An open letter to an ex-lover:
I had thought that I would write the whole of our love story and send it to you – a missive of heartbreak and loss, growth, destruction, building up and tearing down. It would end with – I have loved you so long, I don’t know how not to.
But I could never begin it. Where do I start?
Our first kiss? The laughing joke shared with drunken strangers in the awful dirty light of a sticky bar. Our eyes meeting, yours crinkled at the corner, your full lips parted with your smile; as the two barflies teased us with words and sharp drunken elbows, “come on, kiss her”. I asked you, “well?” with my eyes and you answered, “well, why not” and kissed me with such gentle finesse that, when our lips parted, my eyes remained closed for thirty seconds or more. I knew then that I wanted many more of your kisses.
Or no – I should begin with how I first knew that I was beginning to love you – your smell. The smell of you sweaty with sleep, the scent caught in your beard and the crook of your shoulder and long dark hair. I would burrow into it and inhale the pure essence of you. You laughed at me, bemused (oh how we LAUGHED in the beginning). Your smell was honey. It was sunshine. It was hard work, grass, calluses, clean soap. It was so uniquely yours and yet it reminded me of the smell Ani emitted when she would sleep as a baby – that deep and dreamless sleep that she would give herself over to completely. This is how you gave yourself to all things in life; obsessively, whole heartedly, jumping in with both feet and no hesitation.
Or should I begin with the first night that we spent together, when I told you my fight story with false bravado, a quivering smile, and a shrug of dismissal. You took my still bruised knuckles into your large rough hands and brought them to your lips. You kissed them so tenderly and then – and then you bit them; just as gently took them in your teeth and a thrill went through my entire body as you looked up at me with those dark dark eyes and said, “Oh little one, you have no need to fight anymore”.
I should tell the story of the song you wrote for me, describing my hair twirling, my nervous lip biting, all of those tiny little tics I carried with me unconsciously. You could never finish it, the lyrics lay half written on the coffee table for months and then disappeared, only to be brought out as you strummed the Gibson passed to you by your grandfather, and stared at nothing. There had been songs written before, songs where I was supposedly the muse. But your song nearly made me weep, my heart would swell into my throat every time you sang it. Perhaps now you will finish it.
I cannot begin our story. I don’t know when it really began. At the scarred oak booth where you slid in across from me with your sardonic smile and tired feet? With the kite you bought for me after I looked at the clouds and declared it “kite flying weather”? Your hands, your smile, your laughter, your lyrics – they had no beginning, they sprang to life from the dust of broken hearts and lost dreams.
We thought our love was so great, so grand, that it would endure where others failed. We would last for ages. I don’t know when you stopped thinking that way. I realized one day that you stopped talking of the places you wanted to take me, you stopped saying how you wanted to be a better person for me, your kisses faltered, your laughter stilled. I just know that it did, indeed, have an ending.
I would like to say that I hope the best for you. That I hope you find love and happiness, marry an uncomplicated girl with open embraces and lollipop fucking dreams (the opposite of me and all of my foibles). I don’t. You had me. That was all you should have needed. Do not go on. Do not be happy. Do not forget me. I hope I reside in your soul until the day you die as a regret, a warning, a reminder. There is no happy ending here, pal, only an ending.