“So, how is your boyfriend?”
The question was bound to be asked. “You mean from 4th of July?” I answered back, my voice dropping at the same speed at which my heart sunk. “Oh,” he said, in a voice close to a whisper, “I see.” “Yeah,” I said dryly, a little surprised and relieved that no tears had sprung to well up in my eyes, “We broke up four days later.” “You two seemed pretty in love,” he said not looking up at me as he spoke, perhaps waiting in case the tears did come. “We were.” “Then why did you break up with him?” he asked. “Actually, he left me,” I said, each word going through me like thread through a needle stitching me with the coarse thick thread of the reality I didn’t want to speak. “Wow, but, he seemed so smitten with you. You two seemed so happy.”
How long ago was July 4th that the memory of it is so far from me? As my coworker put it, this was the summer that never was for me, the summer that I once thought would be the best summer of my life. And yet, it never happened. At least not in the way I expected.
“I never want to see another firework again,” I said with a trace of sarcasm that vainly concealed my bitterness, and then laughed. “Yeah,” he said, “I hear you. I’m still in love with my first girlfriend.” I paused. “You can’t say that,” I reprimanded, “You’re married!” “Yes,” he replied, “but I never got over her.” “Bet your stomach would drop if you saw her enter a room then?” I asked, feeling as though I was conducting my own research separate from our organization. “Oh yeah, you never forget when you love someone like that.” I knew too well what he said was true. That’s when I decided I was doomed, and that the fact that my friendly coworker - who had scarce seen me since my final summer night with N - had helped me move my desk away from the window was a blessing because I wouldn’t be able to think about jumping out of it after that conversation as I surely might have.
Of course I’m only kidding. If anything, I felt OK after that exchange. I didn’t fall to pieces. I didn’t do the “girl-thing” and cry or get misty eyed reminiscing about times past. I didn’t even let myself remember. How much life can change in a couple of days, weeks, months, years, and yet not change at all.
When my coworker left, I settled in at my desk, facing the wall and the inside of the office. There on the desk, the same infamous post-it note I’d posted to make myself smile at any given moment back in May, “Remember to Cntrl+Click.”
I haven’t forgotten.