To All The Boys I Loved Before

i dabble in the art of illusions

pretending nothing penetrates my veil of apathy

that the people i once loved are just that: once loved, once ago

but the act of getting over someone is never-ending

a constant and painful forgetting

murdering the memory of something once held so dear

but now it means nothing at all

every boy i ever loved

has his own physical space in my head

their own colors and smells

always alive in an in-between state in my mind

after the beginning but before the end

this is how i cherish them:

i.

the first boy’s color is orange and he smells like cheap cologne

there is not much else to say about him

except that young love feels so much more real when you are in it

but when it fades you are left with nothing save for

a trickle of embarrassment

and a firm decision never to repeat the same mistake

so thank you for teaching me to respect myself above everything

but fuck you for planting the first seed of wariness in my still genuine heart

and fuck you for everything that happened next

ii.

the second boy is red, vibrant and frantic, and he smelled of delicate ivory soap

everything with him was whirlwind passion

i was always crying—from happiness or frustration

when it became impossible to differentiate between the two i knew something was wrong

yet i stayed for the rapture

thinking “this is what it’s like to be young and in love”

when really it was just being young and lost

and one day i woke up and the ardor had trickled to a vague interest

the fire that once crackled now coughed

and then fizzled into lethargy without any warnings

i struggled to explain to him that it wasn’t him, it was me

and merely watched from the stands as he came completely undone

and that’s when I realized that pain was alright

as long as it wasn’t happening to me

iii.

the third boy is golden-brown, tender and inviting and he smelled of ocean shampoo and coffee

everything about him was sun-kissed: his hair, his soft skin, the warm embrace of his arms

i had grown accustomed to boys with calloused hands, hardened edges, and dark corners, as empty and cold as basements

yet he was open and bursting with light, as comfortable and intimate as a bedroom

until the dark in me had overcame his light

and his warmth dissolved into my cold: cold touches, loveless glances, spiteful words

until, at last, i snuffed out the last tendrils of his glow with my transgressions

let him cradle me in our bed while I burrowed into his chest and devoured his heart

i have regretted it ever since

we weren’t compatible in most levels beyond physical

but he never deserved what i did to him and i’ll always be remorseful

maybe one day things will be different but I fear his heart has hardened and it is far too late

these three boys taught me that broken people break people

and forced me to end that chain

before it was too late for me

By Andria Padilla for Odyssey