She invited me for dinner after I sent her a picture of the monument where she had stolen my heart.
Back then I was still on the upwards ride of the rollercoaster of our relationship. The slope of the track was almost vertical, and the sudden, cruel drop towards oblivion? Unthinkable. I told her that life was a movie and that I had a soundtrack playing in my subconscious. I don’t think I’d articulated this feeling so accurately until that moment. She smiled and said that she loved the thought. What song was playing now? she asked me, after her lips had taken a short break from meeting with mine. Dream a Little Dream of Me by Ella Fitzgerald, I answered. It felt like the right song to say. My ex-girlfriend (not then, not yet) nodded with approval and kissed me again.
Back our silence was not uncomfortable. The absence of sound said everything and nothing at the same time. Beautiful and true relationships are those that can communicate with unspoken silence just as well as they can with spoken words. Now though, as I sat across from her in the crimson booth of this Thai restaurant, our silence was unbearable. Echoes of her betrayal made the absence of conversation murky and strange. The slow, melodic jazz playing at the restaurant was a comforting sound whenever these silences manifested themselves into existence. The feeling inside of me was not of anger or resentment. I had buried the toxicity of those emotions a while back, it was killing me after all, and I did not want to fade into non-existence quite yet. What then, was this feeling inside of me?
Tonight, the canvas of her face was as unreadable as ever. I observed her from a distance like a man trying to understand a Picasso in the Louvre. The more intense my gaze became, the more blurry her image. Occasionally her eyes became scarlet with passion and curiosity and yet the colors of her portrait remained mostly grey with ambivalence.
The Painter had done an amazing job with her which made it much harder for me to hate Him. She was effortlessly beautiful and mind-numbingly radiant all at once with hidden layers of unintentional cruelty and purposeful meanness: a fine work of art.
She told me about her travels, her dance and the men she had slept with and fallen for. I told her about my own journeys and the art I had created. I failed to mention any tale of romantic endeavor. Nothing noteworthy had happened since she had left.
I cross-referenced and peer-edited the thesis which argued that any trace of importance I used to have in her life had disappeared and found it to be free from error. It hurt to think that songs of heartbreak I had felt so vividly no longer had any relevance to her.
It could be she still missed me romantically moaned the Fool; It was certain that this was not so spoke the Wise.
On the first day of a new year she had arisen in Bethlehem day-dreaming of a prosperous future for Palestine; I had opened my eyes in Mexico City day-dreaming of a time when she was still mine to hold. Any chance for a return to Boston Commons had disappeared the moment hate had festered in the agricultural field of my soul. There was no pesticide that could control the emotion as it spread and no medicine capable to cure the damage it had caused on those who ate the crops.
I wondered if my expression gave any hint to the vast dormant conflict within me.
I wondered many things that night.
I paid the bill for the sake of convenience and gave the waitress a decent tip, for she had been a good host. The Girl from North Country let me know that a bus back to our university was arriving soon and I followed her outside to the cruel Boston winter. My body shivered with a mixture of cold and confused affection for a woman who had torn me in half.
You give too much of yourself and fail to keep enough of you inside, Penelope had once told me, You could do so much better than her. Maybe the social nature of my Character which had presented itself in parties during my first year of studies could have done better. This exiled form of my Ego could only make it ten minutes into an event without feeling some form of dissatisfaction and anxiousness.
High school days repeat themselves all over again.
I remembered another moment in which Juan had talked to me with a kind voice and affectionate gaze: Why do you still think of her? After all she has done to you?
I told him that she was the first girl I had ever met who had truly understood and loved both the darkness and light of the human spirit. She knew that music was the only way to reconcile these two opposing sides within us. She knew music was the only honest way to speak with one another. I confessed that when I was younger I used to collect songs of Love, place them in little boxes, and then share these soul-containers with girls I liked, hoping they would understand what each song meant. They threw these little boxes away with the innate cruelty of young beautiful girls who have just discovered they were beautiful. So I collected songs in secret, took care of them, learned from them, and never gave them to anyone else.
She was the first girl to ever give me her collection of songs; a timeless and pure act I will never forget, although sometimes I wish I could. With her, I found beauty and peace within the delicate tragedy that is living. Once she was gone the tide of disharmony rose and powerful waves crashed down on the brittle shores of my spirit. Life became cruel and fake all over again.
We climbed on the bus and sat side by side, staring straight into the faces of strangers in front of us.
“If we were famous they would know all about our history, but since we are unknown, our history means nothing to them”, I thought to myself.
The pale yellow lights of the lamp posts flickered by and faded into the darkness of the night.
What song is playing in your head right now? She asked.
Weird fishes/ Arpeggios by Radiohead. What about you?
The ghostly lights of a future that could have been suddenly flooded my senses.
I dont’t really know.
She stared out the window with dispassionate silence.
This is my stop, I’ll see you around.
I never saw her again.
3 YEARS LATER
You might be wondering why I’m writing this now, after so much time has passed between us, after all that we put each other through.
Perhaps it’s the color of the sun cut flat
And coverin’ the crossroads I’m standing at
Or maybe it’s the weather or something like that
After one particular ego-death and a conversation with a wise man born in the heart of Colombia I realized that I never really let go of you. I thought the last text I had sent you meant that all debts were cleared and we could finally move on with our lives.
But I blocked you before you could answer back, before you could rage against the pain I had caused you, before your troops saw my lone soldier raising his white flag in pursuit of harmony.
I am not blaming you for what happened, for I am not blameless. I don’t hate you for what you did or didn’t do, because I no longer hate myself. I find peace in knowing I asked for forgiveness, that I forgave you, and that I forgave myself.
I do not mean you trouble, don’t put me down, don’t get upset
I am not pleadin’ or sayin’ I can’t forget you
I do not pace the floor, bowed down and bent
Maybe you’ve seen me on the news lately, or on late night TV shows, or on disposable magazine covers. I don’t do what I do for the fame or the glory. I work and create simply because I must.
You are the reason I am here today. Without you, without my time with you, without the pain, without the love, I would have never started the journey on the Road Less Travelled. I would have never found peace. As terrible as we were in the end, I still remember how beautiful we were in the beginning.
After we ended, you asked me if dating you filled me with any regret.
I said no then, and I say no now.
Even tho’ my eyes are hazy
And my thoughts they might be narrow
Where you been don’t bother me, or bring me down with sorrow
I don’t even mind where you be wakin’ up tomorrow
I want you to know that I am eternally grateful for you. Sometimes, in a moment of weakness, I still search for your username on Spotify (even though I know you are no longer there), hoping I can get a glimpse of your mind through the songs you listen to.
When I walked on stage with tears in my eyes and stood in front of the world, I have to admit, for the briefest of moments, I thought of you. You were the spark which set everything in motion, after all.
I’m not asking you to say words like yes or no
Please understand me, I’ve no place I’m calling you to go
I’m just whisperin’ to myself so I can pretend that I don’t know
Do you still want to die before you’re 35? Do you still listen to Jeff Buckley when you are on your own? Did you ever buy your Boots of Spanish Leather?
I’ll never get the answers to those questions, and I’m fine with that.
It’s just the way life is sometimes.
When you wake up in the mornin’ baby, look inside your mirror
You know I won’t be next to you, you know I won’t be near
I’d just be curious to know if you can see yourself as clear
As someone who has had you on his mind
As someone who has had you on his mind
Mama you been on my mind.