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I remember loving you the way I remember what I ate last night, the aftertaste still lingers with familiarity even after the passing of time. You are both bitter and sweet on my tongue with memory.

My affection towards you was a kind of slavery, a lot of work with no compensation or the least bit of acknowledgement towards my devotion. There was never any reciprocation, only cold arms and a crooked chest to occasionally lay on.

I bought you peanut butter cups that later melted from the august heat but you put them in the freezer and ate the hardened clump of chocolate anyway, laughing at my failed attempt to woo you. I gave you gifts. You gave me the smallest bit of affection possible.

You loved your pet rats and I loved you and your dog loved me. He was fat and always eager to see me. You were fat and always disappointed at my arrival.

I guess I really only cared because you didn't. I know it doesn't make much sense to commit to unreturned feelings, but I think the more someone neglects you, the more you crave their attention. It is undoubtedly human to want to try harder for the ultimately unobtainable. 

You looked out for everyone except me. At your parties, you held the hair of drunken strangers, consoling girls crying vodka tears from drinking to an excess. Every time I would sit on top of the laundry machine waiting for both the night to end and for you to come back to me. I waited for us to finally be alone and when we were, we never really were. There was always an excuse to be apart, an errand to run, a friend to drive, somewhere to go without me. I wanted to fall asleep next to you every night. I wanted to lay my head on your chest memorizing the up and down of your breath, as steady as the mutuality I longed for. I would dream about ending my days wrapped up in you, in your bed. You frequently lent your mattress to blacked-out friends but never me.  The only time you let me sleep with you was on your creaking basement couch. The only time you held me was when your arms had no other obligation.

I saw the midnight premiere of a movie I could not care less about because you wanted me to, with you. That night, a man walked into a showing of the same movie in a theatre in Colorado and killed 12 people. I read that one man had shielded his girlfriend for protection, saving her life in the process. He bent his body into a bullet shield to keep her unharmed. I wondered what you would have done in that situation, if you would have sacrificed your safety for my own. I knew the answer to my own questioning without a moment of hesitation; I wasn’t your girlfriend.

I loved you the way my dog chases birds at the beach. He follows them incessantly, running after their shadows as they fly further above the ocean. He always ends up the same; cold, disappointed, and far away from where he's supposed to be. He's a fool who never learns. I am too.

I still taste you on nights where I can't sleep. I relive my mistakes like watching reruns of a game show that never should have aired. You taste like popcorn, and nicotine, and fireball and all of the things I still want to love but don't know how to anymore. I am constantly brushing my teeth in attempts to erase the remnants.

I can't wash you out. You taste like summer and rain, and all of my attempts turned failure. You are the bleeding gums that I get from flossing too hard, too often. There is a strange sweetness that accompanies the rush of red when I bite my lip. It's a taste that never ceases to bring familiarity. I remember you like I remember 3 am vomit creeping up my throat to its exit; I do, but I don't necessarily want to. I hope you taste the memory of me, even after all of this time has passed. 

I gave too much of myself to someone who wasn't even hungry for what I had to offer. I think it was you who subconsciously convinced me to stop giving in relationships. I don't love to my full potential anymore. I don't have enough of me to risk the possibility of wasting any of it. You taught me how to be selfish. I hope I taught you something too.


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Brandy Meetze      1/17/22 7:27 AM

I loved this, raw and honest.