I'm back in Arizona. It feels good. I'm happy to be back with my friends and my puppy. I'm happy to be living in my house and eagerly awaiting the return of my roommates. I feel at home, which is somewhere I haven't been for a long time.
Fireworks make me miss you. I used to cry when I saw them, because I worried for you. I used to cry much more than I do now. I almost couldn't bear to wake up on patriotic holidays, because every country song brought tears to my eyes. I couldn't wait for you to get home. I couldn't wait to tell you about all the times I had seen fireworks without you and how you were the only person with whom I could have truly enjoyed them.
I missed you at every fireworks show, every sporting event, every holiday party, every family gathering, every wedding. I feasted on lies of how you would be there someday, and all the waiting would have been worth the wasted years of missing you.
I wasn't here for 4th of July last year. I was in Namibia and I didn't see any fireworks. I'm sure I must have thought of you, if only for a quick second. I'm sure I must have said a prayer for your safety. But without the fireworks, it was easier not to miss you. It was easier to admit that you were gone, that you weren't mine anymore; it was easier to accept that you weren't coming back.
I saw fireworks tonight and I missed you for a short while. I was on the roof with my friends. You know them. Hot monsoon winds whipped my hair into my face, and I held down the hem of my skirt with my fist. I still miss you, but it's different now. The sentiment is less tinged with fear and more with nostalgia. I once carried a dull, heavy ache for you. The wounds you left have faded into pinkish scars.
I finally feel like I'm living in Arizona on my own terms. This city has lost the scent of your clothes and the tempo of your step. I no longer hear echoes of your accent in the places we once shared our lives.
I'm hoping to smile at the fireworks I'll see on New Year's Eve. I'm hoping that your phantom smile will have left me in six months' time.