My childhood home was built in 1886 with bricks from the ruins of the Chicago Fire.
Living surrounded by death bricks was definitely comforting to me. I feel most secure sleeping in houses that have been through something. I can’t stand to be somewhere flimsy and unreliable.
It’s like, no matter how great the plans or the design team’s ideas are, I don’t trust a house that was thrown together in a weekend, painted shiny white, given some plants and supposed to last forever.
Still, everyone is gutting their buildings and turning them into grayscale spaceships and soulless farmhouses. Pretty 1920s schools close and get rebuilt to look like prisons. Storied college dorms turn into 5-star hotels with no graffiti or missing exit signs.
I like to be able to look through photo albums and memory boxes and forgotten closets and look at the same people and places growing over decades.
I like to walk through patchwork schools and see ghosts in letter sweaters and poodle skirts and the first person that came to school in a tank top and Soffe shorts who probably looked hot and that’s why we can’t have nice things.
It overwhelms and comforts me to know that I’m standing somewhere that’s seen so much.
But everyone says,
“Well, the electric bill was too high.”
“Well, the ceiling was leaking.”
“There were a lot of complaints.”
“Well, it was going to take too much work/be too expensive to fix. We just decided to build a new one.”
They’re all just quitters and lazy and don’t want to put in work to save what’s been so beautiful and protected them for so long.
I don’t care how high my electric bill is.
The windows are big.
The ceilings are high.
The hardwood floors are original.
My house is a little haunted, but I’m friends with the ghosts.
I can peek in the rooms and see myself years ago.
I’ve smiled at her and asked her how long she plans to stay here.
When she told me she plans to stay forever, I got to work making sure the walls never collapse and the paint stays fresh.
Things that are old were built to last.
I feel like it’s my job to make sure they do.
Leaving my schedule open all summer is like having a guest room in your house when you’ve never had a single guest
It’s just in case a friend needs me or wants to spent time with me
I’m too scared to ask to visit anyone when it might be inconvenient for them so
I put extra nice sheets on the bed
I bought new candles
There’s a mini fridge with my friends’ favorite drinks and a cabinet with their favorite snacks
But they go bad after a while and it’s costing a lot to keep the supply stocked
I keep a gluten free cookbook in my kitchen so I can make dinner for anyone who asks
Now I just feel stupid and don’t have any money
I didn’t get a summer job in case they invited me on a trip or someone needed taken to the doctor
I send them cards and text them to remind them I’m still here
I dust the dresser and keep the widows clean & count the days until their birthdays
I’m thinking about just selling this house and getting an apartment somewhere else
But what if my friends need me?
I finally forget the color of your eyes
I have not forgotten about how loud my heart was beating when you were tracing my ribs
I have not forgotten your laugh
The first six months of last year were a fever dream and you were the shapeshifting monster that stood in the corner of my bedroom telling me that I made it all up
I laid there sweating, panicked, regretting everything I told you and every time I showed myself to you but I still woke up gasping for everything you’d ever breathed into me
How can I explain to the next girl that sleeps in this bed that there’s a ghost where she’s laying?
What if her eyes are a different color?
It doesn’t matter
I don’t remember the color of your eyes anymore anyway.
If I combined every girl I’ve ever loved into one holy entity
I'd eat quesadillas with her in bookstores on Sunday mornings drunk off $7 pink moscato
I'd wink at her from across the room during sorority recruitment and we'd sneak away in her red mustang
After class, I’d pass notes to her from 8,000 miles away
In airports, she’d try to bargain with the gate agents while holding my hand and her first class ticket
I’d kiss her through her car window, but be too afraid to hold her hand while I’m driving
We’d sneak around, be everyone’s favourite couple, and I'd think maybe **** won't hit the fan this time
Distance would mean nothing because we were never together
Distance would be crushing because we were never apart
Her hair would get tangled in pink dye and I’d find it in my shower
She’d kiss my forehead but be too short to reach
We wouldn’t have any boundaries, but somehow, we’d cross them
We’d get too carried away and go to Vegas to get married and come back to high school with our mothers’ opal rings
We’d be 19 in Lexington at a grocery store buying pineapple juice to mix with alcohol that she’d be old enough to legally buy on her own
Her dad would buy us wine to drink in a kitchen without a table but with immaculately clean floors
We’d talk about girls that broke our hearts and girls we wish we could have while naked in her dorm room
We’d talk about how we’re the only ones for each other
Six months in and in love
3 years in and deciding we took it too far
One month since we separated and dizzy on the bathroom floor
There is a fine *** line between self care and selfishness and you're waltzing on it like you waltzed with me but we’ve forgotten about that, haven’t we
How are you?
I thought about you today
About your shoulder and how I leaned on it in embarrassment when I swerved the car onto the wrong street and you stopped breathing for a moment because it was the first time I touched you
Are you doing okay?
I’m thinking about how you told me I have a refreshing personality and how that’s still my favorite compliment
I’m thinking about your laugh and how you cracked up when we talked about My Strange Addiction and the woman that ate couch cushions
You have my favorite sense of humor and I miss it
I’m thinking about how I caught you watching me curl my hair from bed and how you looked like an angel surrounded by the light coming from my windows through my white sheets
Are you eating enough?
I’m thinking about when a waitress walked over and heard us talking about how math made us want to jump off a bridge
We laughed because it probably freaked her out, and I tried to hide under the table
I’m thinking about how long I waited to kiss you
I’m thinking about when I asked to kiss you
I’m thinking about how the next thing I said was "I’m a little shaky"
I’m thinking about how you were too
I’m thinking about how much I kissed you, and how it could never be enough
I remember when you told me that no one had ever kissed you in public
I had plans to
We had plans to
I could be thinking about twirling you through an art museum and kissing you next to paintings of women who aren’t you, but who should be
I wish I could think about climbing the stairs to the bell tower and kissing when the bells started singing
Has anyone done that for you yet?
God, I hope so
How are you?
Give me something
I want to think about someone else
Tomorrow, I will wake up early
I will walk outside and feel the same sun that lit your eyes through my bedroom windows, and I might be sad
I will get in my car and listen to your playlist, and I might think of you
Tomorrow, I am taking myself to the art museum
I will walk, thoughtfully, through the galleries through which we dreamed of twirling, and I might cry at the art to which you compared me
But I will smile to myself as I imagine the life we almost had, and the lives we will have
Tomorrow, the first song we listened to together will be the song I hum in the shower, and it might make my heart hurt
But it might not
You’re a good memory, and if that is all I can have then
Tomorrow, I will happily live with that