Whenever I see a sapphire Honda Civic, or a gunmetal gray Honda Accord, I will think of you. I will think of driving with you through Northeastern Pennsylvania on curvy roads, under a canopy of trees, my stomach fluttering with excitement. Whenever I pass an omnipresent Wal Mart, I will think of you. I will think of how crazy I was over you, how the intangibility of us kept that craziness around for a long, long time. Too long. I will think of how Wal Mart was the first place we ever went together, and how it may also prove to be the last. Whenever someone speaks of France, I will think of you. I will think of getting that letter from you when you were there for that year, the Air Mail postage adhered to the outside of your thick envelope, of reading that letter over and over again, searching for a clue that you missed me. I will think of the call, at Christmastime, when you called me from the Alps, where you were skiing with your brother. When I knew I was about to be engaged, but didn’t want to tell you. We talked for a few moments over trans-Atlantic phone lines, the two of us so far away from one another, but somehow still connected. I will think of the last few minutes of that call, thinking that there was something left unsaid. I will think that there was always something left unsaid. Whenever I see LaBatt’s Blue, I will think of you. I will think of you, caressing that bottle across from me, at various tables at various times. The taste of it in your kiss. The way it opened you up, let you talk about our history, our mysterious bond, openly and without reservation. Or maybe that wasn’t the LaBatt’s. I will think of you every time I pass the Dimmick Inn & Steakhouse. I will think of you every time I drive through the Woodlands. I will even think of you when I hear Marilyn Manson. I will think of you when I pass the turns for the Lackawanna House and the Boat House, our restaurants of choice, tucked deep in the woods and away from the prying eyes of the people we knew in Milford. I will think of driving to each one, smoking too many cigarettes with my dry, nervous mouth, not even able to sing along with the radio. Too anxious. I will think of seeing you for the first time again, once a year, for six years, and never losing whatever it was that drew me to you. I will think of you saying you could never say goodbye to me. But you did.
Whenever I see a Subaru, I will think of you. I will think of the stories you told me and your friends about “The Tick,” the horrific, yellowed Subaru you relied onto get you to and from high school. Whenever I hear “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child, I will think of you. I will think of driving down Routes 6 & 209 with you in my Mazda Navajo, singing along to that ridiculous song, where I was Beyonce and you were Michelle. And I will think of remembering that moment, months later after we broke up. Having it break my heart, because you were the one man who would be silly enough to sing with me. Recalling that moment, I questioned our decision. Whenever I see Copenhagen, I will think of you. I will think of how disgusting it was, how much I loathed the lump in your lip and the bottle you carried as a makeshift spittoon. But I will think of how funny it was when the hunk of tobacco would separate in your mouth, invading the small gaps in your teeth, and how I laughed. I will think of you packing the can, the thump of your forefinger on the lid. Your smile. Whenever I smell Eddie Bauer’s Adventure, I will think of you. I will think of your hairy chest, fresh from the shower, smelling of soap and that cologne. I will think of your little black Dop Case, or whatever you called it, stuffed full of your products. None of which you used. I will think of your shirts, your Army uniforms and your civilian clothes, that smelled like Adventure for weeks after they were worn. You left a mark, a trail, of where you’d been that smelled sweet and masculine at the same time. Whenever I am in the Galleria at Crystal Run, that horrible shopping mall in Middletown, I will think of you. I will remember stealing moments together there, that sliver of time between your last class and your curfew that was all mine. I will think of watching out for the close-cropped haircuts of other military men, hoping to avoid them to avoid your being caught blowing post. I will remember that movie theater, those halls, as our own. Whenever I think of, see, or hear about West Point, I will think of you. I will think of meeting you in that tiny coffee shop, in your gray Ass for Class, cradling a latte, that you didn’t even want, in one hand and your cap in the other. The smell of sweet coffee will forever remind me of you. I will think of the white benches in front of that shop, where you’d wait for me to finish with customers. I will think of Thayer Hall, of walking through West Point’s history with you, your uniform crisp, your hair freshly cut, hold hands even though Public Displays of Affection weren’t allowed. I will think of the angle of your jaw, your stubborn five o’clock shadow, your ink-stained fingers. I will think of Flirty Walk, how we would park right next to the entrance every night to spend our last moments of the day together. I will think of the trees, the Hudson River lapping at West Point's banks, the nose of my car pointed toward the opposite shore. We kept one eye on the night sky, and one eye on the clock – We didn’t want you to be late. I will recall the buildings and their countless ghost stories, unsure of which ones were sincere, and which were passed down from class to class as folklore. But I will know for certain that those buildings are haunted with memories of us. I will remember when they were repaving the sidewalks by the library, and how we etched "David + Laurie, 2001” in the wet, blue-gray concrete. We wanted to come back and see it in 10, 20, 30 years. The next day, it had been smoothed over. I will think of our first date at the baseball field. I will think of the cannons, of five o’clock Taps, of the PX, of the Commissary, of Dong Fong Chinese, of Central Area. I will think of watching you collect your diploma, of watching your mother pin you as a Second Lieutenant. I will think of you telling me that you’d love me forever. And know that you meant it.
