She walked in as I was casually sprawled out on the couch, basking in the much-anticipated sunlight Madrid had been greedily withholding.
The day was pleasant, like a warm lingering hug in the middle of December, and I was in an extraordinary mood considering the circumstances between my visitor and my heart.
I looked at her lazily, with no intention of redirecting my attention to her presence, but in between my half yawn she thrust her left hand forward with a ring on the holy finger and asked, “whose is this? It’s so pretty but it’s not mine!”
It’s amazing how the past always seems to catch up with the present.
It stunned me to see this memoir of a past love reappear uninvited, and for a moment, I was transported back on the shores of northern Greece. The white sand of Halkidiki between my toes, a lemon flavored beer bottle between my salt stained lips, and your beautiful whiskey eyes looking out into the distance at a small table in the middle of the sea that we wanted to sit at together.
I’ve fallen in love, an infinite amount of times, and all with the same person.
Two summers ago, I spent a lifetime with you by the sea. It was the summer you learned how to drive and paid an indecent amount of money for your license. But there was excitement in your eyes. I think you were nervous, filled with an out of your body ecstasy to finally be able to drive me around your country, since the previous summer we trekked along Route 66 on a grand road trip on my side of the world.
The look in your eyes made my heart still that day on the beach. I had come to understand you as a child of the sea. Water was your element, calm and healing, essential for survival, and a basic necessity on Maslow’s hierarchy.
We didn’t make it out to the table that day, because sea urchins littered the shallow water and there was no way I’d risk you getting hurt. Your hand was in mine, as we walked towards your car to head back to your summerhouse. I was quiet, more so than usual. You started jokingly singing my favorite Spanish song in your Grecian accent to get a reaction from me.
Todo cambió cuando te vi… el universo escribío que fueras para mi.
I don’t know if you understood what you were saying, but I looked at you and committed this moment to memory. I felt your promise ring press against my own, as you squeezed your fingers between mine with a smile gracing your face. Heart brimming with love, I told you at that moment that if I ever proposed to you, it would be out in the sea, on that table at this very same spot; our spot. You simply kissed me as a response, and now every time I taste the ocean, it’s you I’m thinking of.
Shaking my head to escape the memory, I looked up at my friend, someone who harbored ships of feelings for me now; feelings I couldn’t return. It was ironic, to see this ring on another person’s hand.
My mom had sent my friend a few of my personal belongings that I wanted with me in Spain, including a handbag. Surprisingly, the handbag contained the promise ring my epic love had given me and had fallen out into her suitcase. Honestly, up until that point, I had thought I had lost it, which didn’t bother me. I didn’t want to be reminded of the past, but here it was, invading my present life. Reminding me of the person I had lost. The universe is funny that way.
I laughed off the incident and nonchalantly explained in few words that it was a gift from you. I don’t know what my friend was thinking at that moment, because she removed it without saying much and we didn’t speak of it again.
That night we went to one of my favorite places in Madrid: Temple of Debod, an ancient Egyptian temple from the 2nd century BC. Around the 1960s, Spain helped Egypt save numerous archeological monuments from disaster. As a token of appreciation, Egypt in turn presented Spain with the Temple of Debod. It’s located in Parque de Oeste, and sits above the city, where the view is magical.
The trick, is to watch the weather carefully, to know when the sunset will be at its finest aesthetically. It’s fitting really, because the temple is dedicated to Isis, goddess of the sky, and what an extraordinary one it was that night.
The sunset taught me a great lesson that night as I silently watched it with two childhood companions.
Not all toxic people are cold-hearted. A lot of them actually care very deeply, with good intentions. But good intentions don’t always translate correctly into actions. And so, they are simply toxic because their emotional needs are different from our own, and their way of existing in the world forces us to compromise our own happiness and self-worth. They aren’t bad people, they just aren’t the right people, and that’s okay. You have to let them go, no matter how hard it is. When it comes to your own well being, you have every right to leave for yourself; and you don’t owe anyone an explanation, although it is nice to give one, but even then, they probably won’t understand your reasoning anyway… and still, it’s okay.
May 18, 2015
I’m not a great writer; I just have a great memory.