To all the boys I’ve ever loved

I lied about love. I’ve always loved the idea. I pretended to be a cynic because I thought it would be easier, put less pressure on everything. But if I’m being honest, there were moments when I let myself believe you were it. In many ways, you made love less of an idea and more of a truth.

I wasn’t necessarily looking for someone. After being single for so long I had convinced myself there was no need to add another person. I was fine. You were always there, I noticed, but I never thought of us being a possibility so I gave up on the idea. That was until you made it clear we were.

Falling in love was something I never wanted to do because falling meant crashing at some point, so I kept you far enough to protect myself. Or at least that’s what I thought I was doing. I just didn’t understand that with liking or loving or being in love with someone, a crash is inevitable.

We, or rather I, crashed some time ago. It was agonizing and wonderful and depressing. I broke in places I didn’t know existed, but I like to think I gained more good than I hurt. On my worst days, I still feel the impact reverberating through me. Those days don’t come so quickly anymore. For the most part, it’s just a muffled ache. A faded scar to smile at when remembering how I got it.

I don’t think you ever lose the love you had for someone. It’s kind of like energy, it just transforms into something else: a longing, a memory. I don’t want that love I had for you to go away. I want to remember you and those moments where I had you—even the crappy ones. I want to remember how you made me feel and how we were.

Regardless of whether we ended badly or not, losing you still hurt. To feel the silence and distance creep in, until we were too far apart to get back to where we started. It was a constant pressure sitting on my chest, threatening to make it collapse all together. I missed you in the mornings, when I woke up to a blank phone; and when anything good happened because I couldn’t tell you; but mostly, I missed you in the quiet moments, when life slowed down enough for me to realize just how much I missed you.

I’ve always told myself not to confuse missing someone for love, because they’re two very different things. Time tends to make everything shinier. So maybe I never loved you, maybe I just loved the space of time we were in. How you presented yourself to me when I actually did need someone. Someone to loosen the stiff ropes that held me up, to see myself in a way I never could without seeing who I was reflected in your voice, and the way you listened, and how you touched.

When our friendship or our relationship or whatever we were ended, I blamed you. I did everything right: I was always there, I cared—probably too much. It was easier to project the problems of our relationship onto you, because then I didn’t have to evaluate myself. But it was my fault too. I never told you that because I’m stubborn and proud.

I still think of you. I don’t push you out of my thoughts anymore, I actually welcome you. A memory can pass through my mind and I don’t cringe. I can let a song we so often bobbed our heads to flow louder and louder through my speakers without feeling the need to turn it off. When someone randomly mentions your name, I find myself quietly smiling.

I’m a firm believer that people come into your life for a reason. You weren’t an accident or a mistake. I think you were put in front of me so I could learn; expand my view of myself and the world around me and learn how to trust people with the pieces of myself I give them. Truth is, I would take all the hurt and all the disappointment again just to relive the good parts of us.

We don’t really talk anymore. If we do, it’s mainly just a shallow string of words acknowledging our distance in the way we feel the need to catch up on each other’s lives. For the most part, it’s silence. But it’s not the painful kind anymore, it’s understanding, acceptance.

And today, as Valentine’s Day gets closer, I find myself thinking about you a lot. Hoping that wherever you are, you’ve found contentment and whoever you’re with, you’ve found love. That in between the quiet moments in your life, I hope I pass through your mind every once in awhile. And when I do, I hope it makes you smile too.

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