the day today with her, watching her go through the motions, listening to her talk about what happened from the day they met to the last day through till today.
I’m still processing everything. Again: its like watching someone you love drown, in slow motion, while talking to you the entire time – and all you can do is hope that they don’t go under. You can try and help, but they’re the only ones that can every really get out of the water.
I’d write more, but they’re boarding the plane now. So now I have to reevaluate what I thought I knew about love and mental illness and hope and youth and getting older and what it all means 30,000ft up in the air in the middle of the night.
The part of this whole thing that is eating me up is that I can still see both of us at 15 the day we met, as clear as sunlight. And now I can still see - when I close my eyes right now - how upset she was today about her late husband’s decision.
Getting older is a chess game played in pitch black darkness.
On a lighter note, I can see a grown man carrying a pillow onto the plane like its his teddy bear. So there’s that.
I guess all you can ever really do is be there for someone.