4:30am thoughts are often a river in nature. They flow, one thought to the next, all interconnected and all heading to the same destination. Some nights, the river is turbulent and chaotic and threatens to drown all that swim in it. Other times the water is crystal clear and the river is calm, letting you simply float down it.
I drift down the river of my 4:30am thoughts tonight and I don’t know where they’re taking me. Somewhere, to be sure, and I think that I knew the destination once upon a time. But the river had more bends than I realised, had one too many waterfalls I didn’t know about, and now I realise I don’t know where the river is going at all. I’m going down it either way, and tonight the journey is pleasant, but I can’t tell you any more that I know where I will end up. All I can tell you is that the thoughts that linger here tonight are pensive, as gentle as the river in which they live; idle thoughts wrapped around memories and made clear with the wisdom of hindsight.
I have always been fond of you, from the moment I met you.
You were incredibly dumb. Not in the stupid way, because you are not stupid, but in the charming way. The dumb of a brand new teenager learning to navigate the wide world of the internet. The dumb of a person too young to understand the world and too young to process emotions. The dumb that we probably all were, once. You were dumb, but in a charming way. You were dumb, but you were kind.
Not that you couldn’t be nasty. We were children and all children are nasty, by their very nature. They are nasty, though not malicious, and so it was you could be nasty and so could I, and we would mock others privately. But in the grander scheme of things you were not like other people I had met, outside of a spare few. You were kind and the circumstances of the world had not made you bitter, because we were all young and we were all dumb. It was endearing.
It would be the nastiness of children, together with the confusion of the constantly shifting goalposts in the society we lived in, that would separate us. And I can’t say what it would be that brought us back together, outside of perhaps that charming dumbness of yours or perhaps my own reckless abandon, or maybe a mix of both.
In terms of romance, I think I have loved twice before. The first I labelled wrongly; I thought it was friendship and treated it as such, yet it hurt more than any friendship had ever hurt me and in the end I realised my mistake. It would not matter what I had labelled that love in the end, because it was not and never going to be and in hindsight, the better for both of us. Her wit was as sharp as claws on a cat, and she proved just as aloof. I would have moved mountains for her, but that was not what she needed and beyond that, she was certainly not what I needed either.
The second I should have been more careful with, in more ways than one. I should have cared more about myself than I did, more than anything. I did not value myself nearly enough, too busy being afraid of being bitten a second time. Maybe if I had done that, I would have seen all the little red flags of warning, the tiny behaviours that I was quick to forgive and forget no matter how often they happened. Of course, I’m sure she’d say the same about me – among maybe a great many other things. Who knows? She danced like the sun and I don’t think I’ll ever forget how much I loved her, how I had been prepared to abandon all previous foundations to try and exist together in the same galaxy she did. It was a longer love, the second love, and it burned far brighter than the first could have dreamed of and I would have gone just as far. But a person is not a simple sun, and they burn hot and cold both, and I should have been more careful and more serious the first time that she seemed to doubt the fact I loved her. It was a doubt she never let go of, in the end, and I’ll never likely know the cause of that. Maybe I didn’t tell her enough, how much she meant to me. Maybe her demons cast me in shadow and she became as paranoid of me as she was of them. Either way, she burns elsewhere now, and hopefully she’ll find another person – another sun – to orbit around in an elegant dance of fire and light. Or perhaps she will elect to stop dancing altogether, and that would be a sad day, but if it makes her happy then who are we to question it?
And now I am at the third love, now I’m at you.
You are no less kind now than you were back then and, if anything, you are kinder. You aren’t dumb any more, because you’ve grown up and the years have taken their toll, and so you are instead goofy by choice. If it was endearing before, and it was, now it is all the more so. The world might have made many things out of you, but it hasn’t made you hard, and I envy that about you, just a little. You can still be nasty – we can both be nasty – but you are conscious of others and you take great efforts to be nasty in private moments and obscure areas so as not to hurt people. You are quieter now than you used to be; your humour is still dry but you have learnt moderation, or at least I think so. You take less space, in a metaphorical sense, you seem more grounded in realism.
I find you quite an inspiring person. You’ve said the same about me and I think you’re a fool for it, but then, maybe I don’t see what you do. What I do know is that loving you feels a lot like drifting down this river of 4:30am thoughts; it’s easy to do. It’s calming. I’m content. I’m not afraid of drowning. I don’t know where it’s going to go, and by god I hope it goes somewhere good, but I see no reason to not follow this river to the destination it’s heading towards.
I don’t know why I’m writing this. I just couldn’t sleep and I was thinking a lot, about many things. About you. About me. About history. About memories. About people I miss, and the things they did that I don’t miss. About everything. About nothing.
I love you.