Short Open Letters to Stepping Stones

Dear flustered kindergartner, you’re obviously not in kindergarten anymore, but I never knew you as anything else. The only living memory I have of you is a snowball fight, preserved in a moment in time like a fossil lost in frozen ice dug up years later to represent forgotten history. The frost left me with a cold to catch the next day, but I didn’t mind at all. “I like him, and he likes me,” I used to proclaim to our class, and you never denied it. I hope you’ve found someone now who can say the same today.

Dear indecisive soccer player, you were my first love. I can’t tell you how happy I am that you aren’t also my last. Your inappropriate jokes left nothing but a foul taste in my mouth and a bundle of expired thoughts in the back of my mind asking me for exactly what I saw in you.

Dear artist with the red highlight, it’s a shame I let you leave. Neither of us knew what we were doing back then, but I won’t take that as an excuse for not knowing how damn privileged I was to call you mine. I treated you like nothing, yet you never failed to enclose me in your arms to reassure me that I was everything in your eyes.

I broke the iPod case you gifted me on my birthday, and now I’m miles away where you’ll never hear the shiver behind my apology. I probably won’t ever see you again. No meter or ruler will ever be able to measure how sorry I am. I’m sorry for dropping it, I’m sorry for not taking better care of it, I’m sorry for letting it fall in the first place, and I’m sorry for treating your heart the same way. These are things I’ll never be able to say to you, because I’ve always been too good at being too late.

Dear gamer of the Muslim faith, although we had several enjoyable and admittedly geeky conversations about video games, the ones that I remember the clearest are the ones where we would pointlessly argue over who was “right.” My heart was badly sown into the bleached blanket that covers the world with sacred lies, and after biting the lazy stitches, I’ve grown to learn that it doesn’t matter in the slightest. This might be backwashed gargle from the mouth of a girl that doesn’t know if she’s an atheist or a nihilist, but regardless of whether there is a golden statue to worship or an invisible man in the sky, I still loved you. I learned recently that you apparently loved me too.

This was the second race, and once again I found myself far too late to cross the finish line to place. Perhaps we wouldn’t have to speak in past tense if we had the tenacity to run past such trivial things. Perhaps I should drop the “we,” it was probably “me.”

Dear blonde with spectacles and concerning desperation, fuck you for making me your rebound. Twice.

Dear quiet boy in the winter jacket, our last and only photo together means the world to me, and it’s the main reason why I can’t get rid of that cringeworthy elementary school photo album. I didn’t know you well enough to say those three words to you and mean them. I shouldn’t have said them to you, as they probably meant more to you than I understood at the time. I’m jealous of the next girl you find beautiful, even though I have no right to be.

Dear long-distance lover, I lied to you in more ways in one, so I deserve to have you gone. I’d twist my tongue over almost any small thing out of fear that I’d lose my temporary everything: you. I hope you’re doing well. You taught me multiple somethings, but I bet you remember nothing, and not because of time.

Dear sarcastic guitarist, sometimes I think I should’ve chose you. I may have been the top student in our classroom but I was dumb enough to believe that height difference could justify my idiocy. We walked the same wavelength, connected the same stars, and dreamt of the same colors, but I still chose the eventual disaster over the piece of art that could’ve been. You and your new girlfriend look cute together too. I wonder if we would’ve.

Dear boisterous photographer, I loved the others, but I’m almost certain that I was in love with you. You never understood what difference those two letters made and as much as I tried to illustrate that difference, you always failed to look at the full picture. I realize it’s difficult to make these claims when neither of us were old enough back then to walk into a bar without fake ID; no matter how many times we’ve locked fingers or lips, our “puppy” love would never be considered real in the eyes the big dogs. Either depressingly or thankfully (I truly do not know which one it is myself), you’re the only stone I’ve wandered past that I can still see from here.

Dear undeniably talented near-stranger, I’m not allowed to fall in love with you. It’s an unspoken yet obvious rule. If there was an uncomplicated science for genuine human connection, then by formulaic calculations I could or should fall in love with you, or perhaps I already am without knowing, but let’s throw all that jargon out the window (I’m sure I’m the only one who thinks or cares about that stuff anyway). I just want you to know that I think you’re absolutely wonderful. Perhaps the closest, realest thing to perfect that I’ve ever seen. I don’t know if I am to stay here or meander further, but as of right now, I know that I am right here and I like being right here, with you. I hope you don’t mind; just let me know if I’ve overstayed my welcome.