…the nature of human longing and how an individual’s life is shaped by such dreams…
My first dream was to fall in love. At 7 I watched every Disney princess movie and while my brothers covered their eyes during the kissing scenes I would take it all in. At 11 the light of a flashlight would shine from under my sheets as I tried to sneak in another chapter of a romance novel. I longed for the day when I would meet somebody who would love me the way people were loved in movies and books. I yearned for someone to look at me the way they only did in the movies. At 15 I met Riley.
The colours that Riley had unleashed into my heart were bright and vivid.
I met him in spring.
We would sit together on the bus sharing our music through one pair of earbuds. With every song, I attempted to read between the notes to find some hidden meaning. Love songs suddenly meant so much more. I would place my hand palm up in between us hoping with every fibre of my being that he would take the hint. With all the confidence of a 14-year-old boy, he slid his hand into mine and I welcomed the fluttering it set alive in my stomach. My heart palpitated at the rate of a hummingbird’s wings. His green eyes held the potential of fulfilling my childhood fantasies. Everything was so new to me. The only love I’d known was from my books. His nervous hands in mine were a cliff I stood above looking down. He called me down with a two-finger whistle and I dived. I dived into the vast green unknowing carrying hope in my heart that this seed of a feeling could become a beautiful tree. My head slid to his shoulder and my heart slid into his hands.
He told me he loved me in the summer.
“Hey Sunshine, I love you,” he said one day with a shy smile. A promise. I glowed as if he reached inside me with a match and set my heart aflame. My light was evident. My name was joy. I skipped in the halls with a constant grin stuck on my face. The way he looked at me left me dazed and dizzy as it turned me round and round. Nights were spent texting. The light of my phone would shine from under my sheets as I tried to sneak in one last good night. Days were spent together. Laying in the yellow sand, my head in his lap, we would make promises with reckless abandon. We planned our future together. Move-in together after high school, get married, have two kids, and grow old together. Like a movie or a book, our plan for the future had no pain or obstacles. We would live happily ever after.
His mom got cancer in the fall.
“I need to get away for a while,” His mom got sick and he began to push me away. The fire coloured leaves of autumn signified the beginning of the end. We both had our own things to deal with and at 15 you are ill-prepared to deal with the harshness of life. It felt like we hadn’t talked in a month. Not like we used to at least. I wanted so desperately to help him and he didn’t want to be a burden. The hostile emptiness pursued me until our perfect future seemed unattainable. The uncertainty was the worst part. The tension only seemed to rise. Our old songs had a bittersweet aftertaste and left me preferring silence. Even when we had the chance to be together like we used to it never felt the same. Our time together was spent making empty promises about how things would get better. These promises felt different. We didn’t know this time. He had changed and so had I. The frost settled in.
We ended things in the winter.
“I’m sorry,” Our playlist of love songs became sad songs. With every song, I attempted to read between the notes to find a secret hope. But even the happy songs had changed their tune. The break left us sharp as partly sculptured stone. That winter was mine to be alone. I missed the feel of his hand in mine. I missed the cheesy goodnights and the dumb pet names. All that was green was overtaken by a blanket of snow. Evenings were spent mourning not only the loss of him but also the loss of the hopes and dreams I had of my happily ever after. The tears in my eyes pooled into a rushing waterfall that eroded and shaped the edges of my stone heart until I became something new. I watched, amazed, to see myself form and fade before my eyes.
The next spring was pink.
My bare trees slowly shook the snow from their sharp branches to find themselves softened by a blur of pink. Flowers covered the surface of my skin and coated my heart melting the previous memory of frost. While I no longer resembled the green sprout I was last spring my new form intrigued me. Love was different to me now. Spring brought hope and renewal unlike anything I had before. My dreams are forever changed. At 16 I long for much greater things than the childish love I once dreamed of. At 16 I became a woman.