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I'm Sorry Sam

I’m sorry Sam.
I’m sorry for kissing him; that boy with the dark curls and the Social Distortion t-shirt. That boy who just so happened to listen the same way that your gentle ear does; about horseshoes above doorways, candlesticks made of beeswax, and the rings of a tree stump revealing its true age. This boy talked his way through my heart, but listened more than your ears ever allowed to filter in. I’m sorry, Sam, for understanding you better than you could understand yourself.
The day I decided to drive away was never shrouded in mystery or seemed unimaginable and you had to have known that it would come eventually. There are only so many opportunities in life where you can pack up every good book you own, every sweatshirt you’ve worn threadbare, and all of the canisters of film you forgot to develop for the school yearbook without a single regret or tie to the past lives. But once you’ve graduated and everyone gets thrown across the country, leaving that $55 hard-bound book of memories under their childhood beds to collect dust, you’re expected to fling yourself off some kinds of cliff. I did just that. I wanted to jump too. I just didn’t realize how hard the fall would be without you. I’m sorry, Sam, that I jumped without your consent.
See, we fell in love, and that was our first mistake. You held my hand that day at the waterfront and kissed me on that wild night on the back porch of your best friends rented house. You took me to go see a two-and-a-half star comedy with B-list stars who couldn’t keep my attention away from the way the calluses on your hands felt like seashells. You came to my family’s dinner party and brought store-bought cookies on your mom’s floral serving platter. You laid me down on your bed of black sheets and gave me your grey v-neck t-shirt to sleep in. I woke up and your breath was hot on my neck. Your stubble scratched away yesterday’s suffering off of my face as we kissed with sour morning breath. You let me tell you stories about the rapists and arsonists on the six o’clock news, about the benefits of drinking green tea because the antioxidants help to fight off sicknesses, about Nikola Tesla’s superiority over Thomas Edison, about the pockets of broken capillaries that you gave me on my collarbone and broken cocoons of the butterflies in my biology class. You smiled that toothy grin, nodded, and recorded my every word like a court stenographer. You could so easily recall what I had said over a bowl of ice cream at Dairy Queen or what I whispered into your ear as I rested my head on your shoulder. Your steel trap mind kept up with my storm of words. You could call me out on anything I contradicted or correct me from any slip up. You held every word I spoke in the palm of your hand and viewed them with your mind’s eye, revealing all of the things I was too selfish and self-absorbed to recognize myself. That’s how I fell in love with you, Sam. I’m sorry if that will forever be the mistake we have to live with.
This boy, the one with the dark curls, he was the one who cushioned my fall. He was the one who send text messages from down the street, the modern-day way of throwing rocks at a girl’s bedroom window. He took me on walks to the baseball field, where we discussed Against Me!’s progression from anarcho punk to pop power cords. He asked me where I saw myself in ten years and what would make me the happiness person in the world. I told him cookie-cutter answers, the kind you tell new friends who know nothing of your past, such as finding a reasonably priced house in a modestly tacky Cleveland suburb. Such as loosing ten pounds and visiting Neuschwanstein castle in Bavaria. Such as finding a job to help pay off the past and save for the future. These are the kind of answers a new friend expects and I enjoy meeting the expectations of others. But then the curly-haired boy saw past all of that. He asked me where I really saw myself and what would really make me happy. So, I told him about living in a loft apartment that is sweltering in the summer and icy in the winter, just so I can get a view of the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge from my bathroom window. I told him about gaining every pound with pride as I became increasingly pregnant with a baby who would inherit my hair and your smile, Sam. I told him about never leaving the city again if it meant I could see the colors on the leaves change in my hometown just one last time. I told him my desire to sit in the basement archives of a mold-ridden library and catalogue books bound in leather, without another soul in the world to disturb me. I’m sorry Sam, but you never saw past the bland, stereotypical answers. I told you, but you never really asked. I felt that this boy understood me on a level in which you hadn’t even tried to. That’s why the boy with the dark curls leaned over and pressed his lips to mine and I knew he’d invaded a sacred space meant only for you. I’m sorry Sam, but I couldn’t bring myself to pull away.
Now let me ask you some questions, Sam, let me ask you some questions if you’ll allow me to. Have you ever felt like you were breathing underwater? Have you ever felt like the September air that expanded your lungs was too thick, too hot, and too dense to possibly sustain you? Have you ever felt as if a sharp pang of remorse slid down your airway like your conscious was snaking the drain of your soul? Have you ever walked the concrete path back to your bed with the taste of someone else’s root beer-flavored tongue still lingering in your mouth? Have you ever had the scent of two lovers stuck to your skin like static-electric cellophane; unable to be just brushed away without attaching itself to another part of you? Have you ever rinsed yourself with grain alcohol and dried yourself with rolling paper and nourished yourself with milligrams of man-made materials? I can answer all of these questions with a yes. I’m sorry Sam, for these are the questions better left unanswered but I have never been able to lie to you. Not for a moment have I ever wanted to be untruthful to you.
