The guitar starts. Live. The crowd begins to stir. The second guitar begins the riff.
The crowd goes wild.
You’re right back in that summer.
You were too young to know what you were doing. Or so you were told.
You remember that summer like it was yesterday. You can smell the Atlantic Ocean. You can feel the sand beneath your feet. You remember the walk from the front door to the shore, you can still see the sunset over the bay behind the cottage.
You remember how the warm air felt off of the ocean. You reach your hand back and place it on your neck, recalling the sting of the sunburn that has since healed.
You can still feel the softness of her hand as you held it. You can still taste the sweetness of her lips.
You remember walking down to the pier with her after dusk one night. The summer sun had fallen out of sight and the little twilight remaining over the ocean was vanishing. You remember how the moonlight looked in her eyes. You remember feeling so purely, simply happy.
She was naturally beautiful – inside and out. She was breath-taking. She was yours. All yours.
But there was a summer coming to an end that night.
You’ve always told yourself that you would have remained together. The truth is there’s no way of knowing. You’ve come to peace with that indisputable reality. But still, a part of you wonders what could have been. Perhaps what should have been.
As the years have gone by, you still admire her. From afar, as you were told. You’ve been fortunate to stay close enough to watch her grow up and blossom into a woman.
You watched her fall in love. You watched her fall down. You watched her get back up, just as you knew she would. She’s strong. You always knew that and loved that about her.
You’ve fallen down over the years, too. You’ve grown up quickly and it’s hard to remember who you were back then.
She’s changed a bit since that summer, as all people do. Life hardens you. The innocence and pureness of your teenage years does not last. It’s not supposed to.
Through it all, you’ve stayed in touch. You’ve seen each other a handful of times; months, sometimes a year in between. A couple times you felt like you were close to reigniting those feelings. But, just like years ago, your brain talks your heart out of it.
You fear the vulnerability of dangling back out there. You fear that even the feelings you feel are somehow insincere – romanticized over all these years, pushing her and your connection up higher on a pedestal.
For any relationship to work, moons must align. You need chemistry. You need passion. You need an admiration for each other. You need the desire to be better people for each other. You need a mutual respect for each other. You need to be dedicated.
More so than all of those is timing. If the timing isn’t right, no amount of chemistry, passion, admiration or dedication will be enough.
That’s life getting in the way. Or it’s life letting you know that it’s not meant to be.
Her eyes haven’t changed, nor has the feeling you get when you see yourself in them. If you guys had only gotten a fair shot, you would have been perfect together. You swim as deep as you can into the most beautiful shade of brown you’ve ever had the privilege to witness. You tell yourself you’d rather drown here then leave again.
But in the morning, you’re leaving. Maybe next time you’ll take her to Cleveland with you.
DAY 11: ON FIRE DAY 10: ON CONNOTATION AND DENOTATION DAY 9: ON THE TIME I BROKE MY RIBS DAY 8: ON THE FOUR UNDERSTANDINGS FOR A HAPPY LIFE DAY 7: DEAR ERIC DAY 6: ON WHY YOU’RE HAVING TROUBLE DATING IN YOUR 20′S, LADIES DAY 5: ON SUNRISES AND SUNSETS DAY 4: ON PARADISE DAY 3: ON SMOKE AND WHISKEY DAY 2: ON HOW CLOSE I WAS TO NOT EVEN GOING TO COLLEGE DAY 1: WHY I’M WRITING EVERY DAY FOR 40 DAYS