It's strange how it all works. I try to picture how beautiful she was. I vaguely recall that when she got out of the bath, all warm, and wet and shiny, she could stop your heart. But I can't see it anymore. Can't see her anymore. Yesterday I was looking at some old photos, wedding pictures and the like, and I saw myself standing next to a stranger. It wasn't that wonderful person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. It was a void, a blank. Everything fades I suppose, drifts away down loose mudslides of time and space. I can't even recall her voice. The words yes, the taunts and insults come back crystal clear. The sound of them though, the inflections and timber, all of that is gone now. The scars are still there, they'll always be there. Not remembering makes it no less painful, it just makes it indistinct. Being hit with a shovel, instead of stabbed with a knife. Am I really useless, ugly, ignorant? Who is this person who thought that of me? I loved that person once, I still do. I just no longer remember who that person is, was.
Someone else has come along now. Someone in which I can see love growing. Not in the house on fire way it has previously. Not some giant fear-desire. But slowly, like a storm building. Is this better, worse, or just different? I have no answers, only gnawing fears. We cannot choose who we love. We cannot say, "this woman is worthy of my love, so I will love her completely". It just happens. One moment they are just someone we know, some girl on the bus, or a friend, or the waitress at a favorite restaurant. The next moment they are glorious, holy. No one stops to ask if they are deserving, if they may in fact be horrible on the inside. Some old pain making them fester and rot in way that will not become apparent until it's to late.
It is simple really. All of the sudden you are in love, and a sound like thunder shakes you down to your toes. It can grow slowly over time, like it is with me, now. Building and getting stronger, but it's not love, not yet. But it might be, soon. Like over inflating a balloon. It gets bigger and bigger, and you are slightly frightened at it's swelling size. You are filled with a strange nervous anticipation "Will it pop soon?" You scrunch up your face, pull back a little. "Wait for it, Wait for it" Then "Wham!" it bursts. You jump a few inches and begin to laugh as your heart beats faster.
This is love, but the balloon is the size of the sun, and when it finally pops the air is filled with a light like fireflies on shards of glass. You find yourself smiling, laughing, thoughts of sunflowers consume you. No longer do you picture her naked and writhing beneath you. Now it is thoughts of watching her as she brushes her hair or eats a salad that drive you to madness. You remember how she swirls the straw around in her drink when she's listening to you. The time she dropped her cigarette while she was driving, and the jokes she made about it brings a smile to your face at the most unusual times.
I wonder, if some day down the road, she too will fade, slip away as another one comes along. Will she suddenly seem a stranger in pictures five, or ten years from now? Her voice and her laugh long ago faded to dust, eyes not as green, flesh not as pale? Now, now it is all sunflowers and thunder. The idea that someday it may all be scars and house-fires keeps me awake at night. Rattles around in my head shattering my good humor. I try to hold on to those eyes, that smile, but part of me knows that everything fades.
Everything disappears down tunnels of thought, becoming dusty rags and hollow faces ravaged by time and distance.
Old lovers become strangers, old friends, enemies. Hundreds, thousands of souls will pass in and out of my life. Some of them leaving a little piece of themselves, good laughs over cold beer, or tragic words thrown back and forth like daggers on some harsh afternoon. Most will just pass through, like ghosts, leaving nothing, taking nothing that I can see. The ones we love leave the most, and take more than we will ever know. It's not the taking that bothers me. It's the leaving that keeps me awake.