I pulled your college sweatshirt on, my ponytail traipsing through at the end of the motion and wallowing into the loosely hanging hood. You caught my hand, fingers entwining like a safely fastened zipper as you pressed your nose against mine and smiled. You were always in the lead; taking the first steps, you led me out the back door, along the path of stepping stones, down the sleepy suburban street and around the corner. Making our way into the drive up to the creaky wooden porch where you were to drop me off, you stopped so suddenly that I banged into you; I immediately laughed but all you could do was gesture toward the expansive stretch of sky.
What beautiful stars they were. And on such a beautiful night: Saturday, mid-July, the slightest chill in the air and almost pitch black if not for the few staggering street lights. We stood there marveling, necks craned back and mouths hanging open, hands still locked, not caring about the minutes ticking by or the voices coming from inside the tiny house.
“We took the long way to your house,
and I can still hear the sound of you saying, ‘Don’t go.'”
You buried your face into my hair, the warmth of your breath fanning out on my neck as you kissed me in the tiniest of spots. Fireflies sparked around us, giving extra illumination to the dismally dark backyard, and we could have stood there all night in that single embrace. But you eventually pulled away and kissed my lips and I swear that even though my eyes were closed, I could still see the sparks of all those tiny little fireflies.
As a final gesture, you gathered me in your arms and lifted me closer to that grand canopy of stars. And while I took in the spectacular view of the Little Dipper and Orion’s Belt, you only kept your eyes on me. You whispered that you’d kiss me for every single star we could see.
“Even though you’re a million miles away,
do you relive those glory days from so long ago?”
I find photographs from all those high school dances, me with eyeshadow covered lids and you always in a tie. Photos of me in your university sweatshirt, with the first stuffed animal you ever gave me. You with your arm around me at a party. You kissing me on the cheek while I do nothing but smile. I find instant messenger conversations from time to time and laugh at the nicknames we gave each other. And the plans we made for the next weekend. And the comments we made about our future (and how some of those came true). And how every fight was minuscule and solved within ten minutes time. And I frequently smile at how young we were, at how innocently young we were and how we were in love.
And it’s funny how things change. How you once said you’d never be anything less than my boyfriend. How you once talked about us living together and making breakfast every morning. How you would say ‘I love you’ at any moment of the day, under no required circumstances at all. How I could call you in the middle of the night and not think twice. How I could stay on the other end of the line and just listen to you breathing for hours, without any concern in the world.
From time to time, I pick up my phone and look at your name. I stare at the place where I would type a text message and I contemplate all the things I could say. And the blinking cursor just stares back at me, eager to list out my words in electronic type. But I always let it down. I always close the message and toss the phone to the other side of the bed, until the moment when I dare to pick it up and repeat those steps all over again.
But when you think about me, do you think about seventeen? Think about the stars in the sky? Funny how a melody sounds like a memory, like a soundtrack to a July Saturday night.