The following is not a work of fiction. Dylan asked me to run it as a favor, and I’m doing so. If you’re not familiar with his work, see this and this and this and this previously published in this blog. The strange way the Internet sometimes works — despite its date of Monday, I only got it in my emailbox today, Friday, August 10.
I know I’ve always told you that your memory is second in line to none. But I’m willing to lay healthy odds that even you don’t remember what the weather was like at Point Au Roche that Sunday in early April.
It’s Monday and it’s mid-August.
It’s early evening, gray, shadowy, and quiet. The pitter-patter of raindrops on the hood and roof of my car outside is the only sound keeping me from going stark staring mad.
I keep thinking of something Lincoln once said: “I don’t claim to have controlled events; but confess plainly that events have controlled me.”
Earlier, I watched your CR-V disappear out of eyeshot and into the mist on Ridge Top Road. It occurs to me now that I may never see you or your CR-V on Ridge Top Road again. And it breaks my heart.
Simply put (too simply), I don’t quite know how this happened to us. With you gone, there isn’t anything familiar left. Just me and Esme again. Boy, when you lose someone, you really are reminded of their importance in your story.
I didn’t need any reminders.
I’ve kept in mind your importance in my story every day since our first meeting at Mangia. I never, ever—for a half-second, even—took you or our chance meeting in this tremendous world for granted.
You’ve been slipping through my fingers for weeks now and I could never understand why. I still can’t. It doesn’t make sense to me. It doesn’t register. I close my eyes and think of the memories we’ve made—the good, the bad, the funny, the genuine—and can’t help but feel like it’s far too soon to end the making of these memories. I stare at the wall and see these memories—they play like a silent movie: the first time I shook your right hand with my left; the time you searched for capers through my dinner; the way you looked on that chilly night when we skipped rocks at Point Au Roche; the first time I met Jeremiah; the time in Koffee Kat when that old bastard asked if I was in the same counselor program as you; the balloon/Blockbuster incident; the first time I saw you in your cowgirl shirt and hat at Washland and how I thought to myself I’d never laid eyes on a girl like you before; the first time we kissed on your couch in the middle of the night; the time I got comfortable in the passenger’s seat and forgot to put your wheelchair away; the time your mom called me Collin; the time at the theatre when I leaned over, my knees shaking, and asked you to go steady and you said, “Thanks;” the time Esme pissed on your rabbit; the first time we went to Guma’s and had our ears assaulted by the hipster girls on cellular phones sitting behind us; the first time we walked together and how I wanted so badly to kiss you but couldn’t get up the courage; the time I fell backwards out of your wheelchair in that ditch outside your apartment; how excited I always got when I received a midnight text message from you; the time I said goodnight to you after promising that I’d stay put; the first time we ordered in and watched a movie on your couch; the time we necked in your country kitchen while basking in the early summer sun; the time at Perkins when you went to the bathroom and Jeremiah pitched a fit—I was lost; the time at Lake Eaton when you made PB & J sandwiches on the CR-V picnic table; the way it felt to hold you in front of the camera in Time’s Square; the time we returned the chair at Target and told the customer service lady that it didn’t match the rest of our patio furniture; the long, sweaty drive from New Jersey to the Adirondacks; the way you looked the first time I saw you wake up in the morning; the way you looked the first time I leaned over and said goodnight to you. The way you looked this afternoon from a slight distance through your mist-shrouded windshield while I spoke with your sister on my porch.
What a wonderful, wonderful time we’ve had together—why you’ve chosen to end it now is beyond my level of comprehension. The only thing I’ve ever wanted for you, my sweet, sweet girl, is the world. I wanted to give you everything because, in my opinion, you deserve everything. The thought of never holding your hands again makes my eyes tear and forms a lump in my throat. The thought of never rubbing your October arms again makes the lump in my throat bigger. And the thought of you with some jerk-off guy-guy who could never—in two thousand billion years—feel for you the way I do, makes me want to vomit.
Perhaps I’m still in shock. Winded. Suckerpunched. The Adirondacks will not be the same without you by my side. Nothing will be the same without you by my side. Maybe I’m an idealistic son of a bitch, but goddamn it, I wanted you to be by my side forever, and vice versa. I’ve always looked at our chance meeting as something truly unique and extraordinary, a twist of fate—you took me off the road and gave me shelter; you made me see a side of the world I’d forgotten about; you made me the happiest bastard in the world. I’m sorry that your interest in me has changed. I don’t know why it has, but I’m sure you have your reasons. Please know that my interest in you has not changed. I’ve meant every word I’ve ever said to you, and the thought of moving ahead with nothing but memories of you makes my innards burn. For all the comfort they may provide, memories are little more than a reminder that things can never be the same; that the past is gone forever.
I’ve been kicked when I’ve been down before—so many times it’s a miracle I still function—but I’ve always gotten back up. This time won’t be so easy. I was still on my knees when we met four months ago. My heart is broken…but still beating. I’ll somehow manage to shrug this off and get back on my feet. I don’t know how right now, but I will. And when I do, I’ll get back on track and turn both books into bestsellers (you heard it here first).
You’re once in ten lifetimes, Chelsea. It’s stupid, irresponsible, and foolish to let you slide away. Of course, the decision here isn’t all mine. If it were up to me, I’d never let you go, because I’m smart enough to know a good thing when I see it. I’m smart enough to know that certain things do not come around twice. You’re my snow globe girl—I’ll always think of you that way. I’ll always know you belong inside of one—far away from seedy, slimy guy-guys who only want you for one thing; safely tucked away and out of range of the evils this world produces.
As I sit here in my bedroom—blankets, pillows, sweatshirts all around me, I’m reminded that these are artifacts of a gentler time. Losing someone is never easy—losing the last person in your life is even less easy. I’ll always want the very best for you, my Chelsea. I know you’ll never meet anybody who feels about you the way I do—it just isn’t possible. But I’ll always hope you find what it is you’re looking for in this cruel, dog-eat-dog world. With autumn—and ultimately winter—closing in, I’ll often think of you and wonder what you’re reading, what you’re thinking, and from where you’re doing it. I’ll think of Jeremiah and wonder if he’s still making growling noises when you say the word tiger. I’ll wonder what could’ve been between us, had you not changed your heart. I’ll wonder if there are two people like us sitting on the beach at Point Au Roche on the verge of an unspoken crisis like we were yesterday. I’ll wonder about a lot of things. And I’ll miss a lot of things.
It’s Monday and it’s mid-August.