July 16th 2013
I asked my dad how long it took to get over his first wife while we made the one-hour drive to Amarillo, TX. My dad is actually my step dad, with a family and world before mine. But he is the second most consistent person in my life, behind my mom. He looked at me which such sweet sadness in his eyes, as his knuckles became marble from gripping the steering wheel.
Was he remembering his time before my mom? Was he hurting for me? Was he thinking about his children and the lives he missed out? I will never know what thoughts were behind this particular look that sculpted his face.
I could tell he was thinking very hard about the words he would choose to try and heal my heart. “2 years.”
September 6th 2009
Such a fateful day. After spending two glorious weeks of July in Europe, you finally emailed me. Did that make me a coward for not taking initiative first? 17 and skeptical, I suppose. 17 and guarded. 17 with the whole world at my feet. 17 and ambitious for everything but love. Who knew the journey would bring me to this moment.
October 6th, 2013
You called me during your dawn, it was too early, even for you. The 8-hour time difference meant you said good morning during my midnight – my, how we both used to long so passionately to share the same sunset. I remember the subtle staccato in your voice, the highs and lows of your morning noises, the small cracks between words in a language not your own… an indicator you had just awoken, from dreams that disturb your slumber. Your sleepy voice still made my heart ache for your touch.
At the end of the conversation you said something that would haunt me for many, many empty months to come. “I’ll get you back, I promise.”
February 1st, 2014
I stopped telling you sweet dreams. I haven’t uttered these words to anyone else since. We all say I love you in different ways, this was mine.
May 3rd, 2014
We skyped for the first time of 2014 at your request. Screens had always been the buffer of our long distant relationship. How I used to jolt with happiness at the sight of your name on my phone screen. And now I felt nothing for you. It was the first of many times that would confuse my soul and all its promises of lasting love.
January 6th, 2010
In a grand gesture of romance, I committed my heart to yours. The look in your eyes when you breathed yes in your mother tongue has never left my memory, but like all your transatlantic love letters, I have stored it away to be forgotten.
January 21st, 2010
You said “I love you” first. You were many of my firsts. But I have come to understand when it comes to love, it isn’t the first that matters the most, it’s the last.
January 1st, 2015
The last time you told me I love you. I know I said the last matters, but this is the exception. This had no meaning for me, so I didn’t say it back.
December 29th, 2011
I stepped off the plane feeling absolutely dizzy, greeted by the northern Greek wind. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the idea that I would soon be able to hug you, and this idea alone warmed me. The moment seemed unreal for my sturdy heart, and even now looking back, what a nice memory to be made.
I reached the terminal very lost as to where I could pick up my baggage. Literally in my head I kept repeating to myself, “it’s all Greek to me.” I’m a sucker for ill humor in serious situations.
Suitcase finally and safely in my possession, I stepped out into the welcoming area of the airport, and there you were. Standing there waiting for me, your eyes caught mine and you instantly smiled. And it wasn’t your fake smile, or the smile you use in pictures, or the smile you use with people to be polite… it was your genuine smile that touched every crease of your face.
I also still remember what you were wearing. A blue button down with your sleeves rolled at the crease of your elbow, a light brown cardigan, a belt around your waist, blue jeans, and your favorite old boots. Wrapped around your neck was a brown scarf, flower print – your mother’s, no doubt. You looked flawless then.
I walked up to you and we gave each other two kisses, one for each side of the face. The first kiss on the right cheek: formal. The second kiss on the left cheek: friendly.
We put my luggage in the back of your father’s truck and climbed into the back seat. I was tired, and going in an out of consciousness. But that’s all it took. The 20 minute drive to your home was all it took to make me fall in love with you. Your hand was on my leg, and you pressed the side of your body into mine as much as you could. You wanted to physically be close to me. I guess distant does that.
After having dinner at your mom’s house, we finally retired to your place. We laid in bed, wrapped in clean sheets. You were in my arms laughing and dragging your nose from my shoulder to my neck, memorizing my scent. I wanted to stay like this for as long as the universe would allow. You trapped my face in between your hands and kissed me full on. I felt your warm mouth envelope mine, and I was surprised, I had always imagined I’d make the first move. But I responded with gusto, and that night we lost ourselves innocently in each other. Aren’t these the moments we live for?
