There are crumbs on my couch. Speckled flecks from a leftover dinner. There are crumbs on my floors. I stepped on a Cheerio. The force of my foot caused a whole piece to turn into dusty crumbs. When I walked by those tan particles, the wind from my movement caused those Cheerio crumbs to scatter.
A life lived in crumbs.
A thousand memories, shards of my life, are gathered in my mind. The teenage girl, an unknowing ignorant youth grasped at trinkets.
Do you think I’m pretty?
Do you love me?
Will you date me?
The boy told me about his triumphs on the football fields and fast times on a motorcycle. Said he loved me. Promised me a forever. Waited for me at lunchtime and took me out to eat. Nights would come and we would drive in his red car over hills and back roads. Talking about the crumbs of a life we thought we had lived. We didn’t know we were too young to have lived a life yet.
And his kisses.
Every dark spot we could find, we sat in his red car and kissed until our faces grew concerned about a curfew. Drive fast. Get me back home on time. When I returned, I never washed those kisses off my face. In some ways, I’ve never scrubbed those kisses away. They were my first love.
They were the first crumbs of heartbreak, sweating passion, and real true love. I loved that Gemini boy heart and soul. We clung to each other even after we said our parting words. The crumbs of my first failed relationship. Yes, I dated before him but I never loved until him.
There are few break-ups I recall. Mainly, endings will come with bitter words and screaming obscenities. This didn’t happen with him. We loved each other too much to rain down those thunderstorms and cast lightning bolts. We wouldn’t sear and brand each other with permanent pain.
I do remember the crumbs to our end. We sat together on an ugly couch in my parents’ family room. The television on, MTV playing a music video. Back when MTV meant music, and they left their reality for the Real World and Road Rules.
No Doubt’s Don’t Speak played in the background. I knew then in my heart we’d never date again. We wouldn’t get back together. We were done. I didn’t want to speak the words and neither did he, but we had to. We had to take a glass relationship and smash it onto the ground because we weren’t destined to be forever. I thought my heart would lay forever shattered on the beige carpet in the family room.
He did tell me about being beautiful. Told me how one day when my parents were out of town, he walked into my bedroom and my teenage body draped over a bed in a sheer unguarded exhibition. He said that I was my most beautiful then. The image in his head and seeing my untouched, barely aged form would be the moment he wanted to keep forever saved as my perfection. Said I was my most beautiful in that nothingness moment.
White. Pure. A whole crumb of innocence.
He cried because he loved me. And we fought. We fought with teenage rebellion. The Offspring’s Self Esteem blared from speakers installed in a trunk, and those words were our soundtrack. He kissed other girls and I flirted with other boys. He fought to protect me from men who didn’t love me and had self-righteous intentions harbored in their heads. He knew the looks in their eyes and what they meant. I hated him then for his protection. Because my age didn’t know then what it knows now. Thank you for protecting me, boy. Thank you for loving me. Perhaps I never told the boy the words I should have spoken. My anger and broken heart told me: don’t speak.
Crumbs litter my house. My body is a salvage wreck of pieces. My heart is a glued together tumbleweed rolling through life. One day, all these crumbs will add up and form a whole life. Each morsel squeezed and placed next to another scrap memory.
Life is people leaving their little crumbs here and there. We decide which crumbs we want to pick up and keep. The crumbs we will forever savor. The ones that ultimately show us we’ve lived a whole life.