To someone I reconnected with recently
Okay. Before I (officially) begin: I love you.
It’s the same kind of love that I have for my sister.
You’re my mentor, my friend — can I call you my friend?
I saw you today.
You looked like you used to in high school. I look at you and see my past — but isn’t that how it always is?
I kept sneaking glances at you as I talked, and I would sometimes see you smiling. Was that at me, or something else? It was so familiar, and so strangely foreign.
We argued about libraries.
Is it possible to remember that you miss someone?
Did I mention that I was nervous earlier?
I told a lot of this to my friend, you know, the one I kept bringing up. I told her that there were two possibilities.
- We are different people, and I’m forced to try to untangle whether I changed, you changed, or both of us changed.
- I’m forced to reckon with the passage of time and experience my worst fear — that things are going to be Different. That Ana (personite) isn’t actually a part of Ana (person) and that my formative years are going to come from MIT (terrifying).
- We have somehow remained similar enough people that we can fall back into the roles we had in high school.
- I’m forced to reckon with the passage of time and know that — no matter how many things pass, and how much distance I get — I will still be that high school girl that felt so much Hunger and Ache that it was impossible to progress.
Sorry, I forgot. I can’t remember what happened with you and what happened around you.
Did I tell you about Ana (person) and Ana (personite)?
Did I tell you about Hunger?
Did I tell you about Ache?
Also, it was the second possibility, but it’s softened since high school.
It’s been a while since we talked, hasn’t it? I’m sorry about that.
I kept getting caught up on the little things: that bookshelf, the podium, the chair.
There’s this story I read once — a love story, like all good ones are.
The two main characters move in together at the end, and they mix their books on one bookshelf. It was a profound moment for them. Sometimes, I’ll text a friend, “THE BOOKS” or “THE BOOKSHELF,” and we’ll share a moment of understanding.
I sent her “the bookshelf” the other day, but I was referring to you.
You have the power to recontextualize things for me.
Please be careful with that.
It hit me all at once.
I didn’t realize you could forget you loved someone until I was sitting across from you again. My friend says I didn’t really forget, I just haven’t thought about it in a little while. Like picking up a journal you haven’t read in months.
You always seemed so huge to me in high school.
I told my friend that you had always been too large for the bento box I tried to put you in.
Sorry, did I tell you about bento boxes?
They’re how I store things in my head. I put things into different boxes to try to organize the way that I think. You’ve always been in a box, in a box, in a box.
In high school, you would leak out of it.
My friend suggested that I make you another — one for then, one for now. But it was never about the box, was it?
Maybe it wasn’t even really about you.
Maybe it was more about isolation and sadness and comfort and trying, desperately, to find a place for myself.
That was what you were for a long, long time — a safe place.
It’s been a while since we’ve seen each other.
You seem like a person to me, now.
It was weird to discover you aren’t any bigger than I am.
I still let you leak out of that bento box.
What I always forgot in high school is that relationships are a choice. I worried for some time whether you loved me too because I didn’t realize we were both choosing that intricate ritual.
Sorry, did I tell you about intricate rituals?
I have a lot of rituals with different people. Ours is one of many that I’ve collected over the years. Cursed thought? is also one of them.
It’s because we’re trying to communicate something that I can’t say, usually.
You said something ridiculous about libraries. I said something more ridiculous. You pointed it out. I refused to budge — despite knowing at the outset that I would be wrong.
I told you, “I haven’t done that in such a long time.”
I wonder if you understood that I meant, “No one has taken your place.”
I wore the same white sweater that I used to in high school. I’ve kept it all these years as an extension of myself and who I used to be.
You recognized it. You asked me about it.
God, it’s so intimate to remember someone.
It’s like, you know how some things belong to people? Not just objects, but places, thoughts, feelings.
There’s this poem that I read at MIT, have you read it?
I’m greedy —
It was weird to see you because you still had the things I left. You kept them for me. We could share them for the hour.
I’ll leave them with you again and come back later for them.
I can’t explain to you how many times I wrote, in pages covered with neat circles,
I wonder if he remembers me the way I remember him.
Nov. 2, 2018
He smiled awkwardly. Was that at me or something else?
Dec. 3, 2018
I want him to love me.
Maybe these feelings don’t have anything to do with him at all. Maybe it’s all just from myself.
I don’t want him to forget me.
But why would he? Do I really think that I’m forgettable?
March 20, 2019
It took me a while to believe it, but thank you for loving me.
And I know I said we had fallen into the same roles as high school, but it’s never entirely that simple, is it? I’ve changed, you’ve changed. I’m going to keep changing.
But I’m happy. I promise you, I’m happy.
Love and wishes,
Ana (Paola) Reyes Sánchez
Your friend, I hope.