To rainy nights and you


Natalie Mix

Not a rainy night, but another beautiful sky—taken from a car window

Once upon a time, I would’ve driven home on a night like this, sick on the sugar-sweet fumes of the hours I’d spent simply trying to fill in the empty spaces. Headlights reflecting off the rainy streets, my vision would’ve been further obscured by an onslaught of tears, streaking the red, yellow, and green of the stoplights. 

I would’ve stumbled into the unforgiving light of my kitchen—searching, searching, searching for a shred of forgiveness—and then, hours later, I may have pulled myself together just long enough to write about how broken I was. Or perhaps I would’ve written nothing at all. 

But tonight, when the thunder started, I felt nothing but peace. I was thinking about puzzles, trying to write about puzzles, and the TV was playing fairytales. The sky lit up and turned the world purple, and you told me I should write about thunderstorms.

The whole way home, I could only think about the person I’m becoming—someone who has answers where she used to have questions, someone who wants to tell people’s stories, someone who picks songs because the way they sound makes her happy, someone who owns far too many thrifted clothes, someone who plucked The Bell Jar from Mrs. Penninga’s shelf and is enjoying it, someone who wants another hand in hers. 

I was gasping at the tears streaming down my cheeks before I could register what was happening, laughing and unsure but so, so, so happy. 

Now the rain is rolling down in sheets outside my window, Oh Wonder’s newest album, 22 Break, playing beside me, and these words wouldn’t be on the page now if it weren’t for you. 

When I think of the stars, I think of how we’ll stay behind forever, bright lights amongst the others, a slightly different hue to be remembered by. 

You were bubbles and effervescence when I first met you, and now you are rainy nights and long car rides. You are every little memory we have collected together, the songs on my playlists, the photos in my camera roll, the books on my shelf. 

The walls themselves will remind me of you when you’re no longer a phone call away. 

I’m trying to forget, but I can’t deny that soon, the little phrases we hold dearest will no longer bear any significance. Those stars will be all that’s left, and I will miss you with every other breath.

In the meantime, we’re like birds darting about the radius of our home, the home you shared with me, the home I can’t thank you enough for. Little birdhouses lined the windowsill, and each one welcomed me as if it was always meant to be like this. The song the birds sing suggests that perhaps it was.

I am one of those birds, dipping between the great, big branches of an oak tree, and I am simultaneously laying beneath, watching the scene unfold with fond amusement. Wherever I am, I can likely find you beside me, and you will always know what to say. I will never tire of your company, the stupid little specifics that remind me of you, the jokes that are funny to no one but us. Someday we’ll have to let go of these precious moments, but for now, I am content to be the birds between the trees.