The funny thing about long-ago heartbreak is that even years later, an old wound can resurface down the line and make you remember everything you thought, with time, you would forget.
I am the kind of person who hardly ever forgets, especially when it comes to matters of the heart. I remember my first kiss when I was 12 years old in vivid detail, and I will never forget pulling away from my old house in my red, ’98 Ford Explorer while my (now ex) boyfriend and one of my best friends cried in the pool parking lot across the street. I will never forget the way his face looked or the slump of his shoulders as watched me drive away. (At the time, I had no choice, but obviously this led to bigger and better things, but we’ll get to that.) I remember how horrible some girls from school were when they wore t-shirts to commemorate the event. Even now, I have never heard so much hate and hurt in someone’s voice as when he told me that story. High school can be a mean, trying time.
That all being said, hardly ever forgetting gets me into trouble mentally. It means at any random part of my day or week or year, any variety of my old memories pop up, playing like a movie in my head while I’m held down at gunpoint and forced to watch. That moment happened this morning when I was feeding and rocking my 4 1/2-month-old baby girl, Isla, back to sleep.
All of a sudden, as if a panic room full of my deepest, most intimate memories exploded, several different things came back to me. I remembered the day my ex-boyfriend gave me a promise ring, and I remember his frustration when his little brother (now a grown man; talk about sobering) told me how much it cost over dinner with his family in their home. I remember “Life Ain’t Always Beautiful” playing on the radio when we were driving his stepdad’s truck to a baseball game, it started pouring rain, and it spun out of control on the highway. Talk about irony. We almost got hit by a semi truck going 70, and I perfectly remember the fear in his eyes not from the fact that we almost wrecked and could have died, but from the fact that he almost hurt me. I remember the first awful fight we got in outside of Chick-fil-A when I came back to visit him in North Carolina after moving to Ohio. I remember bawling and shaking on the floor of my parents’ sun room while my mom held me after he broke up with me a month after I moved. I remember him telling me, almost a year later and while we were both with someone else, that he still loved me.
Many of these memories may sound painful, but they aren’t. There are many more I remember and could share, but I will keep those to myself. When these explode in my mind, it’s incredible to see that even though some are sad and are some of my worst or most hurtful memories, I smile when I think of them.
Experiencing the art of truly loving someone when you’re young is simultaneously wonderful, naive, and awful. We are usually left vulnerable, afraid, and confused. That being said, we are left open; open to love, open to new things, open to new people. Had I not gone through these experiences, I never would have been led to my husband, the greatest man I have ever known or had the opportunity to know and love.
The fact that these memories all popped up when I was holding my baby girl had to say something. They followed a dream I had about the same boy, but that isn’t what brought them to my attention. As I played this movie in my mind, all I could think was this:
I hope Isla finds young love. I hope it is a whirlwind; that it consumes her. I hope she has her heart broken…maybe even more than once. I hope she remembers these things for years to come, and I hope it all leads her to the person she is supposed to be with. I hope she remembers even the saddest of memories fondly. I hope she laughs when she thinks of that person, and I hope she smiles and wishes them well. Mostly, I hope she lives a full life that contains happiness, sadness, hurt, excitement, sorrow, recollections, and nostalgia.
Because what else could you wish for your baby girl than a life as full of happiness as your own has been?