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8:53

Letters to the Three Girls I’ve Loved

1.

You were such a joyous, innocent energy to be around. Fast talking and keen on genuinely flattering everyone. You knew how to make a person feel special. You knew how to give undivided attention. You instinctually felt whatever other people felt, an extreme form of empathy that just poured and poured. Your makeup was always so perfect it was like staring at a symmetrical painting, trying to find a flaw, but there were none.

We bought yards of fabric and created a canopy complete with string lights and candles above your bed, before the days of glorified Pinterest projects. We even cut out images of things that inspired us and taped a collaborative mood board to the wall. We smoked so much weed and melted into piles of mismatched Ikea pillows. That was our bonding place. Our sacred space where we laughed and cried and explored each other. And watched marathons of Adventure Time.

You brought me idealism, excitement, and lofty infatuation. I hardly remember the classes I took or the job I had at the time. I only remember the times I spent with you. We were obsessed with looking to astrology and spirituality to better understand each other, probably because we hardly knew enough about ourselves, but it was fun. I was naively enamored by dating another young creative, someone who “understood me”, whatever that meant at the time. I didn’t even understand myself. Regardless, I always had fun with you. Whether it was zipping around Long Beach in your Mini Cooper, completely disregarding traffic laws, or having your parents’ house to ourselves and sharing intimacy in the color-changing jacuzzi. Yes, I still remember that jacuzzi. Your Mini always smelled of assorted flavors of Zig Zags and empty weed containers were scattered throughout every corner of the car. And now any time I step foot into a car that smells like weed, I think of the eight blunts we smoked on the drive up to San Francisco that one time.

When you broke up with me, it was my first time ever being dumped. I took it hard. I spiraled into such a deep depression that I became a small 107 pounds. I completely changed my look. I traded ripped black skinny jeans and combat boots for snapbacks and hoodies. I blacked out the memories of you with partying. Blew money on trips to San Francisco, Vegas, and Arizona to hang out with girls, though I never slept with any of them. It felt like The Weeknd was narrating my life. Finally after months of self destruction and depression, my lung collapsed, and I was in ICU for 14 days.

In retrospect, you were a fun, self destructive period of my life, like there was some romanticism in being young and partying until you forgot about hating yourself. But it had a far too serious ending for me. I’m slightly embarrassed by it. You were an adventure, a whirlwind that tore through me, just like young and naive love should be.

2.

You were 19. I was 21. You were waiting for me to come home from hanging out with friends. You saw my name come up on your phone, but this was not a call you ever expected. It was a paramedic. I was in a motorcycle accident, hit by a drunk driver. I was comatose and in pretty bad shape.

This was not what you were expecting. In the weeks-long infancy of a new relationship, and here I was, your new young lover unrecognizable and incoherent in a hospital bed. Completely shattered jaw, missing teeth, eyes black and swollen shut. Scrapes and gashes everywhere.

You could have left, but you didn’t.

You actually unflinchingly stayed. If you weren’t in school, you were with me. You slept in the hospital bed with me. You cleaned my wounds and yelled at the nurses when they were hurting me and I couldn’t communicate to them. You stayed until the soreness went away. Until my jaw healed and I could chew again. Until I got all my teeth back. You stayed through my semi-violent outbursts, fits of crying, and refusing to leave the house. Until I got through the trauma and hard reality that my face was going to be scarred forever. And then you stayed even after that.

You were always patient during my accident, but also in how you faced the world. You had a gentle kindness. You knew true compassion. You had an adorable sing-song voice that was infectious and porcelain olive skin always adorned with strands of glimmering metals, quartz and turquoise. You could wear black ankle-length dresses better than anyone I know. You were relaxing and inviting and poised with quiet strength. Yet I knew the anxiety and constant worry that brimmed inside you.

You taught me what it was like to have the true combination of a lover and a best friend. And now I will never want anything but that. We grew alongside each other, like small plants that bud together, wilt together, but bloom together again. And all the while, our roots intertwining below the surface. And so through many seasons, we grew.

Spring: Perusing through vintage shops, house parties in Silverlake, May finals, and spending weekends in your breezy all white studio. Picking you up and spinning you around the day before I left for Europe, wanting to confess to you then that I liked you, but holding it back for another three months.

Summer: Finally confessing all of my feelings one hungover afternoon after I had gotten back from Europe, heart racing, words spilling. Drinking on your roof for your birthday. Iced coffees and weekends spent at Japan LA. Your magic udon (which I still cannot replicate) and Miyazaki movies. Hunting secret food pop ups and 110 degree drives out to your parents’ house.

Fall: Pumpkin painting and cleansing candles. Watching you paint your lips black cherry red for the Little Death parties. That one Halloween party Carlos and I threw that ended pretty disastrously. Or did it? Late night movies in my apartment with the green walls. Asking me to cook my mom’s recipes for you.

Winter: Stressing over finals. Late night shifts at my retail job. Buying my new Volkswagen and immediately driving it up north. Dinner at Perch and so many rose petals all over the apartment I was more concerned as to how we were going to pick them all up. That massive fight we got into at Emily’s house that resulted in a high speed car chase down 6th street. I still am in awe at how either of us didn’t get pulled over.

I saw you for the first time in two years a few weeks ago. It was the happiest I’ve been in a really long time. I could feel a centered calmness glowing out of you. You seem to have found your path, at least for now and the near future. You still have that infectious sing-song voice and gentle touch. You still cry a lot. The way you look to the side when you think is the same. Your giggle hasn’t changed. How you dress now is eons more mature than your Unif tanks from five years ago. Elegant color coordinated silhouettes and accessories you’ve designed yourself. You’ve changed in the right ways. You’ve stayed the same in the right ways.

That night brought me much needed peace that I was previously searching for in the wrong places.

Thank you. Thank you.

3.

I have a two-minute voicemail from you, left at 5:30 AM on September 25th, 2016. Your last words in it are, “I love you. Please come back.”

May 25th, 2017, 9:53 PM.

I love you. Please come back.

— Ezra.