I stood in a dimly-lit room, walls of brick and soft speech echoed over hardwood floors. I paced, holding a copy of KILLER no one had seen. It hadn’t been released yet. It wouldn’t be for another four weeks. It was my first time reading from it to an audience.
I’d invited him, but I hadn’t expected him to show up. I didn’t expect much of anything from men back in those days. I say “those days,” like it was so long ago. It doesn’t feel like it was only a year.
My shoes were uncomfortable. My hands were shaking. I held a conversation fine, I always do, but I felt like I couldn’t breathe. The portrait at the top of the stairs watched me. Was it Shakespeare or Frost? I don’t remember.
And then he walked in.
For about a year, my social media memories brought me nothing but pain. Reader, I’m sure you know the feeling. A Facebook memory of a past relationship, a Snapchat memory of a moment that hurts to think of now. I dreaded looking on some days.
My memories have brought tears these past few weeks, but these are different. They’re happy. Today was the day he showed up when no one else had. How he found me in that crowded room and walked straight to me, how he kissed me in front of everyone there. He wasn’t embarrassed by me, not afraid for other people to see us. He held my hands while I waited. His voice was a frequency that made my heartbeat slow.
And then we walked for hours around the same square. We talked about everything and nothing, we laughed harder than I had in months. I smiled with him. He listened. He made me feel like I was worth something. It wasn’t a feeling I was used to.
It’s been a year since that night that turned into morning. It’s been six months of “I love you’s,” and eight of “I miss you’s.” A year of feeling more loved than I have ever known.
A year of forgiveness, a year of new beginnings.