“We were together, I forget the rest.” ~ Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
Once upon a time, we lost ourselves inside each other.
We gave until it hurt. We found ways to connect, ways that made us feel unbreakable.
Once upon a time, we called it love.
We called it heaven, destiny, twin flame energy, soulmate territory. We called it meant to be. We were an entity.
Once upon a time, you looked at me, your eyes all bright and blue and fearless; you looked at me with a fire that melted my soul. You made my chocolate brown eyes puddle, looking back at you, all soft and full and mellow.
Once upon a time, we dreamed about our future together, how we would make it happen, make it work, how we would eventually just be, living inside each other’s orbit, circling each other’s sun, aligned yet gloriously ourselves, independent, but part of a moving, living unit.
Once upon a time, I thought we were possible. I thought it was just a matter of time, a matter of life shifting, a matter of figuring things out, like how to get from point A to point B, a matter of putting all our scattered, messy puzzle pieces together cohesively.
I was breathless, but my thoughts were centered, focused on you and your happiness and making things better for you, which would somehow make things better for me.
I was a giver, relentless. Oh, how I piled on the love.
“We were together, I forget the rest,” the paraphrased quote from “Leaves of Grass,” the one artistically burned onto the little decorative sign above our bed in the cozy alcove where we looked at our phones and tickled each other and talked into the wee hours about all the distant, but probable things we would do together, got us quite wrong. We were together, I forget the rest, and yet, I remember everything.
I remember how you looked at me, how you made up nicknames for me, terms of endearment, your monikers, they made me weak for some reason, the way your eyes sparkled, you made me giddy, you made me feel loved beneath my skin, which made me love you even more.
Once upon a time, you held my face, and you kissed me with purpose, on my eyes, on my mouth, on my ears, on my neck, you pulled me in, almost inside of you, you wrapped your arms around me like a weighted thunder blanket, squeezing my torso, releasing my fears into the sunrises and sunsets of our daily lives, and I felt nothing, nothing but safe and secure in my knowing that I was truly safe and secure.
Once upon a time, you cared for me, enough to buy me little trinkets, little things that reminded you of me, moments in stores and flea markets and roadside farm-stands where you pulled out your wallet and flashed your GQ smile, forking over a bit of cash, hoping I would like it, whatever it was that caught your eye that day. You cared enough to find the perfect little thing, a flower, a ripe tomato, a satchel of tea leaves, a heart-shaped rock, a little something something that would make me squeal with delight because you knew me inside and out.
Once upon a time, we had our quiet moments, the times we didn’t say much, lost within our own little worlds, telling ourselves all the things we desperately wanted to hear inside our own heads because we couldn’t say them out loud, the difficult things, the hurtful things we couldn’t work out, the selfish things we knew were slowly chipping away at our solid block of that growing facade thing we called happiness.
When it rains, you’ll remember me shivering, my teeth chattering. You’ll remember how cold I felt to the touch. When you watch a poignant film, when you’re feeling emotional and vulnerable and your eyes well up, you may remember my tears, how they flowed like a rushing river, all painful and yearning and sorry, how we finally said goodbye, how we held space for each other without bitterness.
Once upon a time, I thought I’d be the only woman you ever loved completely.
I’m not, but I’m the one you’ll always remember. That’s for damn sure.
Once upon a time was not that long ago, but yes, we called it love.