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I know I’ve lived. - Cristina Crucianu

Time flies and you’ve probably heard that a thousand times from your elders. You can’t really grasp the velocity of time until it has already passed you by. Life itself works in the very same way. An undeniable truth that gives weight to the Latin aphorism “Carpe Diem”, which is an invitation to seize the day or the present moment. While I don’t want to be a contrarian of Horace’s famous expression, I must say that only over time, can we dissect the meaning of our experiences to understand the impact they have upon us. Akin to the most traumatic event of our life coming splashing back into our already messy existence and adding new nuances to it. We may fail to make sense of it in that specific moment, and we need to trust time to bring it meaning.

 

One of these moments happened to me just the other day when after almost four years, I had the chance to see a man who I’d fallen crazily in love with. It was four years after us. It had been four years since I had moved from the city, from a life that hurt too much. I ran away because of him. I ran away because I lost my mother to cancer. It hurt so lousy feeling so empty, and not having him to fill that void, or at least that’s what I thought back then.

 

After meeting him the other day, everything came flooding back to me. All the good, and all the bad. In a fearful intent to bury how much not having him hurt, I realized that along the way, I’d also buried one of the best love stories that have ever happened to me. As Brené Brown puts it: “When we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive ones”

 

This is exactly what I had been doing during these last four years. With scalpel-like precision, I removed all of the things that hurt. I removed my mother’s death, always just under the surface. I killed the love I felt for him just to allow myself to move on. Or what I thought it meant to move on. I scooped out that period of my life, thoughtlessly throwing it into the trash can. Inducing amnesia. .  During the period I was able to feel love, and love so deeply that it hurt. A gap in my life, unaware of the person I used to be. A person who once loved too much, who once dreamed of rainbows and happy endings. , Meeting him again from a less emotionally-attached perspective, helped me to further grasp that moment in my life, where everything hurt so deeply that I could barely breathe. Meeting him again after these years,  took me back to the person that allowed herself to be. Only after this time had passed, did I come to realize what he had meant to me. What our story had meant to me. I was ready to write him a letter.

 

Hi mister,

How are you? I just wanted to share this with you to let you know how much you made me feel.

Only now, can I understand how what happened to us was blissfully painful. . It really, deeply hurt — and I only came to realize that now — because I decided to literally erase you from my heart and mind just like Clementine does with Joel in the Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind. I forgot that I used to miss you so much that I longed to accidentally run into you. It hurt because I gave up on thinking of you by building a fortress with a crocodile-strewn moat around my heart that nobody was able to cross ever again. It hurt because I wanted to forget that you didn’t fight for me, and I buried all those feelings in the labyrinthic depths of my heart. I don’t know how I made it, but I buried all those feelings thinking that I was giving myself a chance to be loved again. To be loved as I deserved.


You don’t know how many times I’ve dreamed of us being together, and consummating it. And finally, that dream was about to come true that same weekend before leaving for London for the next few months. A few days before, we got carried away by infatuation, drinks, and long kisses under the dim lights of that quirky cocktail bar. Which allowed us to secretly surf the waves of an incipient, blooming love, and sealed the night with the decision of spending together, what would be the only and the last night we’d have together. It was right then when we opened a hotel website to fuel our fantasies of finally indulging our desires under the same bedsheets. We could have consummated our passion that same night carelessly, and fortuitously in your car but I wanted to wait to make it right, have you in the way that I wanted and for the entire night. I wanted to make it last. I wanted to have you. It was then between nuzzles, and wet stampede-like desire, that we clicked on the “book” button. We got drunk with the possibilities. I got drunk within a love story that would never happen.

 

It was that same night when your perfume was still lingering on my face and I still could feel the flames of desire burning through my veins when you wrote to me at 2 am letting me know that we couldn’t have our night. You couldn’t. It was as if a knife was slowly being pushed and twisted through an already open wound. The pain was so much that I couldn’t even breathe. With my wounds bleeding I replied that I understood despite the bullet holes in the fortress of my heart. It was through these same cracks, that hope crept in, and I imagined another ending. I wanted to trick your mind and make you cross your boundaries, as I had done so many times with texts filled with passion. I wanted to power test all the whispers and promises in my ear while making shaking with desire. I wanted to make you change your mind by playing a  power game and go back to that dreamy state when love and alcohol-fed decision-making took us to the seventh heaven. I wanted to take what you said you felt for me to an open battlefield and see your bravery in a duel with yourself and your mind. That’s why I decided to go to the hotel on my own. To see if you’d wish to join me anyway.

 

I had a plan in mind that was meant to have you running to me. I would go on my letting you know where I was and wishing for a different type of ending than the one you wrote to our story. I packed for a romantic weekend wishing for a turnaround in the story of our lives. I left my ill mother at home telling her that I had an urgent matter despite it being my last weekend in the city. I drove two hours along a winding snowy road to check in to that cozy mountain hotel just to dream of you entering through the door in the middle of the night. I had a bath in the room's tub we had specifically chosen together hoping we could revel in each other within it. I had my phone next to me wishing for a message where you said you would come my way.


Obviously, it didn’t happen and during the following months, I intentionally buried that memory in the depths of my heart because it reminded me of how vulnerable I’d felt that night. I threw that beautiful life experience into the depths of my subconsciousness hoping to never find it again.


It was the other day when I saw you, forgetful of the fact that such a thing had happened to us. You reminded me of how our story had ended. So abruptly, so painfully. It was then that you made me remember who I am.


I am the one who fights for what she wants.

I am the one who dreams big.

I am the one who uses “No’s” to catapult herself.

I am the one who keeps going despite the wounds.

I am the one who lives and does not get paralyzed by fear.

I am the one who hopes.

I am the one who seized the moment then and continue to four years after.

I am the one who bites into the ice cream of life.


Thank you for reminding me who I am. Thank you for reminding me that I’ve lived such a beautiful love story to build my self-love story. Thank you for showing me that feeling vulnerable is alright.


Thank you for being part of this roller coaster we call life and for the lessons you helped me to learn! Thank you for showing me that seizing moments is not only something to do right now but also later.


Thank you for reminding me of all of these parts of me. To take inspiration from one of my favorite songs I’ve lived, and I’ve loved, and I’ve given it all. I just wish you the following for the next time you fall in love *:

 

“Hope that you fall in love

And it hurts so bad

The only way you can know

You give it all you have

And I hope that you don’t suffer

But take the pain

Hope when the moment comes you’ll say

I, I did it all

I, I did it all

I owned every second that this world could give

I saw so many places

The things that I did

Yeah, with every broken bone

I swear I lived”

*”I’ve lived” Song by One Republic

 

Cristina Crucianu is originally from Romania, but she grew up in Spain between orange, and peach trees. After having her soul crunched in her corporate job, she’s finally taken a sabbatical to write her memoir on her family’s immigration. She loves to squeeze life through her daily journaling, and Substack Newsletter.

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