When I came home in December, I figured that I would fall back into love with you again. When the thickest, most detailed snowflakes fell from pink, pregnant skies, I would not be able to resists kissing you. When your knuckles bled from too many snowball fights and alcohol-based hand sanitizer, I would rub moisturizer into the cracks and wrap them with bandages. I would press my cold, aching body against yours under your black sheets and I would pick at the visible lint left behind by my favorite purple sweater. We would spike our hot chocolate with coffee-flavored vodka and be warmed body and mind. I would talk, and you would listen. I would report and you would record. I would be martyred and you would be canonized. My dear, with the sharpest knife your kitchen had to offer, we would carve our names into the wooden frame in the back of your closet and immortalize our love. I’m sorry Sam, but I can’t carve the curves in your S very well. We’d pretend that it doesn’t look like a 5. No one would ever notice my mistake.
The truth behind my return home was that you hid from me. You locked your car in the garage, turned off your phone, and convinced your younger brother to answer the door and lie for you whenever I knocked. You and your dad tore down the swing set where we spent our childhood summers and burned the whole pile, nails and all. I saw your basketball hoop propped up next to your garbage cans on trash day. I saw your hooded, slouched figure duck out of the grocery store before we had the opportunity to make awkward conversation in the checkout line. My mother opened a holiday greeting card from your family, but the signature under the yuletide message was not your own. I threw up after the first five nights of sleeping in my old bedroom. By the second week, two bottles of Pepto helped me keep down my Christmas dinner, but not the memory of you. During the first minutes of the New Year, I kissed a boy who graduated from high school when I was in the eighth grade. I was so drunk that I began talking about Nikola Tesla and he left the conversation to go on a beer run before I even began to explain the benefits of alternating current. I’m sorry Sam, for boring you with all of those late-night nonsense talks way back when. I’m sorry for being the one who always talked but never once bothered to listen. I realized that night that not every boy is as patient as you.
The boy with the dark curls never called after our encounter. He never cast another 160 characters at my digital windowpane. He never again asked for my thoughts and opinions on the death of vinyl records or my view of the afterlife. His face floated from my memory once he dropped the class and dropped my name from his list. I was in the laundry room last Sunday and found a Social Distortion t-shirt left crumpled and deserted in an empty dryer. Desperate for his organic scent, I put the black cotton to my nose and inhaled a frantic, coke-head’s sniff. All I could catch were lilacs and the same fabric softener that my mom uses. I threw the garment back in and slammed the metal door. I’m sorry Sam, but his smell still lingers in my nose from time to time and I can’t help but ignore the generic brands that get your whites whiter and your brights brighter.
So here we are Sam; stuck, unable to progress forward or undo the past. I don’t think you’ll ever forgive me or that I’ll ever be able to stop loving you. I’m pretty sure you’ll never look me in the eye ever again, but perhaps that’s the price I have to pay for my crime. I broke a promise that I swore I never would; one of those promises I made as we lay between your black sheets, discussing summer continuing on into the colder seasons like that was a realistic possibility. Maybe we should have seen this coming, or at least prepared our hearts for their inevitable shattering. But you can’t take a life insurance policy out on your emotions. You don’t prepare yourself for the day when your favorite shirt picks up a funky odor that you just can’t seem to bleach away or your pillow becomes so flat that you wake up with a stiff neck or when the great movie you’ve seen a dozen times finally just becomes too predictable. You don’t prepare yourself for the day when the boy you’ve always been in love with doesn’t seem to love you enough or when you end up seeking refuge in the arms of a boy with dark curls. You can’t prepare yourself for the day when you betray the only love you’ve ever known or when the only love you’ve ever known is no longer. It’s replaced by hatred and pain. Telling you the truth was the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life, but by far the most necessary to find the peace we need to move forward. I’m sorry Sam. I feel like I’ve overused the phrase or that I’ve made it insincere, but I’m begging you to believe me. Just try to listen to me just once more. I’m sorry Sam. It was never meant to end up this way.



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This article has 6 comments. Post your own!

joksl said...
Mar. 4 at 2:45 pm:
This is so incredibly beautiful.
 
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4everme said...
Dec. 5, 2011 at 9:22 pm:
This is amazing. I already read 2 of your articles and they are so amazing!
 
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ksaurus200 said...
Nov. 13, 2011 at 3:31 pm:
wow i could never write like this
 
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Sarahtonin said...
Sept. 24, 2011 at 2:06 pm:
Your writing is so beautiful and bittersweet and visual. I love it! :D
 
savemethewaltz This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Sept. 24, 2011 at 2:26 pm :
thank you so much! I was worried that no one would bother to read this since I forgot to indent the paragraphs when I was submitting, but I'm very exicted that you enjoyed this piece.
 
Sarahtonin replied...
Sept. 24, 2011 at 3:49 pm :
Paragraphs don't matter too much when your writing is so good ;D
 
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