Whenever I see a forest green Pontiac Bonneville, I will think of you. I will think of our first date, sitting on Milford Beach, and looking out over the water. I will recall the desire to be kissed by you, and the knowledge that you were withholding that from me. I will see later that it was foreshadowing. Whenever I see signs for Branchville, New Jersey, I will think of you. I will think of visiting your mother, your grandmother, and wishing that I was an in-law; wishing I could be introduced as more than a girlfriend. Whenever I think of Boston, I will think of you. I will think of the aquarium, of the penguins. I will think of shopping in Macy’s, because neither of us packed properly for the cold weather, and how I found the perfect black pea coat. I will think of George Peabody – the stuffed animal baby penguin we’d purchased at the aquarium, who we named after the expressway – and how he sat in my cup holder for months, and then I gave him to you to you…and how he was lost that same year. I will think of Salem, of taking the ghost tour, of wanting desperately to be scared and how let down we were. “Some say this building is haunted…but some say it’s not,” the tour guide said, and we laughed the whole way through, cuddling together to avoid the chilly air. I will remember stopping into a brewery when the tour was over, buying pumpkin beer and sitting among the locals, our noses and cheeks numb from the cold, laughing already at the memory of the tour. Whenever I hear Dire Straits, I will think of you. I will remember teasing you for loving the music from the eighties, even though – secretly – I love it, too. I will think of how much you love Mark Knofler, and how I always called him Ralph Nader or Dolf Lundgren just to get under your skin. I will think of Flock of Seagulls and the Human League, and how those groups were a picture of your life in what you considered to be your best times. Whenever I put hoop earrings in my ears, I will think of you. I will think of how I never even wore earrings until you came around. But when I found out how much you loved them, I started to wear them every day. For you. I will wonder if you ever noticed. I will note that I still wear earrings every day; that I feel naked without them. Whenever I think of a vacation to Las Vegas, I will think of you. I will think of our annual weeklong trips there, of our rented convertible speeding along Pecos, going from the Strip to Green Valley. I will think of looking at houses, and seriously considering how I would tell my parents I was going to move with you to Vegas. I will think of how I should’ve known that I needn’t have bothered with the worrying. I will think of how badly I wanted to move there with you, how desperately I wanted you all to myself, in a city where neither of us knew any one. I will think of how sure I was that we could have made it if we had been there. I will also think of how I loved to travel with you. How I always felt safe with you, how I knew that you would never get me lost, how you always made us blend in; you never did look like a tourist anywhere. Whenever I see a Siberian Husky, I will think of you. I will think of sitting on a park bench in Milford’s park, coming up with the name that we would bestow upon our Husky. Puck, we could call him. Like a hockey puck. And I will think of how we thought the Welsh Corgi I wanted – whose name would be Ernie – would be so cute with Puck. How they would be brothers. They would be our trial children. I will think of how we talked about Puck & Ernie for years, how cute they would be, their little paws moving them through our house. And then I will think of how I found the perfect Husky and drove an hour to your house to pick you up to drive you the hour back for you to meet him. I will think of how you fell in love with him just as quickly as I did, and how you bought him right there. I will think of how I saw that to be the sign that our future together was sealed. “You’re his mom,” you said, putting your credit card down to buy him. And I believed you. I will think of how, later, I would be jealous of that same dog, because you were willing to commit to him, but not to me. I will think of how it hurt to know that you were willing to devote time and sacrifice to a four-legged creature, but not to me. I will think of you every time I sit in the car that you helped me buy, I will think of you every time that I listen to the satellite radio that you gave me for Christmas, I will think of you every time I wear the stilettos that you were so fond of. I will remember you telling me you loved me, and I will know that, in your own way, you really did.
Whenever I drink wine, I will become nostalgic. I will think of the three of you, remembering the hurt and the sadness, but knowing that I wouldn’t trade a second of it for the joy I felt when I was with you. I will think of how my time spent with each of you has shaped me into the woman I am today, and how grateful I am for that. I will think of the laughter, the unconditional love, the utter desire, and know that I’ve experienced more in the matter of a few years than many experience in a lifetime. And I will always be thankful for that.