In the same way I reminisce in simple days of bicycling on Jefferson Avenue and being able to successfully study 35 minutes before the exam, it’s challenging to not miss the lucidity of seeing you for the first time in Summer 2013.
While I’ve learned the commotion of missing someone often summons sensations of heartache, missing you has always offered the sensations of silk samples from Jo-Ann Fabrics, sips of lukewarm lemonade and savings accounts seeming full with only $25 in them.
Ultimately, they’re the type of daydreams one appreciates while reading young adult novels on rainy April afternoons or hammocking on the first warm evening following a polar vortex.
In a moment now feeling inaccessible in the glimmers of our underappreciated youths and lack of driver’s licenses, I was riding my bicycle home from swim practice.
My hair was smooshed in one of those sloppy buns I frequently regret wearing too much. The chunks of rutted and uneven strands flapping behind my neck were nearly platinum, commemorating the time I tried removing a glob of bubblegum from my hair with a pair of scrapbook scissors.
During the time I was still too terrified to leave my house without a training bra, I saw you cruising in the black and sangria red mountain bike your parents bought for you in hopes of making up for their divorce three years ago. Although I struggle to remember the designs on your baseball cap or why you were wearing a hoodie and a fleece jacket in August, I remember the Tupac lyrics dripping from your headphones and the evident look of you contemplating if you were actually cool enough to be a Tupac fan.
I vividly remember lying on the floor of my grandparents’ bathroom, cocooned in dandelion colored towels while I analyzed my feelings for you. My skin, before ever being seared with tattoos from Myrtle Beach, was essentially untouched by reality’s flurries of crisp air and wake up calls I still try so hard to ignore.
My mind was puzzled on if I should dare message you back because you identified as atheist and I yearned anxiously to return to the sunkissed grasses and donation-purchased coffee of being a teenage missionary and the photo child for loving Jesus.
Our bodies dissolved slowly into the benevolent simplicities of your mother’s faux fur throw while the 2016 presidential primaries were anatomized from the television screen. We loved dribbling into one another, swaddling deeply in the snugness of May’s golden hours and a cruel naiveté of never being able to learn how to properly love each other.
Above the tan leather seats of your 2002 Jeep Liberty, we incautiously scrutinized the issues in ourselves we never felt mature enough to admit having. I revealed being a dwindling Homecoming Queen fundamentally petrified I peaked in high school and although I was the captain of the varsity swim team, I wasn’t actually that good at swimming. You babbled about being confined by the illustration of a Catholic school jock despite being a football-hating agnostic who was a mediocre baseball player at best.
We flapped in the style of dewy-eyed goldfish and submerged deeper into the sun-smooched aquarium we created for ourselves.
Eventually, we were drowning so magnificently in afternoons copious in electrified hand-holding, the background ambiance of SoundCloud rappers and visits from the black cat I never thought you deserved.
There was a day, the type where rain drizzles from lemon-shaded clouds and the sun continues to shimmer through the likes of a vintage Instagram filter, we thought was going to be our last time together--it obviously wasn’t.
You said we couldn’t be together because our destinies don't align properly; you said I was going to be the president of the United States and move forward toward world domination while you were destined to manage a coterie of ethically questionable hedge funds and marry a succession of ignorable trophy wives.
In college, we easily achieved in the beginner levels of our destinies. You joined one of those underground fraternities best recognized for spanking 19 year-olds with putt-putt golf gloves and hosting the type of parties where girls dress up as deer and men dress up as hunters. I became a power-hungry journalism student and turtleneck-obsessed feminist who is ultimately overinvolved, extremely talkative and spends a little too much time drinking matcha lattes in the coffee shop you’ve never heard of.
Your summers will be spent chugging Corona in torn up flannels with an entourage of buddies with low alcohol tolerances, Jordan Belfort autobiographies and the type of narcissism I have yet to achieve.
My bare stomach and chest will be anchored to the tangled and damp grass best known for infuriating your skin, which was always far more soft and delicate than mine.
In this new summer, made excessively vibrant by the shades of my individual bliss and the ambiance produced by mystical DJs and hopeless romantics drinking Soft Parade beer, I will forget about you and the 2002 Jeep Liberty.
Hippies knighted by sunflower crowns, crystal necklaces and mandala tapestries will decorate my naked back with common daisies, bursts of marigolds and pansies with Crayola paints. My hair will be kept unbrushed and under washed beneath the sun, my skin turning crimson and my mind expanding to the rhythms of psychedelic jam bands and trap bass.
I’ll smoke cones packed tightly with marijuana and listen to Fleetwood Mac, ignoring the reminiscence of you as I am elevated into the life I always desired for myself.
Then I will see you, buying tequila shots for your fraternity brothers with the money you preserved from your summertime, amature lawn mowing business. While T-Pain’s “Bartender” slurs through the crowded bar, congested with chipped cups of rum and coke and minors with fake IDs belonging to the entire drinking population of Indiana, the mores of my animation and spunkiness will sink through the floor. They dodge the shattered glass of Bud Light bottles, aluminum curls of $2 Natural Light and the trail of bobby pins forgotten by girls trying to rock space buns and braided crowns.
As the floor evaporates beneath my feet, I am returned to the time I said I wanted to be cliche with you, and you agreed.
Our friends stare at us in both astonishment and bewilderment, as the extroverts known for going a little too hard to Machine Gun Kelly’s “Wild Boy” and wearing outrageous sunglasses to neon-lit dance clubs are stripped of their confidence and vigorous assertiveness, unveiling the uncertainties of their youth.
We no longer know how to dive headfirst into the other’s embrace, so we poorly suffice with an awkward hug and mumbled greetings.
“Big baller,” you murmured as I cut you in line and pay for a shot with cash. Immediately after the words fall out, you stagger away, unbalanced and tremendously aware of how pathetic you sounded.
As we left alone for the night, I couldn’t help but smile.
We have the truest love, youthful and non-beautified and served with liters of Mountain Dew and beefy fritos burritos from Taco Bell. But despite an epic division, I can’t help but grin at second-hand bicycle shops and Tupac posters in college dorm rooms.
For a guy like you, I’ll only write the nicest things for those warmly weathered drives in a 2002 Jeep Liberty.