The Girl I Loved
There are so many things I loved about that girl with the sharp eyes. I don’t even know if I could count the ways she infiltrated into my life, seeping into the nooks and crannies before I noticed. I kept finding pieces of her there long after she was gone.
So of course this is where you ask me, what kind of girl was she? And this is where I open my mouth to speak, but nothing comes out, because there’s no way I could possibly focus on one thing at a time. She was a swirl of everything, and I can never remember one specific thing about her before I’m pelted with all kinds of memories of her. So let me just tell you about my memories of her and maybe you’ll catch some sort of the essence of who she was, now that she’s gone.
Her feet were smaller than mine, but she was still quite tall; I could just see over the top of her head. We measured ourselves against each other once, our backs pressed against each other, our feet bared on the blonde wood floor with the heels pressed against each other. I remember the way the back of her calves pressed against the back of mine, how her elbows jutted into my side as she tried to pull herself up to be taller.
She was stubborn and single-minded. Once, she and I walked home from the ocean, across an entire city, because she refused to have to take a bus to get home. "Why do I want to pay $2 to get home so quickly, when I can walk and see everything around me," she would ask me. I didn’t have an answer for her so we walked and walked, our feet becoming sore, our shoulders tiring from holding our bags.
This girl that I loved, she had a lot of favourite things. She had a favourite handkerchief that she washed every other day in the sink after she got home, squeezing all the water out of it so it would dry in time to use the next day. I still remember her pulling it out of her handbag to dab at the edge of her mouth or to wipe the corner of her eye. She had a favourite bench at the park and a favourite drinking glass at home. Actually, she had one glass she preferred for water, a different mug for coffee, another glass for drinking beer, and a stemless glass for wine and liquor. She had a favourite dress that was slightly torn, but she didn’t think anyone noticed, so she kept wearing it until the material became so thin it started to tear. Always a creature of habit, once she decided to love something, she used it until she broke it or it was lost.
She told me once that she thought the way my left eye crinkled when I laughed was nicer than the right eye. I wasn’t sure if I should feel happy for my left eye, or sad for my right. I suppose it all cancelled out in the end though, so I felt ambiguous about it, but every time I laughed, I tried to see if her smile favoured my left side over my right.
She let me worry about the small things like that, the details of our lives, like the way our hands folded together, her cool fingers nestled between my warm ones. Her palms and fingertips were always calloused from some reason or another. She played the guitar for a while and built up a thick set of callouses on her left fingertips. I liked to feel them scratch against the back of my knuckles.
When I close my eyes, I think about the feel of those rough little fingers pressing into the valleys between my knuckles. I think about how her neck always smelled like a mixture of skin and lavender conditioner, how her hair was unruly and curled in only one direction. She used to bake cookies on a whim, humming along while she scooped out the dough onto the sheet. Rushing through our flat, she’d leave behind the faint smell of her perfume, bunched up socks under the coffee table, a few hairs shaking loose from her hairbrush and collecting on the bathroom floor.
I miss her loud laugh, the soft padding of her feet running down the hallway, the way she shook her hair and hips to music, the way she kept her torn stockings just in case they’d be useful. I even miss the way she rolled over in bed immediately upon waking and reached over to rub on my hair. It was always the first thing she did each morning, her legs stretching under the covers. And I remember rolling my head towards her and cracking open my eyes to look at her face. The first thing I see is her hair spread against the pillow, sticking up in funny ways from sleep, but even now, I can’t remember her face entirely. I think I see her, but then she disappears, replaced by all the snippets of my memories. I remember her, and yet I never had her. She was never mine.
Where have you gone, my love? Come back to me.