You lose her when you forget to remember the little things that mean the world to her: the sincerity in a stranger’s voice during a trip to the grocery, the delight of finding something lost or forgotten like a sticker from when she was five, the selflessness of a child giving a part of his meal to another, the scent of new books in the store, the surprise short but honest notes she tucks in her journal and others you could only see if you look closely.
You must remember when she forgets.
You lose her when you don’t notice that she notices everything about you: your use of the proper punctuation that tells her continuation rather than finality, your silence when you’re about to ask a question but you think anything you’re about to say to her would be silly, your mindless humming when it is too quiet, your handwriting when you sign your name in blank sheets of paper, your muted laughter when you are trying to be polite, and more and more of what you are, which you don’t even know about yourself, because she pays attention.
She remembers when you forget.
You lose her for every second you make her feel less and less of the beauty that she is. When you make her feel that she is replaceable. She wants to feel cherished. When you make her feel that you are fleeting. She wants you to stay. When you make her feel inadequate. She wants to know that she is enough and she does not need to change for you, nor for anyone else because she is she and she is beautiful, kind and good.
You must learn her.
You must know the reason why she is silent. You must trace her weakest spots. You must write to her. You must remind her that you are there. You must know how long it takes for her to give up. You must be there to hold her when she is about to.
You must love her because many have tried and failed. And she wants to know that she is worthy to be loved, that she is worthy to be kept.
My best friend is a middle school teacher and she just told us that she farts on students that she doesn’t like. She like pretends to circle around the class while they do classwork and just stops at certain students and farts in their personal space. It was recommended to her by a fellow teacher. Just want you guys to be careful out there.. Whether you’re in high school or college just…. Just be careful. Especially in the public school system
I am walking in the city when I see him. Sixteen, with a cigarette in mouth. Wearing a white shirt with stains in the underarms. Knock-off Wayfarers tucked into the collar. Hair slicked back. He is pulling a comb from his pocket and out comes a lighter too. He smirks, flips his comb open, lights his cigarette and then, while looking off into the distance, finally answers my question. “Yes,” he says, “I’ve got a lighter.”
Two years later, I skip gym class and find a boy sitting on a snowy tree stump just past the school gate. He is 18, with a large wool peacoat thrown over his lean body. A bit of pudge sticks out from under his wrinkled white dress shirt. I see him drinking beer after beer, and smiling larger with each one. I shiver and walk past him, until he calls out, “Hey, you got somewhere to be?” I turn around. “Not really, no.” He scoots over, making room for me on the stump. “Want to take a seat?” I sit down slowly and offer him a slight smile. He takes a sip of his beer-cheap stuff, likely stolen-turns away from me to burp and then excuses himself, and then says, “Cigarette?”
At the end of the school year, I see my boyfriend lighting a cigarette in his car after an exam. “You smoke now?” I ask. I am so annoyed with him. He tries so hard to be something that should take no effort at all. I have to look out the window to keep from cringing at his deliberately untucked shirt, artfully messy hair, and now the cigarette posed perfectly between his “just chapped enough” lips. “I’m stressed,” he spits back at me. I study the snow and roll my eyes. When he’s finished, he starts the car and puts on a smooth jazz station, tapping his fingers on the steering wheel to the song. Three months earlier, I tried to take him to a jazz bar and he told me everything I liked was “old-ladyish and weird.” When we reach his house, I get out after him and then steal his pack. Later that night, he heads to his car to “think” and then comes back a few minutes later with his hands shoved deep inside his pockets. “That was fast,” I say. “Yeah, I just had to get some fresh air,” he says, while slipping into bed, smelling of nothing but pine. He is snoring in two seconds, so happy to be relieved of his smoking habit that he’s fallen asleep half-smiling. I look at him for a few seconds, then slip out of the covers, grab his pack from my jacket pocket, and go outside. I return smelling of tobacco and pine.
A few years later, I take myself out to a bar and see a man putting his cigarette into his mouth, flicking his lighter, and smiling at me as he inhales. A cloud of smoke is blown into my face as he asks me my name. I give him a fake one. I don’t feel too much like myself anyway-eighteen, and standing on a street congested with bars and traffic at two a.m. We go into the upper level of the closest bar and inside, he buys me “whatever’s on the tap” with the change in his pocket. “Honey,” he says. “Honey, what are you doing in a place like this?” He is combing his hair as he says this, and I am suspicious that he is only looking into my eyes in hopes of seeing his reflection. I laugh in response. To this, he declares, “I need a smoke break.” He opens his pack, puts one in-between his teeth, and then offers one to me. I shake my head. “Suit yourself,” he says. “I won’t be too long. Otherwise I’ll start to miss you.” I watch him walk down the stairs as I sip the last of my beer. I am about to join him when I notice a back door. I check my watch, then walk down the bar’s fire escape and go home. He can’t miss what he doesn’t know.
That night, with my elbows resting on my fire escape, I light a cigarette and look at the sleeping city. Hot red lights, trucks unloading in the dark, the occasional scream of a car horn cutting through the stars. I suck in deeply, hold the smoke in my throat for so long that I almost forget it’s there, and then exhale. Gone. I am secondhand smoke. I have been breathed out by so many mouths that the stale smell of me clings to your clothes. I am in your new girlfriend’s hair when she comes home from the bar. I am floating outside your window when you return to our old apartment. And I am blackening your lungs one touch at a time.