The Scintilla Project is wrapping up its fortnight of story-telling. I know that I at least have plenty of prompts left over to mull over for the next little while. Today I am answering the prompt: Tell the story of how you got the thing you are going to keep forever. Include an image in your post, if you can.
I have never been much of a material girl. Things are things. They’re meant to be used and replaced as needed. While I have belongings that I cherish, such as the painting my grandfather received as payment for the frames he built the artist; or the hand drawn and inked map of Middle Earth that my mother gave me for my 20th birthday; or any of the jewelry that B has given me. Yet, while I know I would be sad if something happened to those, I also know that life would still go on without them. There is only one “thing” in this universe that I cannot do without and will keep with me for the rest of my existence.
I don’t know quite how I came into possession of it. The details of the transference are slightly fuzzy. Whether that’s from time passing or from memory making more of what was due to how life played out, I’m not sure. But I do know when I first realized what I had.
I know it wasn’t on that first night, when two slightly tipsy people danced and talked and changed numbers. There was too much control, I was not looking for anything more than a fun night out. And then, when he wanted my number, I knew he only had a couple of weeks left in town. I was happy to have a “just a good dating experience” guy to hang around with. Knowing that there was an ending gave me hope that there wouldn’t be anything devastating to end this relationship.
I know that I was warning it away on that first date, at the zoo on a Sunday afternoon. I told him that some girls (aka me) scared away most men (aka him), he told me that he wasn’t most men. So I badgered him with my nerdiness and dropped Harry Potter and Douglas Adams references in a five minute span, in the reptile house of course. He took me to a book store for our second date so that he could show me that his love of books equals my own.
I know that I found my courage when he offered me a Wednesday or a Friday for a date night and I asked him if it was an either/or or a both/and proposition. I got both date nights, though on Saturdays instead of Fridays, for the rest of the time he was in town. I know that I was afraid to talk about him to anybody, because somehow my “just a good dating experience” guy was starting to be more. I know that I cancelled on picking my brother up from the airport when he came home for Christmas so that we could squeeze in one last date because somehow the idea of saying goodbye was no longer easy.
Maybe it was on that last date, as in denial as I was at the time. Or maybe I wasn’t. See, I’ve always been terrified of heights. Most particularly when I’m not in control of how I confront them. So roller coasters were never acceptable. I was young, so young when my older and much adored male cousin told me that one day I would meet someone who made it worth it to ride a roller coaster. So when this date of mine asked if I wanted to go to Six Flags, I couldn’t say no.
Was it on that first coaster as I screamed and clenched my eyes closed? Or maybe on the next one where he coaxed me into opening my eyes? Or just possibly on one of the last rides of the night as we gleefully climbed into the front and now instead of fear there was nothing but exhilaration? Or possibly, much later that night, when he gave me his favorite book so that I would have to bring it back from him at a vague point in the future. We were breaking that cardinal rule and making plans further out than our relationship had thus lasted. I know that I promised to come see him in another state, somewhere I’d never been or wanted to go, and I know that I meant it with every ounce of my soul.
I do know when I knew it though. I was sitting home on Christmas Eve. Mom was in the kitchen prepping the breakfast casseroles, Dad and my sister were at church while my brother played games on his computer. I sat in the darkened living room, with just the glow of the Christmas tree in the background while I texted him. His family was already in bed. He was teasing me about something, possibly the book I had to return to him, he called me a thief. Without thinking I retorted that he’d already stolen something of mine. I recovered in time to tell him it was my breath he’d stolen (plus kisses). But long after he’d fallen asleep on the far side of the country, I sat there realizing that I no longer had my own heart. See, he’d stolen it and left his in its place. It’s been there ever since and I’m never giving it back.