Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Forgotten Photo

A red fabric scrapbook sits underneath a bed, coated in a thick layer of dust. It was a gift from me to him years ago. The first few pages are full of photographs and mementos. The rest was left blank, intended to be filled with more of the same by now. But it's still blank. Still just a bit forgotten as life transpired over those years.

The story begins simply enough: two just-barely-adults who met by chance. Or destiny, if you're prone to believe in those sorts of things. It was a chance encounter; a stroke of dumb luck.

The nearly-empty scrapbook has been dusted off and pulled out a handful of times since it was filed away in the dust and clutter under that bed.

It's the photographs that whisk me back--the moments I had temporarily forgotten that still have such power over my heart.

It's this one I love the most. It wasn't long after we met in late 2002 that he left for a co-op in Arlington, Virginia. Back when he wanted to be an engineer, not a teacher. It would be easier if we dated other people, we agreed.

I remember the ribbed black turtleneck I wore. I had just gotten over mono. He was so concerned for me; carefully watching over me from a distance to be sure I was OK. A pattern that remains intact today.

More than anything, that photo reminds me the most powerful thing that exists in this world isn't our words.

It's what we don't say.

It was about the way he looked at me. The way he still looks at me.

Months later, after a few drinks, I would call him in tears and confess I didn't want to see other people. I only wanted to see him. And that, as they say, was that.

Love is such a funny thing because it's not just one thing; it's an intricately woven tapestry of many, many things that cannot be easily described with words. It just is.

This is why the concept of falling in love has always baffled me. You're in or you're out. The way I see it, there's no middle ground.

That night eleven years ago, wearing that turtleneck and that stupid flippy blond hairdo---I knew. I didn't know what I knew, but I could feel it.

No one had ever looked at me like that before. It was electric.

And still today, I can touch that photo and be whisked back to the start of something beautiful. A patient man with bright blue eyes who looked at me that way.

I'm not an easy person to love. I'm as needy as I am staunchly independent. As stubborn as I am sweet. As tough as I am soft. My tongue is very sharp, but my heart is very easily bruised.

Love is everything that anyone who has written about it says it is. But for me, it's moments in time. Captured as they happened. Carefully placed in a scrapbook.

Forgotten momentarily, underneath my bed.

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