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How is it that one person can make you feel so many opposite emotions? He could make me feel light as a feather, or weightier than an elephant. Though I am a small part of this universe, he made me feel huge because I was such a big part of his life. As we paddled to each other, our bodies cutting through the freezing water, I knew that I wanted to feel like that forever. To always have an idea of where I belonged, just by looking into his hazel eyes. When Jesse and I finally reached each other the boat had begun to turn back for us.
"Are you okay?" He laughed, probably replaying my wipeout off the tube in his mind.
"I was going to ask you the same thing. If I didn't know any better I'd say you jumped off that tube purposely," I wrinkled my nose as I playfully punched his arm.
"You know me too well. I just want to be with you as much as possible, seeing that I won't be seeing you for about another year," he teased at first, but became serious after he spoke those final words. The words neither of us wanted to say, for fear that if we said them, our final moments would fly by us. I shivered at the thought.
"You cold?" he questioned. I nodded, rubbing my arms to keep warmth. In a millisecond I felt burning, and I was unsure why. Every last chill in my body shot up my spine and fled from my head. Jesse had grabbed my hand, and he now held it in his own. I could feel his eyes on me, and I realized that I was look straight back into his.
"Never let go…" He hesitated, and I knew that when he said that he wasn't only talking about letting go of his hand, "I love you, Lacey." One look into his eyes, and I could see the swirl of emotion: love, confusion, sadness, and possibly the knowledge that he knew this would end badly, whether or not we liked it. We both knew that deep down, but we pushed the information out of our brains.
I was out of words to say to him, but I knew that I loved him too. I always had, to be completely honest. Ever since before I could remember. But then again, I didn't remember that far back. I didn't remember our toddler days together in London, and when I moved to the U.S, I didn't remember the first few years when they would come half way around the world to visit us for a week. I did remember though, when we played with my other sister, and his brother and sister, and how I would always be the princess in danger, and I hoped he would be the prince who would rescue me. I hoped that one day he would tell me he'd felt the same way too.
Being with him made the real world disappear, and in its place stood a new, beautiful, blooming, world. One where I could be as happy as I wanted, and no one could stop me from being that way. But as the boat drew nearer and nearer my world began to slip away, farther and farther, until it was a speck of dirt in the back of my mind.
I climbed onto the boat first, while Jesse followed. I grabbed my towel, wrapping its fluffy arms around my shoulders, trying to regain the suddenly lost body heat.
"You okay there, Lacey? It looked painful when you fell off," my dad said, as he began pulling the tube into the boat.
"Yeah, I'm fine," I sighed. "Falling off is the best part anyways."
The engine gargled as it slowly began to come to life, as did the realization of how soon I would have to say goodbye. Goodbye to everything I'd once lost and had now found again. Goodbye to Jesse.
Home. I was home. But it didn't feel like home to me. It felt like court. Like a jury was sitting inside my heart, deciding whether I should be excited to talk to Jesse in a few hours, or whether I should be devastated that my heart had its first crack through the center of it. What was there to do? I could sit on my computer, waiting for him to get on his so we could talk, but I knew he wouldn't be on till the next morning.
My parents could tell how torn up I was. They did everything in their power to help, but none of it worked. I made myself busy, folding the clothes and towels. I put on his worn in purple sweater he gave to me. I wrote his name on the inside of the sweater so that I would always have him near. I wanted to go home. To my real home in Boston, where I could see my friends. I needed to get away from everything that reminded me of Jesse's sweet smile and soft eyes. The five hours Jesse and his family had been gone felt like five years.
I guess it was because when Jesse got home, he would have to make a huge decision. Whether or not to let make me his, because he was already, and always would be, mine.
I fell asleep on the pull out bed he and his brother had slept in. I was wearing his purple hoodie , for fear that by taking it off for at least a moment, I'd lose him. I had trouble falling asleep that night. Dr. Seuss once said "“You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams," and I've always believed it too. But this was different. Yeah, the one I loved told me he loved me too, but then why was he on the other side of the world by now? Why didn't he stay? Nothing's impossible. A long distance relationship between two teenagers isn't impossible, just verging on it.