December 29th, 2014
After being drunk from sun up to sun down consecutively for 5 days to numb any ounce of emotion I still held for you, it was time to finally put an end to my Grecian romance. Learning you are in another relationship from you mother, and finding out on Christmas you had sex with another person – something finally changed inside me.
I knew going, I would get my heartbroken again, but had hope that maybe you still felt what I did – but you didn’t. But it would be for the last time. I had to know that I did everything humanly possible in my power. I guess I’m still a hopeless romantic.
The night before I boarded my plane you had the audacity to ask me to stay. You nuzzled your way into my arms and tucked your feet between my legs for warmth. Call me masochistic, but I relished the embrace and actually considered changing my plane ticket – but I didn’t. With time and distance, we would never get this chance again. So I gave in, and let myself feel everything I had ever felt for you on that last night together.
In the morning, I packed my things into your car and we drove with your friends to the airport. I had told your mother goodbye the night before because she had to take her father to a doctor’s appointment. I had tears in my eyes, and she couldn’t understand why because she knows I never shed water and salt. She didn’t know I had plans of never returning, and as much as I wanted to explain and tell her why, I know that that is a story for you to tell. But I will never, in all my life, forget how she made me feel like home thousands of miles away from my own mom.
We arrived at the airport early, which is extraordinarily surprising. I am hardly ever early for anything. This day must have been important. I was still tipsy, how else could I get through with all of this? It terrified me how much I relied on alcohol for these five days.
I sat down with my luggage to wait and you sat beside me, you put your hand over mine and I hated you for it. In that moment, I hated you so much for making me feel so many things and not having the courage to be open about it… but most of all, I hated myself, for who I had become at this point in time. And I promised myself then and there, I would never look back.
I made my way to security check, and said my last goodbyes. Your friends didn’t know that it would be our last meeting for a very long time either, and I preferred it this way. Finally, I turned to you. You kissed my right cheek: friendly. Then my left: formal. We looked at each other for a few seconds, and you began to cry. This confused me so much; did you still care? Your friends were a bit shocked too, and asked what was wrong, but you could only muster a weak smile in response. I rubbed my thumb under your eyes to wipe away your tears, and told you I would always care for you, and then I walked through security and didn’t look back. I didn’t look back for one last wave, I didn’t look back to see your whiskey eyes, I didn’t look back because I knew if I did, I would never get over you.
I arrived back in Madrid around 5:00 pm. Finally, familiar ground beneath my feet. I could deal with this. In one last attempt at self-destruction, I met with a Brazilian boy that night. Against everything my heart was screaming, I went home with him. I thought maybe if I had sex with someone else too, I could move on like you.
At some point he was on top of me, ready to make the plunge… haha, I know, I have terrible puns, and I just couldn’t. No matter how drunk out of my mind I was, I just couldn’t go through with the act and I stopped him. He was kind about it, but I could tell still irritated; men.
I walked towards the night buses, in tears from what I had almost done. I can’t even kiss someone just for fun, much less try and have sex with someone. Who I had become was such a stranger from who I wanted to be.
As I stumbled through streets of nightlife Madrid, I called my dad. I heard his voice across the wire, thousands of miles away, the sun about to set in Texas. He asked what was wrong, and I told him what had almost happened. I asked him not to tell my mom, because I didn’t want her to worry. I knew it hurt her so much to see me so heartbroken for the past year and a half. We talked, and all I can remember is my dad apologizing for my ex’s mistakes. And it was ridiculous that he was apologizing to me, but it comforted me to a degree that calmed my heart and allowed me some peace.
After this night, I promised myself I would get back to the person I used to be; I would become someone I could be proud of again.
January 8th, 2015
After work, I take a bus back to Madrid. My commute is about an hour and normally; I sleep this time away because children are exhausting.
But for some reason, I stayed awake, and I couldn’t be more grateful. I saw the most amazing sunset. The first sunset of the year that took my breath away. I didn’t know that could still happen to me, to be so in awe again. I felt full of life; I felt happy.
It was the first time in such a long period, that I really looked at something and marveled. I was going to be okay, and every day would get better. Every day I would become better. And that has been my goal ever since. To be as honest as I can with the people I love and every new soul I encounter, and to improve myself daily. To take up writing and photography again, and do things that fill my heart with love, and surround myself with people that care deeply for me too.
I am falling in love with me. Self-love is so radical.