When cardboard boxes were everything that piled around the empty apartment I once called home. I was left haunted, staring at a simple shoebox in the back of my closet. A secret I kept hidden for 3 years. A painful reminder of heartbreak.
A lost love.
She didn’t know how to speak English very well, she knew how to write it properly yet her pronunciation wasn’t where she’d want it to be. Even though I spoke Spanish as well, she didn’t want to speak it with me. She wanted to learn. She wanted me to hear her when she was ready to utter the perfect words. She wanted it to be flawless. For me.
In the meantime, while I patiently waited for her perfection, we communicated in notes. Notes left on her desk at work. Notes hidden under pillows. Notes on the windshield of her car.
A written conversation over a bottle of wine one evening.
The blissful comfortable silence over warm coffee, enjoying each other’s company. Stolen glances, slight touches, nose bumps and kisses. Silent laughter and joy. We were happy in silence. Constant conversation wasn’t always communicating. We got to know each other through our actions. No need drag the present with stories of our pasts.
It was falling in love, it was pure. Pristine and untainted.
My cheeks hurt with her. A pain I was happy to have. Happy. A pain caused by happiness. Like the feeling of tightness in your stomach from laughing way too hard. The tightness in your cheeks from smiling way too much.
The feeling of not having the need to fill silences due to being afraid of awkward moments. It was liberating. She was freedom. She taught me to be comfortable in my own company.
She taught me falling in love should be a patient thing.
I love you, was what she said a night our legs intertwined and her sweaty forehead rest upon my bare chest. It was the most genuine three words I had ever heard in my life. Her voice carried like a song coming from a music box I had when I was a little girl. Twirling like a ballerina in the space above us.
And I smiled. And she knew.
I loved her, too.
Not wording our feelings out loud was what made our relationship unique. It made it ours. But, finally voicing ourselves went awry, it broke us. It made it seem like it was an illusion, what we once had. It was once too innocent, too timid. Voicing our thoughts led to disagreements. To finding out maybe we weren’t as perfect for each other as we thought.
Or that maybe. We were too perfect for each other for it to even work.
I thought I was no longer afraid to sit in a lonely park in my own company. Yet, my mind is filled with thoughts of her. Of a time I was genuinely happy and not haunted by the past. Of a time I didn’t feel selfish going to bed with someone else just to fill a void in my chest. A time I didn’t live through cheap wine bottles and stale beer. A time I didn’t smell like a failed attempt of perfume and soap masking cigarette smoke. A time my face wasn’t drained of color. A time I didn’t need the rush of a high to feel alive.
Of a time before she left me.
I no longer knew what was best. Sitting alone in silence, “comfortable” in my own company or sitting in silence with her? A shared comfort.
In my loneliness, I saw a light that shook the darkness to a brim.
The light was embodied in rosy lips, brown eyes and soft hair. And she sat next to me, sharing my silence with her own.
Hope of a new love.
I held the box loosely in my hands. Filled to the top with folded notes home to hundreds if not thousands of written conversation. Of timid love confessions. Of a past.
Maybe things should be kept in the back of your closet, hidden behind hung clothes, and shoes. And just maybe, you just need to clean out your closet. Strip from the old tattered, tainted rags to fit in some new clean garments.
Ready to go? She asks from the doorway, a cardboard box in her small arms. She offers me a warm smile. A smile that sparked the life in me that was once drained. A smile the reminded my lips of that upward twist. A smile that made me love again.
Yes, I uttered, taking the shoebox in my hands and placing it carefully in one of the trash bags.
I was ready to go.
In a pair of new clothes.