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It was the peak end of summer, and the sunlights existence was slowly and gradually diminishing. The air held a distinct moisture, but hung lighter than days before. Even the azure sky appeared duller, as if the recent coldness of the past nights was stealing away color. The grass stood proudly, seemingly unaware of the hibernation that would soon be swept onto the earth. I was in the same state as the plants, trees, and air. Waiting blindly. The ground would freeze over in all of the places, all of the moments I’ve spent the past two months creating with him.
Those few days were the pause in the avalanche of changes that were about to occur. My mind had a haze casted over it, straying from the immediate truth. He was leaving, and winter would cast its spell upon everything, while I, only had the choice to endure it.
We were sitting in the grass outside my house. We noticed the change in atmosphere, the change in the air, and the way the trees stood. I imagined it as the summer earth waving goodbye to us. Not only were we saying goodbye to how the planet was painted this time of year, we were saying goodbye to each other.
At the beginning of summer, I had thought of the next few months as a long stretch to test my independence. I had no distinct plan, no inkling of what was about to happen. However, I harbored a hope in the back of my mind that knew it would not be typical. A hope that recognized, secretly, that the stars were aligned for something wonderful to happen.
It was July 5th that summer, that Liam came into my life. Being acquainted in middle school years, with a couple little crushes along the way, curiosity got to the best of me when I received a message from him saying he was coming back to Maine.
It only took two weeks before our days and nights consisted of each other. We both belonged to separate worlds, separate communities, and separate views of the world. I opened up to him, my ideas and crazy hopes, opinions and quirks. Those nights of long talks and debates sculpted our relationship to each other. Being a girl in high school, I was used to the tug-of-war game played with boys. The phone tag, nick names, and deceiving nature of them. But with Liam, I discovered and grown to love this hidden truth: I had found a rare gem.
My legs were sprawled over his, and little words were said. I drunk in the mental image of his face so close to mine, the minor details that photographs chose to neglect. I was covered in numbness, the thought that he was leaving couldn’t be true: even though I was thinking these things, I knew it was in vain. No hints could get my mind to believe my next months would be without him.
Days that summer soared. My mornings consisted of laying awake in my bed in thought, and my nights ended the same. It was what happened in between that provoked those thoughts, my colorful vivd days with Liam. Each day had its own different charm, its different method of bringing us closer. Some days we hiked down the trails at Fort Foster, exploring and going down routes we hadn’t before. We’d find a secluded area, to lay in the sun and talk and swim. There would be nights where we’d lay in my backyard on a blanket and talk about the future. The future. The natural phenomenon that was inevitable, and the thought of it made our blood go cold, but it also sparked a certain excitement within us. A special excitement that I was unfamiliar with at the time, but provided a strange comfort. Pursuing a serious relationship with Liam seemed foolish and challenging, but there was something about the light in our days that made me reconsider. I could feel the good energy he put through me, I could felt it in every inch of my being. It was towards the end of that August that I came to realize my days and moments with him outweighed the dangers of any tangible barriers.
Sitting in the mid-afternoon shadows, we understood that no goodbye was necessary. Goodbye was for leaving, and even though he’d be 250 miles away the next morning, we would carry each other in different forms. Even though my eyes were open, there was a mirage of fragments from those past days that remained in my view. How our shadows looked walking down to the end of the pier, or how he’d slip his hand to me while walking through a crowd of people. I had become to accustomed to these details, and it took leaving them to become aware of how much I truly loved every piece of them.
Although aware of what was going to happen in the morning, we still smiled and wrestled and laughed as we would on any other day that summer. The only hint of it all was our eyes were just a bit wider, our kisses just a bit longer. There would be pauses between laughing and talking where silence would fall. And even though no words would be spoken in those moments, we were saying a thousand and one things. Dark mornings and high school seemed light years away, it was away in a different world that I had become out of touch with. I had grown to love who I became that summer, someone who found beauty and love within every minute of everyday. Someone who would accept and cherish every moment for what it was. I feared losing that part of myself in autumn, but I knew the things that summer brought could not be easily lost. When someone you love affects you in that sense, it only takes the love you have back to keep those things immortal.
His skin seemed warmer that day, maybe it seemed more dramatic against the colder air, or maybe because I just held him closer. I sat cross legged across from him, with the hint of a thousand emotions on my face. I wanted to wrap myself around him, kiss his ears and tell him how brave I was. At that same moment, I wanted to take his hand and run and keep him forever. Neither desire out weighed the other, so I remained immobile. I figured the only thing I could do was give my faith to the wind, give my faith back to the world and whatever power had brought him to me in the first place.
In the last hours together, the clarity of it all wrapped itself around me. Every moment in time that we shared together were being tied in tiny strings to my heart. I couldn’t control all of the memories that were flashing through me: holding hands for the first time in a dark crowded street, our first kiss over the under-pass, or the first time I muttered I love you to him in confused little syllables. I gave away fragments of my dreams to him, fractured little pieces of my secret self. I gave him the formula to how my thoughts panned out, my desires and what made me a human. I opened up myself to him, my weak underside, and the parts I loved most. Even though I was giving and giving, what I received back was much greater.
Eventually the time came where I had to take him home. We sat in the back of my dads car, together in the dark for the short ride to his house. On the way there, we passed places we had walked in the summer sun, places we had laughed together, the place of our first kiss. During my childhood, that was just a road that lead to a small parking lot and a sandy beach front. But now, it sparked such weak and vulnerable feelings of longing. That summer, I felt I had planted seeds in those places. They’d hide under the earth and winter snow, but eventually the sun would warm again and they could grow.
We kissed in the darkness of his driveway and said a generic goodbye. I could only look at him and hope he received the message I was trying to send him. A message that couldn’t be constructed in words, one that only came with the summer sun and the idiosyncrasies of our youth. Pulling away in the car, seeing him make the steps up to his house, I knew he had meant all of the things I tried to say. He had seen and experienced it just as fully as I had. Every stinging, raw, and restless moment.
Laying in bed that evening, I had felt as if the darkness in the sky had swelled open and taken me along with it. I kept my eyes closed and felt the time pass slowly, one of the bittersweet treasures of summer nights. I was young, he was young, and what we shared together that summer remained timeless. I let every strained muscle in my body relax, sink, and give away. Autumn would sweep the summer streets away, sweep away the leaves, sweep away the heat. But the flaming memories and images we created during those fleeting weeks, was permanent.