I departed New York City with the taste of pizza on my tongue, and the realization that my toothbrush still sat on his bathroom sink. As Newark shrunk into the distance, I chided myself for not splurging on the JFK tickets so I could have seen the City skyline just one more time. Especially since this time I had no idea how long it would be until I returned.
The sun peaked out from behind the clouds and I felt its warmth like a stolen kiss; fleeting but oh so wonderful. It made me think of stolen kisses in hallways and common rooms; stolen glances across crowded spaces; whispered words and nonsense secrets when we embraced alone in the dark. Those words we would never remember, but the moments we would never forget.
As I watched the clouds drift by, I thought about all the times I had tried to change, and how many times I had failed. Every moment of pain and heartbreak flashed through my head, and I wondered why I’d let it go on so long, why I’d let myself play the victim over and over again. All those hours telling myself I’m worthless when the world was screaming the opposite.
Why had I done that? Was it out of a sense of entitlement for more, or for guilt of not being happy with my lot? I’d always told myself I deserved more, better, best, even as I was telling myself I hated myself. How did that make any sense?
I know you saw it – you stood by me for every second of it. How much, I wondered, did it hurt you to see me so in pain? Did you know it was my own stress and neuroses which caused my cruel words? I prayed you knew it was that and nothing you had done, for you had been nothing but a blessing since the moment you stepped into my life – one that I could no longer dream of living without. You were too much a part of my life to ever lose you in any capacity; your smile made my heart burn, your eyes on me gave me butterflies. Going a day, nevermind a lifetime, without your eyes upon me made it incomplete.
I wondered, then, if you knew how I felt about you. Did you know how much I loved you; how much I cherished every single stolen moment as any miser would cherish gold?
Did I yearn for you? Always. Did I need you? Certainly. There was not a moment in my day where you did not cross my mind; not one day went by without my speaking your name and not an hour where the thought of you didn’t make me eternally grateful that I had you.
A touch of your hand made everything okay.
I thought of the day I told you I loved you. The silent house, the fear, the knowledge I would regret it forever if I didn’t tell you right then.
I remembered the night we got lost in the rain, and the dancing, and the eventual, endless lovemaking which warmed us both that night. Oh how much I wanted you then, and how much I want you now. All I wanted then was to be yours; same as I want now, and the same thing I’ll want for the rest of my life.
I hoped you knew that.
And I hoped it wasn’t too late to tell you.
It had been an age since I’d been home. It still didn’t hit me that summer was over and that I wasn’t coming back in just a few short weeks. There were moments, I realized, that I forgot New York isn’t home. Home is where the heart is, they say, but that isn’t altogether true. It helps to have your school and the ability to legally find a job. So why did I feel as if at this moment I was leaving the only home I’d ever known.