I’ve had something on my mind recently, and I’m not sure what to do with it. When these moments happen, I write them down – usually into stories, but not today. Today we’re doing a blog post.
I’ve done a lot of learning since I finished university. Mostly about myself, and especially in the last year and a half. Back then I don’t think I really even knew much about myself.
Some life moments ripple out across the rest of your life. Those memories never leave you; I remember the night my cousin almost died, a shard of metal embedded deep in his stomach – it still feels like it could have been last week, but it was seven years ago. These key events ripple, and they can be good or bad, happy or tragic. They follow you, their reverberations echoing through your daily life even when you barely notice them.
This one was a happy moment. There was a girl in my creative writing class, her name was Emily.
I’d always thought she was kind of cute, and one seminar, we ended up working together. We had fun and we decided to walk together after the seminar ended; she forgot her charger and we had to go back to collect it. I don’t remember the details of our conversations, but I remember the instant admiration I had for her. Speaking to her came so naturally, and we walked for hours around campus together, talking about everything and nothing.
I used to walk the woods a lot when I was at uni. I found abandoned buildings, old streams and lakes, bridges long-unused, piles of felled trees that had been there for years. I took her there and we walked by torchlight. We spoke about our families, our struggles with anxiety, where we’d come from and our hopes for the future. She was from Ireland, on a placement here. When we parted ways and she got back to her dorm, she messaged me, thanking me for getting her out of her room. She’d been isolated too long, and it was nice to get to speak to someone else. My heart melted.
We did this several times, walking laps around campus and disappearing into the woods, and I still remember how the conversation just flowed. Sometimes it’s easier to tell a stranger everything about your life, and in a few days we knew more about each other than we’d told friends who’d known us for years.
I remember our final walk. It was the end of the semester, and she was moving back to Ireland. I couldn’t let her go without seeing her one last time, though I didn’t understand why. I messaged. She had to move her luggage to her friend’s room, but then she’d be free.
We walked even longer that night; we were going to miss each other’s company, though neither of us would say that out loud. It was freezing, pouring rain, and we were soaked head to foot, but we kept walking, because we knew it was the last time we’d ever see each other.
I walked her to the door of her block, where she stopped and smiled. An awkward moment passed. Did we hug? I don’t remember.
I do remember turning back to wave to her. It was an awkward wave, one-handed, my thumb hooked around the strap of my rucksack. She awkwardly waved back, turned, and disappeared inside.
And here I am, five years later, still wondering about it. We never saw each other again. The whole thing left me with a twisty feeling in my stomach, happy and sad all at once. And it feels like it could have been last week.