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This must be the place: I want to hold you in the Bible black pre-dawn, what was I thinking when we said hello?

This must be the place: I want to hold you in the Bible black pre-dawn, what was I thinking when we said hello?

It’s Sunday, Feb. 13. The Super Bowl will be underway in about six hours. I’m sitting at a table in the depths of Orchard Coffee in downtown Waynesville. Large cup of coffee (with a shot of espresso) nearby. A breakfast sandwich and yogurt soon to be arriving. 

And yet, I can’t help but think about a poem I wrote on this day in 2016. Like most of the endless spur-of-the-moment-inspiration dribble I write that isn’t printed in this publication, I usually forget what I wrote, said, felt or came to realize, at least until I open up the files and something catches my eye. 

I hadn’t thought about this poem since the day I wrote it. I wasn’t even looking for it. But, an “On This Day” memory notification popped up on my Facebook account this morning. I scrolled through where I was, what I was doing, and who I was with on this exact day, which goes back to when I first logged into the social media platform (2004, sheesh). 

It’s a rather long poem, some 876 words. It’s a stroll down memory lane, through interactions and reactions in the midst of past lovers — love lost, love found, and that familiar giant void of silence between dots of companionship and relationships. 

In chronological order, each femme fatale has a section, with each transition seamless, seeing as it’s an ongoing story of one’s journey — my own. You get the idea. It was surreal and cathartic to wander back down that bumpy road of memories, both good and bad, the path to the here and now. 

And yet, I’m still standing. As I hope they are, too. These individuals intersecting, either for a moment or for a lifetime. The trajectories of time and place, and how nothing or everything could happen by what door you choose to walk through. No ill will or anything of that nature in hindsight. Just pure awe and of endless curiosity, of deep reflection of the past and where we all ended up. 

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The first girl was “A.” Middle school. Canadian border. She passed a note to me during social studies asking me to the dance that Friday. And, if so, would I save her a dance? Yes, and yes. Pull each other close during the final song of the evening, Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” 

It was pretty intense for a young kid like myself. Butterflies and nervous small talk. But, for some reason, she liked me. Nothing really came of it though, seeing summer break was around the corner, neither one of us could drive, and we’d all be entering high school that fall, all scattering into our respective groups and labels. 

Then, there was “L.” My high school sweetheart. Lived an hour away from each other. We came into each other’s field of vision because we were both runners and, well, ran around in the same athletic social circles. We dated for junior and senior year, and the first semester of freshman year (away at different colleges) before breaking up right around the holidays. 

I learned my first lessons about what actual love “is” from “L,” and for that I’ll always be grateful. We met up for lunch several years after we ended things. She was still the same magnetic person I fell in love with. That was the last time I saw her, though we’re friends on Facebook, so I’m happy to see that she’s happily married with a handful of jovial children.

Skip up to second semester sophomore year of college. “S” literally walked into my life when she wandered into my dorm room during a keg party we were having. She liked the band posters on the wall over my bed, but more so the ski map of Crested Butte, which is what sparked our initial conversation, this mutual love of slicing through powder and being out in the elements. 

We dated for the rest of that semester and that summer. It was pretty magical, to say the least, especially that chunk of the summer spent with her at her dad’s cabin up in the desolate Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania — chasing waterfalls, learning how our souls tick, and going to concerts. 

But, right as I was ready to board a flight to Ireland for semester abroad that fall, she messaged me and said she “couldn’t do this anymore” due to me leaving for four months of unknowns an ocean apart. I spent the next several hours of that flight drinking overpriced beer and drowning my sorrows in sad music in my headphones (Coldplay, John Mayer, etc.), only to dry my tears and recalibrate myself once we landed at Shannon Airport. 

And then there was “M.” The one that got away, in essence. An old friend from high school, rendezvousing for drinks later down the road. I had been out of college a couple of years, and just returned to the North Country after my first journalism gig in Idaho, onward to wandering the country as a freelance writer. 

It was a whirlwind romance. I felt that this would be my lot in life, her and I conquering the game of life together. Everything seems to fit, and I was genuinely happy. There were long-term plans talked about and rehashed to perfection. But, just when I was contemplating when and where to propose, she got to me before I could get to her. 

She was graduating college soon and wanted to see the world for herself, and on her own. That breakup feels like a lifetime ago, but sometimes feels like yesterday when you let your mind wander. I came across a photo of her this weekend, happily married and expecting her first child. All the love to you and yours, “M.” 

And here I sit on Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022. I’m 37 years old and I didn’t even realize Valentine’s Day was tomorrow until a dear friend mentioned their plans with their significant other. 

But, that’s OK that I forgot. It’s just another day, just like every day before and after tomorrow is another chance, happenstance or circumstance of that certain “someone” walking through the same door that you decided to turn to the knob and enter.

Life is beautiful, grasp for it, y’all. 

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