The light began to splay over the iconic neo-gothic styling of the Mormon Temple. The crisp winter air stung my face, as my breath hung in the air like a cloud that followed one of those annoying people who use vaporizers as opposed to admitting they smoke. I blew hot air into my gloveless hands, and played with my amber necklace on the leather strap around my neck, before jamming them into my pockets in a feeble attempt to pretend the Utah winter didn’t bother me.
Never in my life did I think I would be spending another moment of winter in a cold-weather climate. I hated the cold. I hated winter. I loved the look of snow, but hated everything else about it. People would ooh and ahh over snow the way stoners would over reruns of Bob Ross on Netflix. I would begrudgingly put long johns on, and hope the cold would taper off quickly. I would miss Florida in those moments, but I also knew I could never go back. I would spend too much time thinking about, and missing her.
My rosy cheeks turned pinker as the wind whipped off The Great Salt Lake, beating my uncovered face with all the grace and kindness of an abusive lover. I prayed for the sun to feel like the flaming ball of fire it was, and did my best to avoid the urge to lick my already chapped lips. My nose ran, and no matter how hard I sniffed there was no way to keep my upper lip from being moistened by the bodily fluid.
Walking down North Temple toward my apartment, and the sun broke through the buildings, I was reminded of St. Pete. Not that the two cities have very much in common, not that there was any particular landmark that reminded me of my home, not that the weather was anything similar. It was probably because she and I had walked this exact street once before on a vacation, before…
Every time I walked this portion of the street I remembered that trip, and for that reason I usually tried to avoid the area. Unfortunately this was the quickest route from the Temple to my apartment, and the excessive cold had made this the most logical solution.
I was tired of missing her. I wished I would forget her every morning when she was the first thing on my mind. I wanted her to be a faded memory instead of a scar on my soul. I could still smell her in the passing air. No matter how many times I moved, no matter how many times I rerouted myself from my normal paths anytime I realized I was being reminded of her too often, no matter how many dates I went on with women who weren’t her, I still woke up wishing I was smelling her wavy, ginger hair. I missed that smell in the mornings. As the scent of her hair faded from her pillow, and our sheets I held back longer than one should from washing the sheets, because I wanted to hang on to every last bit of her.
After I knew I was going to have to leave St. Pete, I rid myself of many of her belongings so I wouldn’t be carrying her with me everywhere I went. Slowly, all of her belongings have been left behind by me in different cities as I tried to both retrace our storied romance, and forget her at the same time. All I had left was the amber necklace with the leather strap around my neck now. She had given me the necklace when I was released from the hospital after a car accident that probably should have killed me. She told me she had made it just for me, and that it would protect me from all the bad in the world. She had been incorrect for the first time in our relationship.
I missed our Sundays together. It was the one day everything was open for both of us, and we were able to be together, without the hinderance of work getting in the way. The two of us would wake up and make breakfast together, before going to grab coffee at Black Crow Coffee. We then would walk downtown, in one of the many rituals couples find themselves in. Those who make it never get tired of the monotony of the regiment, and those who don’t make it found comfort in knowing they soon wouldn’t have to do these chore-like activities again soon.
Holding hands, we would walk through the quaint city that is St. Pete. The views never really changed, except for the sunrises and sunsets, but the conversations would vary depending on our weeks. Never was there animosity in our words, but instead true depictions of our feelings, and actual discussions of the world. Many couples experience these conversations early in the relationship as you enter the “getting to know you” phase, and the ones who make it past that time have these conversations carry on for what feels like an eternity, in the best possible way. The couples who won’t make it forever will eventually end with the basic “How was your day” questions, and “Fine” type answers, before they sit silently on the couch waiting for the relationship, or their lives, to end. We would talk about life, philosophy, politics, science, religion, and everything else, because we wanted to envelope every piece of information about the other. If something came up where we disagreed we accepted the others answers, because for every belief another star was added to the constellation that was her, filling her out, making her beautiful, completing her in a way only seen by me.
The last Sunday we went for our walk she had decided to “dress down” in a simple grey hoodie, that read “Ghanaian for President,” and the leggings that had become so fashionable over the last few years. Her curly ginger hair was playfully up upon her head, and smelled the way it always had, and had always made me smile. She ran her fingers through her hair, joking about who she wished it was more manageable, even though I knew she liked it as wild, and uncontrollable as she was. The sun broke through the buildings behind her, illuminating her, making her look like the angel she was, and the angel she soon would be.
Every time the sun would break through buildings, shining through the mornings the way I had always imagined the voice of god looking when I still believed in such things, I remembered her in that moment, one of the last moments she and I would ever spend together. I hated the sun. I hated the voice of god. I hated anything that would remind me of that day, of her, of it all. I wanted to free of pain of missing her, but I never wanted to let her go. This is why I continued to run away, but only to place we had been to together. I was trying to escape, but unable to let go.
I just wanted to let go.
Walking into my apartment I looked around, having gone through this before, and probably will have to go through it again, I estimated how long it would take for me to pack and move. This time I was going to have to move on to Seattle, the last bastion for me, the last bastion for us. The last place she and I visited together, and the place I was most assuredly going to find my salvation. Hopefully my search would finally come to an end there, and I would finally be able to wake up in the mornings without smelling her scent on her pillow.