by Marelle Hipolito ’21
“Respect the wood,” you joked. “I always hated the little rings the cups made, it ruins the wood.” We were buying souvenirs, and we came upon a whole wall of coasters. There were different kinds: cork with quotes on them, cloth with hearts hand-sown in, and ceramic with little chickens painted on them. You opted for the ceramic squares, and I got the cork circles. We bought them, and then went on our way through the village, back to the bus that would bring us back to the hotel.
When you use those coasters now, does it bring you back to that month? All those deep talks in the middle of the night, and all those crazy last minute decisions and adventures we decided to take? Because when I use my coasters, from then until now, that’s all that I can think of.
All our friends that you also ghosted have been telling me the same thing, from then until now. “Forget him,” they all say. “Forget he exists, forget that he was ever part of that trip. Separate and drop him from all the memories of that trip.” Each time they say that, I just sigh and shake my head slowly. They’re never going to understand who you are to me. They’re never going to get that in fact, you were the trip I took, that you were the adventure that I went on, and that you are the memories of it all. So when I bring out the cork circles for their drinks when they come over, and they sigh, I just look to the small picture frame, hiding on the end of the bookshelf. It’s the first photograph I took on that trip, and the best. Your back was to me, and you were looking at the sun. Although your figure was a distinct outline against the sun, it was bright enough to be a part of the sunlight. I take in the memory of the time I took that picture, and look at the wooden frame surrounding it. “Respect the wood,” I say.