In the end, it all came down to a bus stop.
Such a rudely anticlimactic ending, really, to all the fitful nights I spent in your honor; wishing for your scent, your grasp, any moment of you I could pilfer away for myself. God, you were so surreal to me. I wonder if I really loved you or my simply my invention of you.
A bus stop, in silence – the denouement of a painfully unrequited first love, gentle embraces, that first ephemeral kiss. I remember I had left my car running and had to buy gas to get home that night, but I didn’t mind – what a small price to pay for my first blissful taste of heaven.
But on that familiar old green bench, the magic of those endless summer nights was stripped bare before us, in a wordless, public communion. How strikingly surreal and yet absurdly routine that moment was, all at once – the summation of everything my heart once had to give split open amidst the daily bustle of a university bus stop. A chance meeting with a former flame, a caricature of my childhood condensed to the silence of an awkward encounter. I was so accosted by the old speeches I’d once penned in your absence – impassioned, novel-length pleas for love, acknowledgment, anything. Oh, how I could have detailed every inexplicable pang of loneliness and flutter of ecstasy you incited in me, awakening something I didn’t know existed. But I didn’t speak. Now I think of how I loved you.
There you sat, immobile as a statue, no inclination towards reminiscent conversation. I suppose it was better that way: no rudely forced ‘how-are-you-doings’ or halfhearted ‘just-fine-thank-yous’. No masked ‘is-there-anyone-else’ underneath a complacent smile; no terrible wondering ‘do-you-love-her-more-than-me’. I’ve taken to drinking red wine while I contemplate the mystery of you; sweet high notes eclipsing the bitter aftertaste. That’s us, isn’t it?
But let’s be honest, there never was an ‘us’ – not for longer than a fleeting instant or two; really, no more than a lusty figment of my yearning mind. The moment we exchanged those three forbidden words, I had never felt so wholly alive, caught in a tableau of sweet summer air and intoxicating adulation. Then, the inevitable falling out – separation and abandonment, your empty promises of ‘someday’. Love makes a person crazy. Even in that faraway instant, at the old campus bus stop, I wondered if it could be ‘the moment’: one green-eyed look instantly forgiving years of inexhaustible pain. God, we’re such romantics! But you boarded the bus with the heartbreaking air of inevitability, chose a seat far away from mine. You bellowed a silent and final rejection as you walked away indifferently, as if I were any other faceless student. What a simple action condemning my childish resistance to closure.
Love is never a mistake, I carved into the faded green wood, before turning away from the familiar old bus stop.