The birds tweeted songs of morning as my eyes drifted open and I sat up in bed. Jesse, was the first thought that came to my mind. I sprung up from bed and sprinted to my computer to check my Facebook for an answer. For my future. For my sanity too.
One red flag sat above the inbox sign. I paused, beginning to breathe deeper and faster. I'd never been so nervous, ansy and on end. I slowly clicked on the red sign.
I love you, Lacey. Nothing you or anyone can do can ever make me stop feeling that way. I don't want to ever be with another girl if I can't be with you. You're the first girl I ever loved, and you're also going to be the last.
My heart sunk, just like the Titanic did, spiraling down to the pit of my stomach. Why? Because Jesse had left me behind, he was home and happy and I wasn't. I was left here with the potent remains of every memory. He left me to soak in the waters of our time together. To trace my finger along the remnants of him. His left over shampoo, his soda from the morning before, and the sand grains of where we lay down together when we all went out to the beach for a bonfire. Sometimes I think that's the memory I remember the most. We lay there, looking upwards, and he told me all he knew about the stars and the moon. Nothing had ever felt more right, as we all belted out songs from Mamma Mia.
And now, now Jesse was gone, leaving me with the strong vivid memories, like videos I was able to replay over and over in my mind.
It was shocking to me, how my love for him could grow stronger, even though we were apart. But inside of that love, there was also hatred. It was building up, like a blistering cut, that eventually becomes infected, and poisons the tenderness around it.
That was how I felt. Suddenly, I just wanted to cause him as much pain and anxiety as he was secretly causing me. Jesse had been doing drugs and alcohol since he was in seventh grade. For two years now! At the beginning of our relationship he promised he would never do it again, because he was happy, and those chemicals couldn't make him any happier. But gradually I noticed he was using them again. It hurt. It felt like I wasn't enough for him. I couldn't make him happy, not even the huge teethy grin he always gave me was helping to heal my hurt.
Most importantly, I couldn't talk to Jesse. I didn't want to lose him, and I knew if I started talking to him about his substance abuse, it would be the end of us. Why would a guy who was a year older bother with a girl like me? Sure, I guess I'm not ugly, but I'm nowhere near beautiful. Nowhere near perfect. That was just another one of Jesse's lies. Another. Just like everything else I felt like he told me.
The crack in my heart, was beginning to widen, and spots were beginning to turn black with hatred, angst, and scar tissue.
December 8th. It was nearly three months later that I finally told him that I didn't want him drinking anymore. He took it well, but I didn't. I wanted him to not break his promise this time. But already, only a week after telling him, I know he's broken his promise. I know when he lies. I've known him my whole life. Jesse's simple like that, and it's comforting to know all I have to do is hear his voice to know everything I need to know. I can hear the betrayal.
But I don't want to think about that, I want to push it out of my mind because in a few days, he'll be in Boston. He'll be in my hometown. He'll be with me. His family is coming to visit us. One week of only Jesse. I can't decide, whether it'll be pure bliss, or a complete miss. I still love him though, I know that that will never change.
I suppose with such high expectations disappointment was inevitable. On the first day they came, Jesse's friend sent a message on Facebook while I was sitting next to him, asking him how bad his hangover was from the other night. He didn't think I saw it at first, but I did. I'd always wanted to not be predictable- wanted to make him curious as to why I was acting a certain way. But when he tried to sit next to me, I moved away, keeping my distance. He got the picture, and took out his Ipod Touch. For some reason it made me ecstatic that he was just as miserable as I had been lately.
I forgave him, of course. How could I not? I'd counted down forty days until I could see Jesse, and I was not about to waste the seven days out of the year that we had together. I made myself forget about his friend's message, "How bad was your hangover from the other night?" I think about the past, not once. One day we went to the city with the rest of our families. Jesse and I walked the streets, his arm around my waist. His arm around me just felt right. When we were together, we didn't have to fight, there were no lies, no deceptions. We both knew that in each other's arms was where we belonged. This knowledge gave us the strength to get through the eight months ahead of us, until we could be together again.
