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What I've Learned
I awoke this morning with a single mission: to commit him to memory. This had to be done first physically before it could be done emotionally. In one full stride, I whisked away my heavy blankets and reached for the bag, the bag I had brought to the banquet. The bag I was carrying when we first kissed. That bag. Within that bag, I had moments. I had letters written and notes exchanged. I had programs and pieces of confetti. I opened this bag, whose contents I was all too familiar with . Without examining them, without taking one last glance, I dumped all of my moments into the shoebox kept under my bed that was labeled, with the chicken scratch scrawl of a five-year old, “Memories”. He was now a memory.
I have been through this whole process before, yet it is entirely different. I never had the strength to admit to myself that it was over, that it was done. I never had the strength to open that bag without examining every last scrap of paper, every last moment. It had served as a constant reminder of the past, one I could no longer deal with. Though she sat silently in my nightstand, concealed by my piles of books, she was omnipresent. But now, she is empty; she has been committed to memory. The horrible irony of my life is that it took us getting back together in order for me to realize all the reasons why it wouldn’t work. In a way, we are like Pandora’s box. We were told by the Universe not to open the box because all of the evils of the world would be unleashed upon us. But when we ran out of options, we opened the box. Every evil was unleashed upon us, however you suffered most of the blows.
We began to fight, and fighting was the one thing I never wanted to happen. The problem with fighting is that there is always a loser. Someone always loses, someone always gets hurt. I have seen how fighting can tear apart two people who once claimed that they were in love. I have seen the ugly beast that lurks in corners of people’s lives, just waiting for that chance to rip them apart. But like Pandora, we managed to hold on to one thing. We managed to close the heavy lid of our box in order to keep the one thing that meant the most to us all along, friendship. Though the term “just friends” still stings when said aloud, I feel better than before. My heart has settled back into a steady pattern of beats, and my hands have stopped shaking. My eyes have dried, and my body is no longer curled up into a ball.
Some people claim that they wish they had never met the person who broke their heart. As for me, I thank God everyday that I have met you. A great friend of mine once said that she saw everyone who entered her life as a teacher. Whether they were a friend or a foe, she saw them as life’s way of teaching her a greater lesson. You, my dear, are one of the greatest teachers I have ever known. You taught me how to live. You taught me how to believe in the beauty of my dreams, after so many years of people telling me they were worthless. You taught me that if someone is truly your friend, you don’t have to pretend. For too long, I had been putting on fake personas, pretending I was something I wasn’t, in order to please others. But with you, I was simply me. You embraced me for the lunatic that I am, and, even after learning the stories of my past and seeing the darker side of the girl who bounces through the hallways, you never looked at me any differently. Your eyes always sparkled with understanding, and that is why I grew so attached to them.
It killed me when you apologized for wanting your own happiness. I want you to be happy, but I too was being selfish. I wanted you to be happy with me. However, I have now learned that you have to let someone let go of your hand for them to learn to how to walk on their own two feet. I know the stories of your past, and I have felt your pain. But I also see the bright future ahead of you, the beacon of hope and happiness just waiting for you on the horizon. You have suffered enough, you’ve been at war with yourself. It’s time that you won.
People always say that when God closes one door, he opens another. However, they don’t always tell you that sometimes the closed door has a window. So that you will always be able to see the person you left behind. But when I tore my eager and hopeful eyes away from the window for a mere second, I saw the open door. Behind this door, sat one of the most amazing friends I have ever known. Her door was made of maple wood. It bore a sticker on the front that said “iACK”, a reference to not only her obsession with Apple products, but also to her love of the island of Nantucket (ACK is the International Airport Code for Nantucket). A rainbow of light emanated from behind this door, coupled with the singing of a ukulele. When I peeked through the door, a pair of beautiful blue eyes sparkled up at me and said, “Tell me what happened, dearie”. This face was vaguely familiar to me, I remembered seeing her on a dance floor while she was air-guitaring many months before. But something about it screamed “You can trust me. I will understand.”
So I told her. I told her everything. I told her of him, I told her of me, I told her of everything that had happened in such a short period of time. When I was done, and the last of my words hung in the air, I waited to see how she would receive them. I hadn’t sat down too comfortably beside her, for I feared that she may not want me to stay. She looked at me, with eyes that spoke without sound, and a face of true understanding. She opened her arms and said, “Come here.” The true mark of a great friend is when you can communicate without sound.
Though it may seem silly, I do not like to share my feelings. Sure, when I am angry or giddy, the world will know exactly why. But when I am upset or scared, I keep it enclosed in a bottle. There are few people who have ever been strong enough to loosen the cap on that bottle. But the beautiful soul behind that opened door managed to nearly yank off the cap completely.
Within our friendship, she has spoken many words of encouragement to me. In my heart, I remember them all. But there are a few words that are written in bold, italicized, and underlined. “You are what? Fourteen? Oh geez, Izzy you are not fourteen. You are an old soul. You are just like me, old souls. On the inside, we have gray hairs. You have this amazing ability to understand. You understand people, you understand situations. People like you. People love you. You just have this air about you, and when people meet you, it is impossible for them not to fall in love with you. You will always have someone, someone who loves you immensely. And even if the entire world turns its back on you, I will always be here.”
I truly believe that I could not have survived these past few months without the girl behind that opened door.
As I write this, I am sitting outside. Autumn is in full-throttle. The leaves drift away from their homes and find comfort in the grass. The smell of nature fills my nostrils, and a plane soars over head. I think of what it would be like to be a tree. To live for so long, to see so much, and still be standing tall. A tree in New England has seen just about every curveball Mother Nature can throw, and while some fall and splinter on her fury, others continue to stand strong. We can all learn a great lesson from trees. Life is hard, and sometimes life will become unexpected and rip off a branch or two. It will leave scars that not everyone will notice. But at the end of the day, if you are still standing, if you still have life pumping throughout you, that is something to be thankful for. That is a reason to embrace life and all of its blemishes.
I know that someday, I will heal. I know that someday the scars life has left on my skin will be barely noticeable. One day, I will be married and I will lay in a bed next to the man to whom I have given my life. The sun will begin to rise and the break through the curtains of our bedroom. It will cast a gentle beam on his sleeping face, and I will think of everything I have gone through to get to this one peaceful moment. I will think back through my life, and my mind will pause when I think of you. Though now the memories I have of you are slightly pained, I will remember them then with a smile. A small smile, an intimate smile, that will barely been seen on my face but it will resonate within heart. I will smile as I think of all the lessons you have taught me. I will smile as I see that the great plan of my life has been laid out by the Universe since the very beginning. I will smile as I think of the one of the greatest companions I have ever known. I will smile as I think of the boy who loved me first.