The first thing you learn is that you can’t expect things. They won’t text you goodnight. They won’t tell you about their day. Your phone won’t ring no matter how many times you check it. In a way, their memories won’t last either.
In two years, they won’t remember that day in the park or how the sun glimmered underneath that waterfall or all the silly faces you made in one of the many photobooths. Days like December 18 or October 16 will go unnoticed, their significance even more so. You’ll understand that in order for one to remember, another must forget.
You learn to hate the cliché “finder’s keepers, loser’s weepers.” Your song will play on the radio. Little notes will clutter in your closet. A whole life will haunt you in each and every step because you made sure that in each and every step, they were your life. You used to know everything. You had a personal invite into their troubles and success. Now you are strangers and nothing more. You learn that’s the way it goes, and you learn that no matter what you do, what you say, or what you feel, some things are final – goodbye being one of them.
You learn that not everything needs an explanation. Sometimes words just weigh down the gravity of the scenario. It’s not that some things are indescribable. Certainly they can be defined, measured, and quantified. Rather, you don’t want to characterize how you feel or what it meant to you. All the good words have been stolen, and even those offer little condolence. Besides, those words are just another way to describe the world. Before you simply described it with their name.
You learn that some days drown into the night. By the time the sun swings itself into a cheery blossom, you forget why you were out in the first place. You visit one bar. Another. You learn that sometimes a name is all that is needed to start a relationship. So the names pile on and on and you tell yourself that it takes someone to get over someone else. All you need is another pair of lips. Or another body in between the little naked spaces of your bare body. Then one day, as the dawn peeks through the blinds and finds you in a bed that is not your own, staring at the stenciled symbols in the ceiling and wondering if you should get up now or later, you learn that you loved what you lost and hate what you found.
You learn that you can’t take this burden by yourself. You’ll have to tell someone. Anyone. The unimposing relationship you were in, the comfort you found, the happiness you discovered. All of it. The beginning. The end. Every sweet middle bit. Because you’ll learn that only until you talk about them and what happened – the way they played with your hair, the way they caught you in the most unflattering pictures, the way they talked to complete strangers like long-lost friends – you’ll never be able to think about anything else.
You learn that the saying is true: love and death are the only things that have the power to change everything. In a way, it makes you laugh: your love has died. So you are left only with the memories, the soft kisses, and the days cradled in each other’s arms. You are left with everything you had, everything you felt, and everything that can be no more. In the end, you are left with everything that has to change.
Most of all, you learn to forget. Forget those letters you wrote. Forget that you said you missed them, and that you meant to say is that you loved them. Forget that you were once afraid to use the word love. Forget how they liked when you kissed the back of their ear. Forget their laugh. Forget how their tears matched the rain. Forget that you wrapped your arms around them, buried your head in their hair, and that you held your breath because you just wanted to stay there forever. Forget that you are still waiting for forever to start.
And always – no matter the day, the weather or the lingering thoughts of doubt – remember to forget.