Chemistry is just a word we use to describe what occurs when subtle changes in our minds make energy from common lives, I thought. My heart punched my rib cage for what seemed like the three-hundred and sixty-fifth time in an endless minute. We were walking hand in hand and we were all strung nerves and muscle tension.
In the gardens you said to me 'We should sit down', and I said 'Yeah, that would be nice', and so we sat in the ornate benches just staring wide eyed out at the world, as if we were seeing properly for the very first time. Vibrant flowers framed the water cascading from the fountain.
'Sometimes when I come here I like to look at this fountain and think about what it means. Right now I am thinking that it is a stand in for how you make me feel', you said.
We were big on metaphors around this time, like cryptologists making sense from some lost meaning.
'I mean, this fountain is beautiful and alive, and this is how you make me feel'.
'That is a wonderful thing to say. And I feel the same way. About you, I mean. Not about myself. That would be weird. I'm sorry.'
'It's okay. I knew what you mean'.
We were young and the awkward, self conscious anxieties that go along with that still hung over our heads. We were vaguely terrified of absolutely everything except each other, and you had a theory that this was the true definition of love in the modern world. Maybe 'I am not terrified of you' would be printed on Valentines cards in years to come.
We sat hand in hand, watching the water. It was probably cascading, although maybe it was more like gushing, or surging. We couldn't settle on the appropriate verb, so left it at that. We made promises to remember this forever, living in the endless moment, making great heaping piles of seconds in our minds, a pile of sixty to be called a minute and a far bigger pile to be called a memory. The sun was setting directly in front of us, and you asked me to tell you about my ex-girlfriend.
I am five years old and struggling for vision over the dashboard as we drive to the shops, learning the meanings of words like weekends and sunlight and the Bangles are playing on the radio. Suddenly, I am seventeen years old and struggling to see through blurred vision, learning the meaning of things like serendipity and the blues, as we drive home in this taxi, knowing that this is the last and final time this is going to happen, because things have changed. I am eight years old and throwing bark instead of kissing her, and learning the meaning of regret.
This is what I did not say about my ex-girlfriend.
These were my own 3am Tramadol meditations in F# A# (infinity) about her. These were the things I was not yet ready to tell you. I could have laid myself open to you, bearing all. I could have explained all of this, but instead I said 'She got fat. She has a kid, now. You're about 10,000 times better than her, in every possible, conceivable way', and this was, I think, what you wanted to hear anyway.
Sometimes 'romance' and the truth / memories / 3am meditations shouldn't cross paths, I thought. It is usually best this way.
With your arms around me and your eyes on mine, we felt eternal. We felt like were were running head first down steep hills, building so much momentum and energy that we were going to explode.
'Lets go'. You.
'But where to?'. Me.
'I dunno. We can take a walk'. You.
'I'd like that', and we took a walk. You were decisive, and I needed this. It was almost time for the park rangers to lock the sharp-topped gates – we could have been trapped.
Walking past the Art Gallery you told me how you don't like the sculptures above at night. How they seem so grand and looming and important, lurking in the sky. How they remind you of great extinct birds, ready to swoop. How you don't like to feel like the insignificant prey of giant imaginary animals. How you never got these feelings when we were together though. I told you that you were never insignificant, and that besides, I would protect you. You would protect me. Together we would be some sort of unstoppable super-hero duo, overflowing with the relentless energy of youth, running and believing and gasping for air, never stopping, in constant combat with the entire world. Taking on all six billion if we needed to. We both agreed that this, probably, was kind of over the top. Holding hands, we stopped to admire the Gatsby posters pasted to the theatre bollard.
'When I am with you', I said, 'I feel like this town is the ragged edge of the universe. Like we could be rolling champagne bottles down any avenue, under the light of a wanton moon. I feel like I want to give in to the world in all its cliched and romantic glory'. This was back when we were big on metaphors. Back when we were tragic and embarrassing, caught up in waves and tides of feeling, abandoning the Puritan restraint of previous years and lifetimes, as if this time around we'd been born feet first and never bothered trying to put ourselves right, or find out how it was supposed to go.
We walked towards the Square, bright lights surrounding us down Worcester Street. The quantity of streetlights meant we each had four shadows, in varying shades of darkness, and we weren't afraid of a single one of them. We stopped on the Bridge in view of the sell-suited drunks down the Strip, their heads all ethanol and property figures. The caged doors of the Our City gallery reminded me of a prison, and I had to fight the urge to offer you a private performance of Free Bird, grateful you didn't even hear me humming. Insecurities blooming, as we leaned against the same prison gate, pressing lips. Hearts racing, skipping to the same rhythms, without the need for the intoxication of the bars, or the choking commerce of the glass fronted buildings. Feeling drunk off of each other. Feeling like right then and there we needed absolutely nothing but each other, still absolutely terrified of the world, but no longer scared of ourselves. Discovering that maybe this is what love is, and maybe, just maybe, this is the most important thing that will happen to us, breaking free and offering ourselves up to the world, proudly offering our necks to the world, screaming 'come and get us, come and get us, you fuckers' because we are ready, we are ready and we are never looking back.
in this story i ripped off- fucked up, cold world, the great gatsby, every cliche 'love story' ever.