Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Somewhere, In Another Story...

I'd like to introduce you to someone.

This is Dave.


Perhaps it's not my place to make this link available to you. But it's on the Internet, so it's fair game, right? Because the world will never know any more of the beauty of Dave's writings & personality than they knew of him at age 20, I want to make sure people still have the opportunity to hear his voice, to know what a beautiful soul he was.

Last month marked 10 years since Dave & I first began dating. We met during a chilly outdoor fire drill, exchanging witty remarks & trying to decipher whether the other was interested. Our first phone call, just a few days later, was hours long. As a result, every autumn feels like "Dave season" - even now. If you've been here for awhile, you know our story. And if you don't, you can find it here. Or here.

It has been nearly seven full years since Dave killed himself, & it's been even longer since he & I were an us. I am 27 now, in love, a real adult, eons away from the emotional state of my 17-year-old self. Still, even now, I can't help but where Dave & I would be had he made it. There are infinite variables, of course, including the fact that if he had made it through his dark place, I may not have made it through my own. But in a perfect world, if everything else remained the same except for his death, I wonder what would have become of us. We dreamed of getting an apartment together in New York City, listening to the city below as we stayed warm & contented inside. He dreamed of being a teacher, & I dreamed of being an author. We dreamed of being in love forever.

"We made plans to be unbreakable; love was all we knew. 
No insurance for the unthinkable, blindly get us through."

And yet, Dave & I were not on good terms when he died. In fact, I can't even remember whether we were on speaking terms at all. I suspect I've pushed this memory into some dark, cobwebby corner of my mind, not wanting to bring more pain upon myself than I've already experienced in Dave's name these almost-seven years. I remember vaguely the last time I saw him, at some concert in town (Lovedrug, was it?) when I spotted him across the room. The purple lights of the concert venue (where were we?) shined down upon him in such a way that he looked both regal & unreachable, beyond the boundaries we used to have. He wasn't mine anymore. I wrote a poem about it, about those lights, but it's long since been lost, which is probably for the better; I can't imagine my poetry was any good at 17. Still, I remember those lights over him. They were beautiful but sinister, somehow, & looking back, those lights & that poem feel foreboding.

I don't know much about psychology, but I know enough to recognize that I am still broken, in so many ways, by this first relationship & the baggage I carry from it. During the recent series finale of "Friday Night Lights," I cried & cried, not because my favorite show was ending but because I could never be like Tyra & Tim. I would never have that happy, contented reunification with my first love in which both parties happily share stories of their new, evolved lives, with all past misdeeds forgiven in the name of foolish youth. I still live with those misdeeds, & though they continue to fade with time, they have wounded me enough to have created hardened scars that I fear may never fully disappear.

I hurt Dave, & Dave hurt me. We were 17 & fragile, a mess of emotions in a time that celebrated the concept of "emo," of being so in touch with our feelings that we could hardly function. We were not unbreakable, after all. But for better or for worse, forever or not, he was my first love - and because he died much, much too soon, I find myself stuck in an unfortunate situational limbo, placing more importance on the sentiment of first love than I ever would were he still here, were we a normal, faded high school love story.

Dave was a musician - and in happier times, before everything imploded, he was madly in love with me. He once wrote a song in which he speculated of our wedding invitations, of a time when we were old enough & comfortable enough to share something as simple & intimate as brushing our teeth together. It ended with this line:

"Do we have the strength to make it there? 
Would you think less of me if I said yes?"

I think of this line & I like to imagine that in a perfect, parallel universe, somewhere beyond this one, Dave & Kate made it through. I hope they are happy - but I know they are.

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