To An Old Flame

I was telling our story a few days ago. No matter how many times I tell the end of it, it never ends happily for us. Even after all this time has past.

I’d been so focused on the end. It was our ending I had to learn to live with, but  in tending to how our chapter ended, I lost sight of our beginning. I’d forgotten how we started our story in the first place.

I’d forgotten how brave you were.

Somehow we lost the large group and wound up alone that night. I was impatient for them to catch up with us. I stripped off my dress and dove into the deep water of the hidden pool. You were watching from the ledge, you made no move to follow me. I swam deeper into the water, I was basically a fish in those days. You slowly eased into the shallow water, it took you a long time to edge away from the shore. Eventually you got close enough to catch me. You didn’t let go for quite some time.

I found out weeks later, you’re afraid of running water. You avoid lakes, ponds, and rivers at all costs. The ocean terrifies you, you’ve determinedly never seen it. It’s a fear you’ve had your entire life.

And still, you came in after me.

We went back there many times, that was the first and only time you joined me in the water. You were afraid I’d think you a coward when you told me the truth, but I felt like a princess from a fairy tale, you’d faced down your personal dragon to reach me. It was the first time I’d ever felt truly important to someone.

You were a lot of firsts for me. Road trips, thunderstorm kisses, summer adventures, our short-lived romance read like a well worn college romance novel.

And like most college romances, it ended up in flames. Suddenly I was looking at my own heart in pieces, the pain I’d heard about was now mine to bear.

You were a lot of firsts for me.

There are times I hate you, there are times  I miss you. I want to be friends again with you, I want never see your face again. I may never forgive you, but I will never forget you. You, in all your complexities, are both lovely and terrible.

You were mine, you changed me and my life, and you taught me many things.

Mostly though,  you remind me to be brave.

I think of you fondly these days. Your name carries a bittersweet taste, flavors of smoky, bitter chocolate etched in my memory.

Sometimes I think you ruined me, most days I know you saved me.

Always, I wish you well.

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