But then the morning came when it was time to say goodbye, once more. It felt as though the second I said goodbye, the earth would stop moving. It would no longer turn on its axis. It would just stop, as if the whole world should mourn for my loss. The day Jesse and his family left, my heart ached. Yet, the worst was to come. It reminded me of when I was seven, and loved pulling the legs off the daddy-long-legs. The poor creatures would move a little bit once the legs were removed, and suddenly seize up. That was how I felt. As if someone was plucking off my legs, and my body would fight for a minute, before giving in. Before giving up.
He promised to call as much as he could. That first day when he got home he called over fifteen times. Not once did I pick up. That was the last time he called, but not anywhere near to the last time we talked. My friend had told me that same day that Jesse had another girlfriend, maybe even two. I knew that he hadn't told his friends about us, and I had thought of what he might be doing behind my back. But of course he always convinced me it was all lies. But this time he was only able to convince my head, because my heart couldn't trust him. The crack in my heart was widening, and the spots became obvious.
After that we fought about everything, but mostly his drinking and smoking. In February, after five months together, I told him we should take a break, but not once did it feel like we were actually on a break. We still talked like we were together. I still loved him, and when we fought again, he made me cry, as if the band-aids on my heart had been ripped off and the cuts re exposed. I cried like I had never cried before. And then he told me he had spent ages in a store picking out a Valentine's day present for me, and how he had slaved over the card. He wanted to try again, and so did I. We were fighting for our love.
February 14h. A day meant to be spent with loved ones, but my loved one was thousands of miles away. But I had a piece of Jesse, a present and a card. I looked down at the small package, hesitating as I opened the card. Trying not to hurt it, I slowly opened the letter. I recognized his handwriting. The tiny perfect print that he'd been using for as long as I could remember. A few years back, he could write so small I had to use a magnifying glass to read it. His writing was a bit larger now, but it was still perfectly straight. I read the writing. Never before have I read anything as beautiful.
February 28th. I lost Jesse that day. While he had been off the drugs since he left me in December, February 28th he broke his streak. I told him it was over. Permanently. February 28th I saw a picture of him and another girl, and I knew he wasn't himself in that photo. He was drunk. In one night, I had lost the boy of my dreams. In one night, I lost him to two outside influences. In one night, I told him I never wanted to speak to him again. In one day, I realized I was wrong.
Jesse needed help. Most people would say that it wasn't as bad as I made it out to seem. But really, I think it was worse. Jesse said the reason why he had started again was the stress and the loss. The stress of his school and his family and the loss of me. That really hurt, that I was one of the reasons why he was doing this to himself. The stress and loss was causing him to smoke much more than he previously had.
But I was still angry at him. He wouldn't acknowledge my broken heart. He wouldn't even mention if he was upset. All he told me was that drugs were great. That I was missing out, and that if I ever felt stressed, I should think about trying.
No. My answer was no, and it probably always will be. I know the risks, and the dangers, and how it would not only be hurting myself, but hurting others. The That, above all else though, was what he was doing. He knew how much it hurt me and even worse, I was the reason Jesse was hurting himself. I still loved Jesse. I couldn't sit and watch him destroy his life. I needed to help him. But how do you help someone who doesn't want help?
I'd have to risk losing Jesse in order to do it. It would be tough. But I wanted him to be a whole, healthy person. With or without me in his life. That was the choice I made that day. First, I needed to be rid of the reminders of what we once were. I packed up his purple hoodie, all the jewelry, even the card, and sent it all home to him. But more importantly there was one thing I needed to send him. One quote that I am living on, when I cry at night, and recall how perfectly our hands intertwined, and when I wish he'd tell me at least one more time that he loved me, I remember the quote by Dr. Seuss. “Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.”