The lights were bright and so were my eyes. The buildings towered over me as I passed going what seemed like the speed of sound. Time slowed, and yet seemed to be going faster than usual. I was here. STOP. There I was, and there he was. Waiting, with his face trying not to show the relief that I made it. I got out of the cab and into one of the previously meaningless buildings until I realized it would be where I sleep that night. And boy, did I sleep.
I woke up the next morning with an aching back, but what can you expect from sleeping on the wood floors for a few hours. I had showered the night before, no need to waste someone else's water just for redundancy. Looking back, I'm not sure what I did that day, or many of the days that followed. The things that stick out now are the long moments spent in the hallways, staring out the window that looked into the lives of people in the adjacent building. Their lives, framed in windowpanes.
There was that time when I first realized there was no going back. When I looked in his face, in his eyes, and found myself needing him. There were all the times he found me staring out that single window, tears stinging my eyes, screaming on the inside but not daring to make an audible sound. There was the time I called back home to her, and she spoke words of encouragement that only discouraged me at the time. There were all the hours and days I let myself get my hopes up that maybe, just maybe the girl I invested so much time in would call.
Maybe she made her mind up that night we left the diner that she was done with me. Maybe it wasn't until my traitorous ex lover got to her days later and convinced her I was no longer worth the effort. Or maybe, just maybe, she walked into the diner that night knowing it would be the last time she ever spoke to me, and she was perfectly okay with that. Whatever it was, she was gone, and he wasn't.
I specifically remember the night I took a long bath to wash my hair, and after neatly wrapping it up in a towel, went into the hallway to call home to my overbearing yet loving mother. I remember hearing my name, and walking to the door opposite the one I lived in. I remember hearing them, in that apartment, taking their time to share petty comments and insults at my expense. I remember not being able to dial my mom's number. I remember walking up the stairs and staring out a single window, willing myself to climb out and escape into the night. I remember the tears, and I remember the darkness that surrounded any optimism I could ever have again.
I remember him. I remember him beckoning to me as I stood on the stairs, hands shaking, phone against my hear. I remember bidding my dear friend farewell as I angrily confronted him. I remember him being so sincere, so confused about everything. I remember my voice trembling in my throat as it escaped my lips with malice. I remember sneaking into a room quietly and hearing the vindictive she-devil denying it all. I remember sneaking out again, so no one would know I heard it all. I remember sitting at the top of the building, by the door to the rooftop, face in hands, soaking up the salty water pouring from my eyes.
And then I remember him walking up those stairs. I remember him tiptoeing around his words and carefully gaining proximity to me to offer comfort. I remember the time he spent staring down at me and choosing his words carefully. I remember him finally lifting me up and taking me in his arms and speaking words that the other one never had. I remember my face in his hands, his lips pressed against mine. I remember walking down those stairs knowing something new.
If you were to ask me why I stayed through all the mental torture and screaming going on inside my head, I could tell you why. I could try to get you to understand. I could attempt to paint a picture for you. I could tell you about the way he looks at me, or the way he brushes my hair out of my face before he kisses me. I could remind you of all the times I had no one there, and nothing to distract my not-so distract-able brain, and he was there with nothing but kind words and a smile. But you wouldn't understand. You would write me off as the girl that fell for a guy and left everything behind for him.
Okay, you wouldn't be totally off. If I said he played no part in my quest to come here, I would be a liar. However, the other parts of my motivation to come here are something for an entire different entry altogether.
What I will never understand is how he can be who he is with me. I don't understand how someone can be compassionate when the person they try to make smile only snaps at them for making an effort. I am not entirely sure how I would handle me at my worst, but then again, I guess I cant handle myself. That's where the other people come in. That's where the mother comes in, That's where the friends come in, and That's where he comes in. I could try to explain the extent of my mental instability at times, but you wouldn't understand until you actually looked at me everyday for a month and listened to every single terrible and miserable thing I said. You wouldn't understand the way he does because he talks to me when I don't want to talk. He pins me on the bed and gets in my face and forces the emotions out of me that I hold in for so long, for no reason other than my own shame at feeling them in the first place.
All my life I thought the city I lived in defined my happiness, among other factors. What I find a bit ironic is that the same city I grew up hating is the city where I found the one person that makes me feel most alive. Despite the resentment I held for that town, it is home to where my real story began. I remember the first time he looked at me and asked if I wanted to come with him. At the time, the idea of getting out of that miserable town was so exciting I never second guessed my decision. But looking back, that town gave birth to my relationship I now hold so dear. It was boring, it was dreadful at times, and it could easily win Most Depressing City in the United States. But out of that mundane, out of that ordinary, I spent time with and grew with someone extraordinary.
The first time I had felt alive in months was in my basement. Me and him had gone to the park and tried to meet up with some other people, to no avail. We spent hours in my basement, talking. As the clock's hands turned, the time flew. Somehow, over the course of a few hours, we brought ourselves to be mere inches away from each other. I sat in a chair as he kneeled in front of me, arms self consciously draped around the small of my back. Our words came to a halt for a few moments, not out of lack of things to say though. He leaned in and put his hands on my face. My lips trembled, and my mind slowed to a dead halt. Brace myself for impact. His lips landed on mine. EXPLOSION.
Pulling away, he looked at me for a moment, his eyes unsure. He stuttered out, "I didn't think you would kiss me." Funny enough, I felt like I was 15 again. Here was a boy, a man, many years older than me, and yet still so unsure of himself it echoed the uncertainty of high school. Yet that was the cutest thing he could have said to me. The lack of sarcasm or cockiness was exactly the opposite of what I saw coming. That night, in my poorly lit basement I looked at the guy I once only thought of as a drunken good time party boy in a completely new way. After all, I hadn't felt alive in months.
Six months later, most people have lost the fire. But when I look at him, no matter how angry I am, or how terrible my day has been, I still see that guy in my basement. And now, when I kiss him, my heart is on fire. My mind explodes upon impact every time. I've had a lot of short flings, on and off relationships, and people who slowly fade away from me over time. Maybe I let some of them go because deep down I knew I would be better off without them. Maybe I had no control of them leaving. But if I even sensed for a moment that he was fading away, I would pull him out of my daydreams and fantasies and press myself up against his real life chest, just to feel his heartbeat against mine.
The lights were bright and so were my eyes. But not because I was in a new and exciting city. No, my eyes were bright because when I stepped out of that cab, he was waiting for me, and continues to illuminate my eyes and keep me shining bright, despite all of the darkness that may surround us.