When I think of you, I remember the taste of cigarettes in your mouth. I hated that taste, but I longed for your kisses anyway. And then I hated myself for wanting them, because I’d sworn I’d never date a smoker.
When I think of you, I think of late mornings: open windows, sunshine and the first day of spring. Ringed stains from the night before’s pinot grigio next to the morning’s orange juice at the table. I’d often wake up feeling overindulgent and lazy, as I watched you smoke on the balcony. I hated waking up late, but it felt so good with you. I wanted not to like it.
When I think of you, I remember the incense smell that permeated your apartment. I was never sure if you actually liked that smell, or if you just thought it was cool to burn incense. Sometimes it seemed as if you were hoping to smoke out some part of yourself that you didn’t like. A classic troubled artist. It was never enough to mask the smell of cigarettes.
When I think of you, I can’t help but feel a little nostalgia. As much as we were not meant for each other, there were the sweet moments: when you helped me chop tomatoes and parsley I’d brought from the market for pasta. The way we stole such delicious, perfect glances across the courtyard at school, trying to keep our cool. How we utterly failed to do so because, well, endorphins. The way you made me feel like your muse, and later, showed me I actually was.
We were fun. But despite the sweetest cream at the top, we both knew we were empty. Like kids from families who hate each other: nothing in common besides the thread of curiosity about one another. You grew up with a driver, speaking in a language I will never know; I grew up watching ants on the sidewalks of Tennessee. You were a storytelling romantic with a depressive streak. I was a depressive who loved romantic stories. So we watched Woody Allen movies together, laughing mostly at different jokes.
We were fun. We were empty. But every now and then, I think of you.
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