[it’s where you could find me when you couldn’t find me anywhere else]

First and Last

You held my hand as you were leaving. You told me you had to find yourself. To know who you really are and what you want to be. I stood there on our doorstep and said nothing. I was afraid that if I opened my mouth, I would be begging you to stay. I didn’t want to be that selfish. I wanted you to do whatever you wanted. Even if it meant farewell.

You told me you would come back for me. You promised. I just nodded to tell you I understood, even if I couldn’t. When you ran out of things to say, you freed my hand. You turned to leave. I closed my eyes and cried silently. I didn’t see if you looked back. I didn’t see your last expression. I wasn’t brave enough to take one final glance. All I heard were your footsteps, getting more inaudible with distance. Until they were gone.

I never thought that one day we would get separated. We grew up together, went to the same school, attended the same church. My first memory was your face laughing at me when I fell down a swing. We were next door neighbors and you practically lived in our home because your parents were always away for some business conference. You were the first person I would see every morning because you liked drawing on my face while I was asleep. You were always there – constant and unfailing.

We were five years old and you punched some boy for telling me I was ugly. When we were eight, I was the one who punched our classmate because he said you were gay. You had always been told you were gay, just because you have a girl’s name – Arian. I would always tell you not to get affected because I, on the other hand, was named after a boy – Alexis. You’d cheer up after that.

We were twelve and I got a flu. You didn’t go to school the whole time I was sick. You were there in my room, bringing me milk or hot chocolate, a sandwich, or anything I requested. One time, you showed up with santan flowers that you picked on our garden. I got better after that.

We were fifteen and we just graduated from high school. Your graduation gift was a scooter. Mine was a digital camera. All summer, we strolled through town – having picnics, fishing on the lake, visiting our friends. I captured every moment with my camera. It was the best summer of my life.

We were eighteen and one day, a car stopped in front of your house. That night, you didn’t go to see me. The next day, I went to your house and saw that your room was closed. It was never closed before. It was always open because I told you I hate knocking and waiting for you to come out. But that time, I knocked and waited. When you didn’t answer, I slumped by your room. For three hours. When you finally opened the door, I saw that you were puffy-eyed. You were crying. You didn’t sleep either. I asked you where your parents were. You answered, “Which pair?”

You told me you were adopted. The one who came the previous day was an estate attorney. Your biological parents died in a car crash and you were left with a fortune. I couldn’t really see what the big deal about it was but you said it would change everything. For eighteen years, you had been kept in the dark. Your identity was a lie. The life you had been living was a lie. I tried to reason out with you but you already made up your mind. That was a week before you left.

I waited for you. Because you promised. You told me you would come back for me. But you never did.

I waited because I wanted answers. I wanted to ask you if you really thought everything was a lie. What about us? Were we just some kind of made-up characters? What about our friendship? Did we just act it out? Did you?

We are twenty-one now, and I haven’t heard from you. You didn’t give me any contact information when you left. I wonder if you already found what you were looking for. Or did you lose yourself even more? What if your life was supposed to be spent in this neighborhood, with me? What if you never really had to search for your true identity because you never really lost it? What if it was me who could show you who you really are?

That you are Arian and I am Alexis. And I am in love with you. It is impossible not to fall in love with you. Aren’t you aware that you are in love with me, too? Or are you just afraid to admit it? Do you think being in love with your best friend is not that significant compared to your grand scheme of things? Would you rather not waste your precious time with a simple “I love you” before you went away?

But, I wouldn’t know the answers because you’re not coming back. That much I’m certain of. Funny, the first time you held my hand was when you said goodbye.

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