Before the importance of $1.99 dry cleaning, before chugging giant cups of coffee every morning, before my wardrobe became 40 percent pencil skirts and slacks, before I gained a penchant for drinking Chardonnay and a disdain for the “Reply All” button at work, before I ever paid a student loan bill, before I got a shrink, before I bought a wine opener, an apple cutter, and a cat, before I dipped my toe into the sinking pool of adulthood, there was you.
You existed in a world where I wore leggings constantly and owned a Blackberry Curve. We fell into a sleepy and casual mutual understanding, punctuated by other shenanigans. We watched a lot of fucking ESPN. We exchanged our fears about our impending adulthood, seniors in college who were so worried about what would become of us post university yet so, so, so blind about how rapidly real life would strike.
We did not keep in touch because we were not really friends. Stray text messages appeared on my phone’s screen intermittently throughout my moves around the country, our cadence destroyed without the 5-minute proximity and cushiony collegiate comfort we once knew.
To say I miss you is a false overstatement. But, when I catch myself considering serious relationships, when I debate the pros and cons of settling down, when I recall the unsteady and bewildering dating world I’ve inhabited post-college, I remember the simpler times. I remember the times when settling down was not a concern, an option or a topic up for conversation at family gatherings. I remember when I did not have to worry about “where things were going” with someone, when I did not have to ask men if they had children before responding to a date request, when I did not feel compelled to pen my way through humiliating conclusions to non-relationships.
I remember when “Hey, what are you doing tonight?” struck me as a totally appropriate query to which I would respond. I remember when it did not matter if you were failing your classes, it did not matter if you had a taste for cannabis, it did not matter if you didn’t know what the fuck you wanted to do with your life. All that mattered was whether or not you were free when I decided to text you.
I do not miss you. But, yes, occasionally, I miss the simpler times.
I always knew our narrative would be finite. Trying to continue the story post-college would be searching for words to an epilogue that did not need to be written and would merely bore the very writers scribing it. You were flip-flops–something comfortable I threw on until the world pressured me to grow up and buy real shoes.
I texted you a few weeks ago to wish you a Happy Birthday, but as the cosmos would have it, your phone number has changed. That is what time does–creates gaping holes between now and before without us even being privy to the chasm. I’m floating in nostalgia, but I am not sad. I’m just remembering simpler times.