Driving through a thunderstorm down the only roads I’d trust myself on during a thunderstorm; roads that taught me how to drive in the first place, a flash of a memory as bright as the lightning outside my car suddenly pushed me back through time.
I might as well have been behind the wheel of a DeLorean.
It was random, the way it smacked into my brain out of nowhere. A familiar feeling of shame and sadness rippled through my skin as my mind, without a second of warning, jumped to the moment I realized the first boy I had ever loved (it should probably be LOVED, since that’s how full my heart was on him), had met someone new only weeks after we had broken up and neglected to tell me about it. I found out through one of those old school AOL instant messages from a mutual friend who realized her mistake too late, her backpedaling no match for my desperate questions.
That moment, that oh-my-god-no moment, that elevator slamming through my insides and knees going weak from pain moment, reverberated through my entire body almost eight years later. Time had barely weakened the sensation.
You can move forward from something like that, you can barely think of the person (except to every once in a while attempt a “catch up” email which never, ever, feels honest), but I’m not sure your body ever lets go of the memory. It’s always housed just underneath you skin; gripped by the steel trap of your emotional memory.
Emotional memory does not like to let go. Especially when pain stabs all the way into our deepest, safest places. It goes so deep inside it becomes part of our physical make up. Intellectually, we’re over it. Hindsight has helped us see it for what it really was. But then one day it flashes across our eyes, as strong as it ever was, and we realize that it’s not really a question of letting it go (because it hasn’t actually left) — it’s about inviting it in.
There’s so much I want to run from when I think about my past, but that’s a ridiculous idea, because it’s already here. Pain, embarrassment, bad choices, the moment I realized my first love was definitively gone, I mean, that. is. here. And it’s going to burble up from time to time, and it’s going to feel damn strange, but that’s just the nature of living.
I don’t understand why I can’t shake certain things. If the events damaged me, or if I damaged myself. But I don’t need to understand. I just need to accept. I need to feel the sensation of a broken heart slide under my skin on a rainy night in August, blink my eyes, swerve to avoid the zillioneth frog I’ve seen in the last 10 minutes, and continue on with breathing.
More from love