A/N: I've had this written for a little while. And I thought tonight would be as good a night as any if I was going to post it. I hope you enjoy it. I was trying to answer just a few of your remaining questions :) leave comments if you like!
To say that our memories define our lives would be an injustice, and an inaccuracy.
We are so much more than those memories, those experiences. We are worth more than the feelings we can reconjur. All of this, however, is not to say they aren't worth something.
As for me, I have experienced what seems to be the gamut of life's emotions.
Success. Fear. Loss. Love. Each feeling attached to different memories accordingly.
My little brother was born on a Thursday, and I was happy. I finally had a little brother. What six year old girl doesn't want to be a big sister?
I kissed a girl for the first time on a Friday night. I was seventeen and it was a dare. It was exhilarating and a little scary. Her lips were soft and she smelled like shampoo.
I kissed a girl for the first time on purpose on a Wednesday night. We were studying for a test in college. She kissed me back, and that might have been even scarier.
On a Monday, I got my acceptance letter to law school. I don't think I'd ever felt more proud. My mom had the biggest smile for me that night.
On a Saturday, my little brother died in a car accident. That accident claimed my parents for its own as well. They were on their way to see me graduate law school. That emotion was more than sadness. It was more than loss. It was impossible, unfathomable. It was learning you were alone in the world, and not one of the billions of people still left could comfort you. It was pain.
I thought happiness would evade me beyond that day. On some level, I don't think I even wanted to feel happy.
I don't know why I remember the important events of my life on the exact days they occurred. It just happens that way.
But all of those things, those memories (good and bad), they were all before her.
When she came, happiness came with her. It was slow, almost unnoticeable at first. But it inevitably came, and I began to add new memories. Ones that didn't hurt to remember.
Our first kiss was like forgetting how to breathe. It consumed me in a way I thought one could not be consumed. And every kiss thereafter was like forgetting all over again. Both craving air and dreading the moment you breathed again because her lips would be gone.
The first time I woke up in her arms was like tasting sunlight. It was warm and reached every nerve in my body. And she had no idea what she meant to me already.
There were so many firsts with her. I could recount hundreds, I'm sure. There were also so many surprises.
There was the time she came into my office with such a serious expression I actually grew worried. It wasn't often that she wasn't smiling, especially when she was looking at me.
"Ms. Lopez," she said quietly, as she fetched a single sheet of paper from her bag. I remember looking at her expectantly; she never called me that anymore, not even in the office.
"I'd like to give you my written two weeks' notice."
I distinctly remember my jaw dropping. She hadn't told me she was quitting.
She placed the sheet of paper on my desk and gave me that wink of hers I love so much. It at least let me know everything was okay.
"I'll explain when you come home."
Nodding absently, I watched her walk out of the office completely baffled.
When I got home, I'd barely had both feet in the door before she was wrapping me in her arms. She was kissing me, and I was remembering to breathe.
"I'm sorry I didn't tell you. But I wanted to surprise you with this."
She then handed me another single sheet of paper, this one written by a small culinary arts school in the city, accepting her into their program.
"Culinary arts?" I remember asking, looking back up at her with a confused smile.
"I… I've always enjoyed cooking. And you like my food so… I just thought…"
She was swiping her toes across the carpet in the cutest sheepish way I'd ever seen.
"I love your food. This is perfect for you."
She smiled at me. God I still loved her smile.
"So I obviously can't have a full-time job and go to school. And it gets harder and harder every day to keep it a secret."
I nodded. It was beyond difficult to be so close to her every day and have to hold it all in until after leaving.
And so we began the next chapter of our lives, and I was so proud of her for going after something she loved.
Life moved at that pace for a while, and both of us were happy with it. I'd go to work, she'd go to class. She asked about my cases and I asked about (and often tasted) what she was learning. We loved each other and we were happy.
About a year later came the next change, and another happy memory.
"Let's get a place together."
Brittany said the words like it was no different than announcing it was going to rain. She was looking across the table at me; her blue eyes betrayed nothing but sincerity. I loved that about her.
I was slightly taken aback but not displeased, and placed my wine glass back down on the table. The red wine inside was yet to be tasted.
I grinned at Brittany, mirroring the way her lips pulled up at the corners.
"I don't think you'll ever stop surprising me," I said quietly, tracing my finger around the base of the glass.
I looked around my condo. We spent most of our nights here anyway, together. If I was being perfectly honest with myself, we were almost practically living together anyway. A sweater of Brittany's lay across the back of the couch, her blanket in the reclining chair by the window. But still, the walls were white and bare. The books were all mine. The furniture. It wasn't our place.
"What makes you wanna live with me, anyway?" I asked playfully, and took another bite of the tilapia Brittany had made for us. It was delicious.
Brittany casually brushed some blonde hair out of her eyes before speaking. I wondered if she knew how cute that was.
"I couldn't possibly not want to live with you."
Even though it had been almost two years we had been together, there were still moments where my heart threatened to stop beating because of something Brittany would say. I hoped it'd always be that way.
"Besides, I practically already live with you. I just thought it'd be nice to have our own place. One without memories of loneliness. One where you never didn't want to come home."
I remember staring at her for a long time. She just got me.
"And we can pick wall colors together, and then change it a hundred times. And I can cook for you and not worry about making a mess. And we can hang pictures and maybe even get a place with a balcony. I know how much you like looking at the skyline now."
She was right. I did like looking at the skyline. All I could do was drink her in.
"Say something, Santana. You're making me nervous over here."
I chuckled. Nervous was one of those things I just didn't associate with Brittany Pierce.
"You had me at 'let's get a place together.'"
She laughed. And we finished dinner and began looking for a new place.
And now here I sit. It didn't take long to find an apartment we both liked. Big kitchen for her, big study for me, big bedroom for… well, you know.
The balcony is lovely. There's always a breeze this high up, and New York feels wonderful in summer. And I am nearly convinced this view was made for me to look at.
I can hear Brittany inside, whistling to herself as she unpacks some of her things.
And as I sit there, listening to my love and enjoying the view of the city, I realize one very important thing.
For those of us lucky enough to experience it, there will come a moment. And in that moment you realize that maybe you haven't quite gotten your life figured out. Maybe you don't have every next step planned. But maybe those things are okay, because you've got someone to take them with. Maybe that's the only part that matters. Life is one step at a time anyway, right?
It is a moment of complete and utter contentedness. And I hope beyond hope that one day you will experience it as well.
The French doors to the balcony open and I turn to see Brittany standing there framed by them. She always looks like a goddess and sometimes that's completely maddening. Either way, she's well worth being pulled from my reverie.
"There's only one box left, wanna unpack it for me?"
I stand and stretch. The breeze tickles my face and moves on, and then I walk inside.
On the table sits the last box. Our apartment looks wonderful. Brittany is such a better decorator than I am.
"I think it's just a few of your things," Brittany says from the balcony doors. She closes them gently and kisses my cheek as she passes me.
"I'll pour some wine while you sort it out if you like."
I nod and smile at her, reminding myself to compliment what she's done with the space when she comes back.
And then I open the box. Lined up neatly, spines up, are the last of my books. I remove them one by one and place them on the bookshelf until all but one remains.
I look down at the little brown book still sitting in the box and smile.
Like I said before, memories certainly do not define our lives. But they do contribute. Each memory leaves a mark.
I tuck the little book away on the bookshelf for safekeeping.
After all, it contains a set of memories I never want to let go.
thanks for reading!