It felt like summer when I first met him: a season where his silhouette had not yet embellished the cracked sidewalk outside my bedroom window. His smile was the sun, whose rays shined only brighter with a laugh; an anthem of joy that circled back to me in the night when sleep was too lazy to cradle me. As we swapped words like trading cards, I felt constant tugging on the corners of my mouth. I was happy. The butterflies I had once thought extinct returned in abundance, eager to bask in the afternoon daylight. Their wings, ever more prominent in the sweltering heat, fluttered against the bones of my rib cage almost without care for secrecy. The branches in my lungs grew foliage scattered with a rainbow of flowers, and I had to remind myself to breathe.
Before I could realize it, autumn had cast its spell a second time. The first remains impossible for me to forget.
There are off days where such ancient history reads more like a stranger’s fairy tale than a personal account of teenage romance, but sometimes all you have to do is blow the dust off this old relic of a memory. The only true love I have ever come to know was irresponsibly reckless and broken in too many places. I didn’t know that then. What poured out of our hearts was indeed bold, real, and magical, but also deathly impetuous. Once upon a time, it was I, the self-proclaimed inventor of apathy, who was bound to a string of months and days that grew more pointless as it did lengthy. I patiently counted each one with wistful fingertips, as if doing so would make the bruises from the pounding silence fade away. Preposterous. I was a fool then, even more of one than now, but in the end I finally waved goodbye—I had to—before I could be tied to another hello.
I was wrong to think the coronary damage would never heal. Oh, so very wrong. My shoes eventually found home again under a pile of rusty leaves and silver spiderwebs, in a pair of familiar footsteps on the warmer side of the spectrum of fascination. Here we go again. With the return of the fall equinox, the world of dullness transformed into that only of radiance. Budding florae blossomed into spirals of blushing corolla to contest the strongest trees of oak. Vibrant hues bled in an unapologetic harmony, staining all of my white lies and blueprints. I would have never predicted that a few honest evening conversations could serve as my navigation back to no man’s land.
The boy I came to know most certainly had flaws, but perhaps that only fueled the fire. I liked him when he seemed perfect; I fell for him when he seemed human. For every lump of coal, there was a diamond; for every blemish, there was a sparkle. I wondered how many I would have to unearth to call this mine. I kept digging, as long as he let me. How do you truly feel about that? What really happened? Are you feeling alright? One day (I truly cannot pinpoint exactly when), I finally hit something—it may have been a toxin, a delusion, a nerve, or a burst of inspiration. Whatever the case, the butterflies were unsatisfied with flying and thus took the form of rocket ships with dreams to explore where no other had before. Like rising sea levels, my feelings burst through the floodgates without warning, and splashed every corner with ink and folly until…. a page long letter finally emerged in the palm of his hand.
And it was terrifying.
Winter rushed in soon after that, and the oddest part was how the icy winds that once blew me away could then not do as much as send even one chill down my spine. His snowflake speech melted on the heat of my tongue and I tasted nothing. A stutter hadn’t cut my speech short since a time long forgotten. My hands were still, and my heartbeat was steady. The natural alternation of my inhales and exhales remembered what it means to be subconscious. Everything had simmered back down to normalcy, as if ordinary was all my body had ever known. It was as if the switch had been flipped, except… despite my promise to change things eventually, I hadn’t turned it off yet. He beat me to it.
Either I have mastered the frowned-upon art of scapegoating, or the landscape I once adored simply didn’t look beautiful in my eyes anymore. It grew… cold outside. The colors disappeared. Everything was so plain. Gone are the visual harmonies, yet I can’t say, “all of a sudden,” because the possibility remains that the big picture was never picture-perfect in the first place. Perhaps I was blinded by the novelty; overwhelmed by the introduction to a level of brilliance I had never seen anybody else match or even come close to. It was also pretty silly of me to keep my fingers crossed, hoping he looked at my reflection with the same fascination I’d gaze at his with. I thought trust was a balance beam and that our mutual give and take kept us equalized, but it turns out I was never thought to be anything more than convenience. That said, the fault lines are ours. Not more his than mine, nor vice versa. I can call him frosty as many times as I want, but anyone would be so when placed atop a pedestal in a snowstorm for such a long time.
Once the final season paid its expected visit, I was forever grateful. My feelings were messy (if we were to put it lightly) and honestly, a spring cleaning session is long overdue. Given the recent influx of self-contained hurricanes, I’m all for new beginnings. The weather forecast has been pretty darn moody lately.