I was in Joshua Tree on a chilly Saturday night, listening to the gentle strums of a guitar and crickets serenade the full moon. With the smell of campfire clinging to my hair, I left the vigorous fire and entered the warmth of the desert home we were staying at. My curiosity led me to snooping through an Xbox game collection the Airbnb host owned.
And then I saw it--Call of Duty.
Instead of dismissing it and flipping to the next game, I froze and allowed my mind to throw me on a reluctant time travel trip. The laughs of my friends drowned in the white noise of my memory.
Some of you know this, some of you have no idea. About a year ago, I experienced my first heartbreak.
I never knew what love really was back in high school or college, which is typically the time when our hearts and brains become plagued with the disease and make irrational zombies of the most rational beings.
To be honest, I assumed I never really would fall in love, or anyone would love me. I couldn't flirt and had the worst self-esteem...and it just seemed so foreign to the point where it was unattainable.
And yet, fast-forward through a few months of listening to friends' relationships, breakups, engagements...Cupid's arrow had finally found another target.
We met while doing something I loved--hiking. All it took was one powerful moment of eye-contact, and I suddenly found myself sinking in the quick sand of another's gravity. Soon enough, the time after work I used to spend alone watching Netflix was now donated to hanging out with him.
I was addicted. Every moment spent alone felt like a horrible ache I couldn't heal. Every moment I could get talking to him was a euphoric high. I usually lost all rationale gazing at his eyes, and each conversation/trip was magic. We could do anything, from playing Call of Duty to escaping work early to take refuge in the wilderness, and it would be the most exciting adventure. For some reason, he thought I was special and I allowed myself to be whisked away in the entanglement of desire.
Love had finally poisoned me.
The details are messy, but let's just say that the more I began to understand how much I was in love, the more I realized the extent of the inevitable pain that was about to erupt. We both were aware of the impending demise, but the frenzy of love had erased any moral judgement.
When finally the illicit tie between us had finally snapped under the weight of guilt, everything broke around me in slow motion.
I would fall asleep hiding my tears into a pillow and would wake up with a deep deep pain in my chest. Tears would gush down my face during work, my voice diminished into a whisper, and my chest still carried that same heavy pain. Nights were spent searching for the moon, as we used to do together, but only finding a dark sky tinged with smog.
Time froze during my time spent mourning a love that I didn't want to die. But one day I woke up and the clock started ticking again. Time moved forward.
And so did I.