You're like a great book I only get to read one page at a time.
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Around two years ago, I was living in Austin with one last semester of school ahead of me. I had two part-time marketing jobs, both of which allowed me to work from home and to focus on the things I really enjoy: taking and editing photos, managing social media accounts, blogging about real weddings and local hot spots and other things of that nature.
The summer of '13 was a quiet one. I lived alone in a one-bedroom apartment off of Guadalupe, only five minutes from downtown. Almost all of my friends were either away on holiday or completing their own internships elsewhere before the start of our highly anticipated senior year. And for the first time since I'd moved to the city in 2010, Austin seemed deserted. Campus, a ghost town.
My days felt long and empty compared to the strictly scheduled madness of the previous semester, and I was thankful for the break. From mid-morning to late afternoon, I'd hop from one small café to another in search of the most comfortable creative space, delighted by each change of scenery. My evenings were reserved specifically for Felicity marathons, with the occasional tête-à-tête at Trudy's (when their famous Mexican Martinis beckoned) or a night out on Rainey Street sometimes thrown in the mix. Thinking back, I remember finding the utter seclusion surprisingly blissful. It was all I needed, the refreshing loneliness of an agenda-less summer.
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I walked to Kerbey Lane at 9:00 in the morning, asked for a booth by the window, and ordered a chocolate coffee (heavy on the coffee) to get my creative juices flowing. Pandora and the Beats headphones I got for Christmas helped drown out the little bit of noise one could expect on campus in mid-July. Summer Ames started to sing a new favorite, and the unbeatable combination of caffeine and musical inspiration flowed through my veins. Taking my Macbook from my bag, I set it gently on the table and powered it up, eager to check my to-do list for the day.
But not before first scanning my Inbox for something worth reading. Heart beating a little too fast, my eyes fell on a familiar subject line, and then his name in bold. Another lengthy letter, awaiting my response.
Two years can seem like an eternity. But it's merely a minute in which everything can change.
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We nostalgics have an encumbering tendency to idealize past phases of our lives, to look back on "the good ol' days" longingly and wish we could somehow experience them again. Almost always, positive memories replace any negative feelings that might have existed—even if that particular point in time was just as hard, just as mundane, or just as bittersweet as the stage we're currently in. Our brain's way of protecting us, I suppose. Good or bad, we mourn what's no longer ours. And then wonder how many of our precious moments have been taken for granted in the process.
This happens to me a lot, I'll admit, but that July was different. I wasn't looking back. I knew what I had was good, special. Rare. More than happiness, I felt a sense of wholeness. I was content, fully reveling in the simplicity of my daily routine. Eat, create, play, sleep. Rinse, repeat. I was exactly where I wanted to be, and although my life might have appeared boring from the outside, restlessness never once grabbed hold of me.
And so, when the messages started coming, I savored each sentence with cautious abandon. I let myself get lost in the thrill of an unread reply and the subtle mystery of his kind words. It was a slow and steady build. The hints were there, and I hinted back ever so obviously, overjoyed by the notion of seeing him again. Invigorated by the possibility of face-to-face conversations, or any semblance of a future as... friends? Something else? I couldn't be sure. But even greater than my desire to define what we had, I wanted my world to go unchanged for just a few moments more. To linger on that delicate threshold between curiosity and commitment, a lovely little balancing act for two.
The summer before graduation was like a great book I could only read one page at a time. And it pulled me in unexpectedly. Gradually at first, and then all at once.
I didn't know then that my life was about to change for good. That the sense of peace I felt in the days leading up to an inevitable August were preparing me for a kind of chaos that I'd not yet experienced in my twenty-one years. The kind of chaos that turns your life upside down and makes you come undone, piece by piece. That keeps you up at night thinking, I will miss this. Someday, I'll miss this beyond words.
|| photo by Caio Resende ||