I recently got back in touch with Kyla. The casual reader will not, of course, have any idea what this means. Those who know me well enough, however, may pause here to let it sink in.
Kyla Chapman was my first love. I met her the summer I turned 17, in Nelson. Alongside a mixed table of other friends old and new at The Vienna Cafe. Summer afternoon sun slanted in through the window, lit up her hair. And that smile. A walk of two blocks later, and we shared a fetish for green jellybeans.
Our first kiss in that tent among the apple trees; her bare-assed run back to the house, dress a-blow in the moonlit breeze; a scene worthy of some re-mixed or otherwise less-melancholic Cure song… (“Pictures Of You”, if I might suggest it).
But summertime romance far from home is never meant to last, not like that. Yes, there were the letters, the calls, and when all seemed lost (hell it was lost!), the run-run-run-away, the long weird bus-ride south… And that last Bonnington night, I sat on the Chapman’s back porch, looked up at a different kind of moon, filtered by barren autumn branches, and cried out all the hopeless tears a rejected teenage soul can hold. I was so sure then that these things that do not last will be forever lost.
For ten years on after, I thought of her every day; not always a large thought, perhaps just a fleeting half-tone image or un-grasped note on the wind, but every day. Other relationships came and went; some in time proving to be of far more substance than that sliver of summer… But in each, there I was, trying in some same small insane way to fix that past failure. In every woman I found myself seeking out that part of Kyla, that part to whom I would beseech and plead and ultimately fail to “fix” at all.
At 27 years old, I hit bottom. I had destroyed, one by one, the best relationships I had. I’d broken Krista’s heart by falling in love with another younger girl, someone in whom I saw more of my relationship with Kyla to fix; that relationship, too, would quickly and painfully pass. I was broke, increasingly homeless, and steadily alienating every last friend I had.
Then… There was this one crazy 5:00 AM autumn morning… the weirdest mist flooded up from the lake and had the local visibility down to a few feet… the barest trickle of dawn light suffused the scene with an unworldly glow. Even inside, with no glass in the windows, the fog rolled in.
I stepped outside, and into the smallest feeling I had ever had. Right then, I felt as small and insignificant as I could be… and then, for the shortest moment my awareness could sense, the I which felt so small shrank to nothingness itself.
Of course, this is not an awareness than can be held on to. But in that split second, I learned to stop holding on to that perpetual awareness of Kyla.
A couple more relationships have passed through my life in the next ten years since then. Some have fared poorly (with Kim, I was trying to repair mistakes I’d made with Krista), while some have fared beautifully. Most beautifully, many of those past relationships and friendships have come full circle, or had their own circles overlap mine; love or hate Facebook, there’s been no few re-connections there. A few things never fail to amaze me: people have seldom forgotten me, although they usually assume I have forgotten them; furthermore, they are themselves typically amazed to learn just how much, and in what detail, I remember them.
Perhaps it is closure after all. Or maybe it’s just that, in looking down the timeline from the other end, we see that some things never needed to be closed at all. Mostly, I think it is knowing so much more of how I think that has changed so much of how I feel.
7, 17, and 27… interesting years, still redolent with the mistakes/lessons that have been my rod and staff. I find myself looking forward, with wry smile and cocked brow, towards 37. Perhaps the best lesson I’m learning is to stop trying to fix the past, repair the mistakes, and un-break the hearts… and that while indeed nothing does ever last, nothing is ever really lost at all.