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Reconstructing the Teenage Heart
The air was cold that night as I listened to the breeze rustling the leaves on the tree overhead. Occasionally I would feel my sleek blonde hair graze across my bare shoulders as the wind blew in the dark. As I stood there gazing into the night sky, I found it extraordinarily easy to let myself become enveloped in the stars and into my own thoughts. My memories of him were breathtakingly vivid; the way it all began, how amazing we had been together, and the way it all came crashing down. When my cell phone vibrated violently on my lap, I was so engrossed in my thoughts that I took no action to reply. The last thing on my mind was my mother telling me to come home for dinner. I’d been subconsciously partaking in these kinds of trances since the day he had left me. My mind was constantly flooded with memories and voices, each day bringing a new aching to my heart.
The words I heard in my head tonight were his, loud and clear, like they had been the day he had said them to me. As my tears fell to the grassy floor, I wondered how I could have been so stupid. I wiped droplets from my cheeks and fastened my hair at the nape of my neck; he had always liked it that way. How could I have been so stupid? How could I have let this happen? These were the same questions I’d been asking myself since that summer day when I realized that he was not coming back; the day I realized I had screwed up too badly for him to ever forgive me. Not only were those thoughts unbearable, but also was the thought that I knew I had no one else to blame but myself.
Reluctantly, I picked myself up from the ground putting most of my weight against the solid oak tree. My body felt heavy and my legs were weak inside my tight blue jeans, so I wavered a bit as I stood. Once again, I wiped tears away from my puffy and swollen eyes as I took a deep breath and attempted to regain my composure. I turned to put my right palm against the tree feeling the rough, rigid bark and remembering the beautiful memories this bulky piece of nature had represented.
I ran my fingers along the barely-visible markings where I knew our initials had once been. For a moment, I closed my eyes. I could see those captivating blue eyes, and I remembered the way they’d sparkled as he’d tell me stories. I saw his toothy smile and the chip in his front tooth he’d acquired from a hockey game. He was always ashamed of it, but the chip was one of my favorite things about his smile. I could even hear his goon-ish laugh inside my head as I regressed into my memories.
My eyes opened and drifted back to the dingy lettering on the old oak. The wind was crisp against my skin and a meadow of goose bumps blossomed along my forearms. It seemed to me that the marks on the tree we had beautifully created had begun to diminish, much like the relationship we once had. With every new day came a new level of sadness that intruded my heart, as every day was a mere reminder that this was just another day without him.
He had truly been my best friend. Together, we were a phenomenal team, and we were crazy about each other; he knew it, I knew it, everyone knew it. There was a bond between us no one else understood. It was as if we were in our own little world and when we were with each other, nothing else mattered. Like any couple, we fought, but our bond was what kept us together. Our desire to stay together encouraged us to always communicate and work things out.
I took for granted the sweet way about him; how he always took care of me and went out of his way to make me smile. How after a fight, he’d pull me close and tell me that he loved me, and an immature argument was not worth losing me. My favorite was when he would sit me down on the couch and tell me stories. I loved listening to his voice and watching his beautiful blue eyes light up as he smiled and beamed of excitement as he relived the experiences. At the thought of this, now only a memory to me, I once again collapsed onto the grass. My limbs felt heavy and my throat became tight as tears rolled down my cheeks and the ping of exhaustion raced throughout my body. I closed my tear-filled eyes and drifted off into what had become an all too familiar dream...
* * * * *
“I miss you,” he said.
“I’ve missed you so much...”
He extended his arms towards me as I quickly moved to embrace him as if at any moment, he would disappear. His arms were strong and comforting, just as they had always been. I tucked my head into his chest and smelled the sweet detergent from his soft cotton t-shirt; the red one that he and I both adored. I tightened my grip around his thin, muscular waist, telling myself I would never let go. He began to move his hand down my back and around my waist until he found my wrist. He crawled his hand into mine until our fingers were interlocked. I squeezed his hand softly, reassuring myself that he loved me back, and nothing had changed. With his free hand, he traced my neck and tilted my chin slightly. I looked into those dazzling blue eyes and for once, I felt complete. I smiled, and leaned in to kiss him softly. As my lips were about to meet his...
I awoke instantly, as I always did during this dream. I initially felt a sense of happiness and love, but only to be exiled seconds later when I realized it was only another dream. That feeling of comfort and content I experienced in my dreams had been invading my subconscious brain so frequently now that I constantly looked forward to falling asleep every night. Because I had lost the real thing, I yearned for that sense of completeness that I only ever felt when I was dreaming of him. I longed for his arms to capture me and to hold me tight like they had so many times before, even if it was only in my dreams.
My heart sank, and I could feel the anger stirring inside of me. How could you let this happen? You were stupid, careless, and now you’re alone. You did this to yourself, and he is never going to come back to you. I hate you for what you’ve done.
That had become the ever-present voice inside my head. I could never forgive myself for the carelessness and selfishness I had exhibited. My conscience was right; this was all my fault and I’d truly lost the best thing I’d ever had. How was I to move on from this? It seemed that my worst enemy had become myself, constantly shouting “you can’t change” and “you’ll always mess up”. I felt defeated. I felt like I was good for nothing, and that I would continue to hurt the people I care about.
It had never occurred to me that one accidental kiss, with one jerk, would not only take away the greatest relationship I could have imagined, but would wound my self confidence for months to come. It had never occurred to me that because of my mistake, my life would begin to spiral out of control…
They say that it is better to love and to have lost than to have never loved at all, but who are “they”, and does that apply for us all? The reconstruction of my teenage heart was a grueling and tedious process, and my heart might’ve thanked me if I had made an effort to avoid it. Perhaps everything happens for a reason, regardless of the possibility that you may never uncover its reason, leaving you broken, empty, and confused, but we get through it; whatever it is.
The teenage years don’t come equipped with an eraser or a delete button, although sometimes we wish they did. But perhaps, if they did, we wouldn’t learn things about ourselves that are vital towards who we really are. Being a teenager isn’t about wishing you could take things back, it’s about making the best out of the things that have happened and the cards you’ve been dealt.
The air was cold that night as I listened to the breeze rustling the leaves on the tree overhead. This was the last time I would be visiting this monumental oak tree, because as I picked myself up the ground and walked away, I left my baggage idle under the tree.