[Image Credit: Carol Brémaud]
I almost don’t want to tell this story. After all, who wants to hear about the end of something that almost was? People will tolerate, even support, the telling of a breakup between lovers, and sometimes, if you’re lucky, friends. But lamenting over something that could’ve been and faded away too quickly? What is this, middle school?
And yet, that’s almost where I am, in terms of love, I suppose. I never dated in high school, or at all in my twenty years. My town was too small, and my closet was too dark for that. And besides, infatuation has always been a tricky matter for me. Venus has to be in the right sign and in conjunction with the Moon on exactly the right summer afternoon for me to even consider giving someone a double take.
And yet, that’s exactly what happened that June day. I watched her friends flock to her and felt that she was powerful, but out of shyness, I adverted my gaze from the stranger. But as Scorpio would’ve had it, we were introduced, rather awkwardly (my fault), but soon found ourselves in a rhythmic conversation about oh, who knows what? The only things I remember about that first conversation were the accidental flirtations (again, my fault), and her quick, giggled responses. My face grew hot every time I misplaced a word in a sentence, and every time I made a social misstep.
And yet, she continued to talk to me after our first encounter. Her name was Isabella, but I didn’t know that until I heard her mother say it. Before that afternoon, she was Izzy to me and everyone else. As summer drifted by, we would call each other on the phone, our five-minute check-ins soon evolving into two hour rants about damn near anything. Her voice was like laughter. She could converse about dandelion seeds and where they go when they’re forced from their center. She’d let me fall asleep as I listened to her analyze every pattern of every drum of our favorite songs. I would start to talk about poetry, then stop at the edge of its gravity, and Izzy would plead, “tell me more.” She painted a verbal safe space for me that soon dripped into every aspect of my emotions. “Come visit me in the city,” she so often invited at the end of our phone calls. I promised her that one day, I would.
And yet, I never did. I never had the chance. I know prose about the seasons is outdated and cliché. But October came, and I stayed on the phone with her for thirty minutes during my panic attack set off by the thunderstorm. She understood so well. “Lightning,” I said, closing in on myself, and she instantly became a metronome. “One, two, three—” I think that’s when the thunder exploded above my head. “So, Mother Nature wants to write a waltz tonight?” Izzy chuckled, blanketing me in safety. December introduced a revelation that would take me months to admit: I was infatuated. My thoughts repeated everything she’d said to me that night; she was teaching me freedom, and that was the most beautiful holiday gift. I fell asleep the week before Christmas Eve, terrified because I wanted to send her roses for her favorite holiday. What was this? Could I even wonder? Aren’t we all born knowing when we love, when we lust, and when we simply have nothing else to do? On New Years Eve, I couldn’t ask my friends what wanting to kiss Izzy at midnight meant. The idea of love was so foreign and odd to me; I rejected it.
And yet, February brought its truth. My racing heart and soaring elation was undeniable. Every message made me shiver with anticipation. Every call made my face go hot, and my entire body would get so dizzy, I couldn’t pace on the phone like usual. Her inflections, the words she chose, her quick and meaningless apologies made me throw my head back and smile. I snickered and called her Bella one grey noon. Over the phone, her voice was fuzzy, but I could still hear its rumble, “do that again.” The night she called me “princess” told me everything I needed to know. The depth of this galaxy was all too much. Oh god, did the realization frighten me.
And yet, I was excited. It was March. The beginning of spring. Time to step into something new. One morning, I realized I had a chance to finally go into the city. “I can’t wait for you to show me all the best places to go,” my head spun. Bella refused to dampen her excitement, “and yet, they’ll all be the best places, because I’ll be with you.” The weekend came three days later, and we were finally together. She hugged me and her touch felt like patience. Her arm lingered around my waist. I quivered. Leo is always gracious; Bella held me for so long. We went for a walk. Aside from the closeness we now shared, being with her didn’t look so different than when I first met her in June. I was still nervous and stumbling through my words, but this time, it was from a crush and not unbridled anxiety. We still bounced back and forth effortlessly. But this time, my flirtatious comments were not so accidental. And Bella tossed them right back. Those tiny glances and smirks she offered me as I spoke nearly made me crumble. My eyes followed her hands as they moved when she told a joke; they’d often give away the punch line, but her laugh made everything so much more beautiful. It was easy, being with her. I could’ve stayed in that city between the buildings with her for the rest of my life.
And yet, when I left that night, I was still content. I knew that I could always run back to her voice if I didn’t feel safe, and that she would be there. March was full of us and everything we could’ve been. Soft flirtations, so unknowing. Waking up from dreams of her at four in the morning, my heart pounding. New memories that would turn into spring nostalgia. So many new sensations, and all of them beautiful. Who knew she was feeling the same way? I certainly didn’t, so when that Saturday night came and the Jupiter shone through Libra, my balance was shaken. She was timid when she told me, “I think I like you,” and I whispered back, “I like you, too.”
And yet, I soon realized that we couldn’t be. Oh, everything could’ve been so perfect. We both knew that. But Saturn made the genesis of impossibility rest in our lives. He made these worlds so unforgiving. He made memories of hatred ring through my head. He made this hesitation. When two people are in love, shouldn’t they orbit each other? Didn’t the stars give us that right? Or do they not care to align when they need to? Virgo taught me years ago how to accept the things that couldn’t be, and that I couldn’t always have my way. I was supposed to be made of stardust and serenity.
And yet, the nagging belief that we could’ve been so good pestered me every minute. It became my new religion. I started praying for something, anything to let us fly together. I reread my palm; surely, the fortuneteller I visited at the fair was wrong. I would have a life of love, and soon. I drank tea, as vile as it was, and interpreted the leaves in my mug to mean that, despite all other contradictions, the universe was on my side. I bought my own crystal ball, peered inside, and saw her face, our fate. I burned incense and oils of love and good fortune. I fasted, sustained by only the desperation in my chest and the determination that yes, we could be together.
And yet, everything had to end so soon. Weeks later, we saw each other again, and hugged too many times, and were asked if we were together. We both replied “no” in dreamy unison. In that word, I felt myself slipping away. The hunger pangs in my stomach returned. That word, like February, brought its truth. Oh god, did that realization leave me lonely.
Claire Hansen is a poet, semicolon addict, and psychology student. She has a passion for language and self-expression. She tweets @words_by_claire.