Songs and scents are like bookmarks. Or at least I think so. A single song or a single scent can awaken all the memories hidden in that part of my mind that says don’t enter, do not, do NOT.
After you left, I tried to forget about you. I tried to forget your scent, the sound of your voice – the warmth of it and the comfort of it. But I couldn’t. You had left your mark everywhere, your hand print in my journal, the rhythm of the clock you gifted me, your pictures on my cell phone, everywhere, you were everywhere. On the palm of my hand, in between the strands of my hair, in between sips of water, in between the systematic beats of my heart, everywhere. I didn’t know how to hate you because you taught me how to love. I didn’t know how to forget you because in just three years, you gave me memories of an entire lifetime.
You left a year ago, and to this day, I still struggle to hate you.
Two days ago, I listened to the song we sang the day we realised our love for each other. We blared The Only Exception in between our study break that Wednesday evening, devouring each word of the song and finally understanding the beauty of having someone to run with you, to walk with you, to share your sadness, your happiness and the last slice of pizza with. “This is our song”, you said, playfully interrupting me as I explained to you why Volunteer Tourism isn’t always the best idea. And I just smiled in response. “And this,” you said typing ,’Misguided Ghosts’, onto YouTube’s search box, “is my song”.
As I listened to the song, its words attacked me with an explosion of memories of you, memories about us. I reached for the leather-bound journal your sister gifted me on my birthday. I untied the various knots I made around it – my feeble attempt at locking you away – seven minutes later, the knots had finally come undone. I sighed, set the journal down, and got myself a glass of water. I knew opening the journal meant dabbing salt into the wounds that had taken refuge in my life after you left, but I did it anyway.
Skipping the first few pages, I landed onto the 17th of March. The day we both smoked your father’s Lonsdale cigar, I choked up within the first few drags, but you went on and on and on. Blowing out clouds of smoke towards the off-blue ceiling of your bedroom. You tried to blow out rings, attempting to impersonate Gandalf, but you failed miserably, causing me to burst out into laughter with each failed attempt. I knew what came next so I decided to skip it, and jumped all the way to the 3rd of July. The day we spoke endlessly about our childhood homes, “what a dump it was”, you had said about your neighbourhood and I sarcastically sighed telling you that you were definitely exaggerating. Then onto the 14th of January, when we rode the train all they way to your neighbourhood, just because you needed to prove to me “it is still a dump, believe me, will you?”. Then onto the 9th of May, when I cut my hair, and you joked that, “oh look, you’ve finally met with your life long dream of being a man!”, to which I shot you the most disgusted look I could muster. Then onto your birthday when we danced around to Water Prayer on repeat. Then onto my birthday, when we visited the largest second-hand bookshop in the whole of England. Followed by the bar with worn-out walls and the monotonous host trying to crack what he thought were hilarious jokes about his old and greying wife, we laughed anyway, sipping the bitterness of Vodka mixed with orange-juice and ice. I stopped reading after that entry, and shoved the journal in the trunk under my bed, and pulled out an enveloped addressed, ‘I love you’.
I left my room with the last letter you sent me, making my way outside. Outside the white-walled, overly mismatched furnished apartment. Down the unnecessarily oversized elevator. I sat down on the second-last step of the building’s entrance. Before opening the envelope, I bent its edges hoping that by some magical fold, the contents of the letter would change.
I began to focus my attention on the puddle that was beginning to form just a few feet away from me because of the rain. I watched as the water, like our love flowed and eventually, over-flowed. I opened the letter and began to read for the 100th time that you had to leave because, ‘I am saving us both by leaving, I am sorry, I am sorry, I love you, I am sorry, I love you, I am sorry…’
You broke me, you broke us. All the promises you made, all the plans we made, all the things we talked about, seep from my body as tears, anger and my inability to forget you, as I try to comprehend what went wrong. I let you into my life without a warning, and you left without a warning. Your last letter to me was scribbled with sorry’s, I love you’s, and barely a valid reason for your departure. Misguided Ghosts was your song, and that’s what you became – a misguided ghost, my misguided ghost.