I hope you never forget who you were that summer. 

1. It’s a hot one, even for the South—the kind of summer where we are sticky with sunscreen and smelling like a flurry of coconuts and careless adolescence. I tell you I’m not jumping off the cliff unless you’re at the bottom waiting for me. You don’t hesitate—you never do. Escaping the heat, I watch you dive into the lake, shattering the stillness it held. You did the same to me this summer. The first time I hit the water it brought me relief. In, out, and back in again. Off the cliff and into the lake, a routine we grew comfortable with. It was always like that. I’d plunge into the deep end for you. But I drew my last breath, August came and wrapped its fingers around July’s throat, and I don’t think I’ve exhaled since.

I learned about flashbulb memory in my senior year psychology class and I think that’s the only way I can remember us now. Brief flashes of red-hot memory that bring me back to who we were then. Maybe that’s all we were supposed to be—brief but impossible to forget. 

2. I’m crying again, and you tell me we’re just kids and it isn’t that serious. “You take yourself too seriously”, you say, “we’re too young for any of it to matter.” Sometimes I think about this, and I’m angry. Other times I wonder if you were right. Maybe if my mouth wasn’t full of blood from biting my own tongue; if I had tried to explain why I took myself so seriously, we could have made it work. What if your hands had been strong enough to pull me out of myself? I run it through my head constantly, adding up the “maybes” and “what-ifs” hoping they result in a new answer. I can’t seem to figure it out, but I was never very good at math anyway.

I hate nostalgia. It’s a liar for telling me about how good things were back then. Conveniently leaving out every tear-stained argument and every moment we let each other down. Nostalgia ignores every red flag we used to curl beneath, claiming that at least they kept us warm for a moment. They were real too. Forcing it down, the lump in my throat feels like a metaphor for every feeling I’ve ever swallowed. 

3. I’m hurling every glass object in my room against the hardwood floor, polluting your heart with the implications of my own rage. Too much noise, too much silence, too much of it being too much. Melodramatic and unreliable, exaggerations of minor inconveniences. I can’t seem to stop searching for any reason to push you farther away from me, trying to find the words for being ungrateful enough to turn something good down. 

We’re never in the same place for very long, always loving each other at the wrong times like a bruise we can’t seem to stop pressing. 

4. The alarm clock won’t stop ringing. Immediately after rolling out of bed, you hit shuffle on a playlist to prod me to get up. “I love this song,” you say. I’ve heard it a million times and by this point I can predict what’s coming next. You cough it up immediately, unprompted—a thorough analysis and comprehensive explanation of every possible detail of the song. Carefully curated music for every moment, I’ve never known you to sit in silence. You talk for hours and I hold onto every word. I’m not sure what it means that I can’t recall the song now, but I think what matters is that I remember how it made me feel as I walked away from it, down the stairs, and into the kitchen where I sat as you made breakfast.

I hope you never forget who you were that summer. 

September came and loosened August’s grip, and while we may have outgrown each other, I hope you know that despite every attempt to remind myself to forget, I can’t. Despite every fistful of cruel curses we threw at each other, I still find myself clinging to a feeling that you won’t be just another one that got away. Maybe you’ll be the one who finally teaches me how to stay. Or, maybe not. Maybe we won’t find each other in every life, but I hope you know that the life I got to love you in was the one that meant the most. 

5. In the lifetime where the alarm clock never went off, I left the front porch lights on. Come home soon.

Sofia Hincapie-Rodrigo ’24 is a staff writer

Zoe Strothkamp ’24 is a staff artist