If You Were Here (Part II)

Cotton candy sunsets in Langkawi, Malaysia - Asia Travel

The sun brought out the subtle green hues in the waves today.

I walked to the sea and floated in the warm reflections. They reminded me of the color of your deep set eyes, the specks of marine blues and greens and how they always had a crinkle, like the lip of a curling wave.

Do you remember that night? The tiny red plastic chairs, the uncontrollable laughter, a serene cloudless sky with the smell of sizzling fried chicken at our side.

It was electric.

The moon lit up our faces as we clinked over another cheap beer, santé! Our friends left early, but we stayed until they started closing, not wanting to break our easy conversation that was just between us.

You grabbed my arm as I started back to the hostel, facing me toward you, touching my lower back as you brought me near. Your breath on mine, a look of longing in your eyes.

I could’ve pulled away, laughed it off, but you intrigued me with the meaningful look on your face. Kissing me softly, you told me you wanted to do that all week, from the moment you met me.

I let you take my hand as you pulled me from a night of sleep, and instead brought me to spend it by the sea.


If you were here, I would take you to the ocean to feel the salty sea breeze. The wind would pick up and tousle our hair, making us feel the vibrations in the air, as the bright sun masked our lingering smiles from the hot day.

We would talk for hours until you moved a lock of hair from my face and gave me one of your looks.

A smile spreading, you would make a joke to turn the moment lighthearted, to not let on how much you wanted to touch me, simply to feel the current again.

I’ve never seen anyone grin like you, a pure sense of happiness, a face rarely serious that reflected your sunlit features and long gait.

If you were here, we would hear the rustle in the leaves as we climbed the dusty brown hill across the road, feeling the strain in our legs as we made our way up toward the sky for the best aquamarine view.

You would take me to a secluded place to watch the world go by, our feet dangling over the precipice, our conversation slowly fading until it was just the sound of the birds and our adrenalin, side by side.

Your hand would find its way to mine without looking, palms warm and firm, not sweaty. You would know what you wanted.

If you were here, we would spend the night strolling down hidden streets to find a three-piece band. We’d get lost in our love of music, stealing glances, treading lightly as the night wore on.

We would walk until our legs grew heavy and our voices were lost to the night, talking to me like your oldest friend, weaving together stories of your childhood memories and insecurities as I told you mine.

You would ask me to play you a song once we found our way back, because you loved the sound of my voice. I’d make you laugh until your sides grew sore, singing the song that we both knew so well.

The one that we sung when I first felt your eyes on me as more than just a friend.

If you were here, the night would remain crisp and still until morning, just enough of  an undercurrent of wind to keep us moving.

We wouldn’t think about the sun rising or what that might mean. We’d be happy to be two passing boats in the moonlight, just for tonight.


I’m alone as I wake up to the heat of my room, the wind whistles through the door, threatening to bang it closed for the third time.

I slowly get up and walk outside with sleep still in my eyes, the light sea breeze hitting me from four floors up, gently brushing the hair from my face. The local bird in his usual place chirping at me to wake up.

I focus my eyes on the salty horizon and all I think is how this view will never get old. Witnessing it gives my heart a tug, a contentment I can’t quite explain away in pretty adjectives.

I walk to the ocean and dive straight in to awaken my senses, my lungs, every muscle that I haven’t used in a long time.

The strength in my body pushes me through to shore. My toes touch the smooth stones beneath my feet as I stand up and shade my eyes from the bright sun, masking my lingering smile from the heat that’s already rising.

My mind wanders as I walk to a beach over, an hour and a half away. I think about my favorite childhood memories, my insecurities and strengths, and where they’ve led me today.

I find a secluded spot at the highest part of the road, where I can feel the ocean in the wind and hear it crashing down below. My feet dangle over the side of the ridge, trusting the earth beneath me to not crumble into the sea.

My heartbeat is in my ears, eyes clear, mind focused, adrenalin coursing through my veins. This is when I feel the most me.

I find my way back to the place I started and take the bus into town, getting lost in the hot Greek night, making wrong turns on purpose to see which hidden streets I can find tonight.

A whisp of laughter and music greets me and I follow the sound to a dark basement bar down the street. I walk in and make eye contact with the tall green-eyed blonde at the bar, putting a seat between us as I sit down.

He turns to introduce himself, giving away his European lilt with an easy grin, reminding me of someone I used to know as he tells a joke that makes me laugh until my sides grow sore.

We drink cheap beers and talk into the night, until the bar gets ready to close. He offers to walk me to the station, to enjoy the hot summer breeze and maybe another drink.

Instead, I give him a light kiss on the cheek and say goodbye, his eyes following me as I disappear into the night.

I hear my feet hit the pavement and I make my way through the winding cobblestones. This is when the city is at its most serene, the best time to simply walk alone.

My body takes me where I need to go without thinking, I’ve walked these streets so many times in the past six weeks I could probably do it with my eyes closed.

I wave down the last bus and stare out at the fluid streets before me as they zoom past. The lights are like a runway guiding me home. I sigh deeply and relax into the gentle curves of the road.

My room is dark and cool as I let myself in, stealing one last look at the horizon from the balcony. The lights twinkle and curve up a hill I know is there, although I can no longer see it.

My hands grip the rail, eyes closed, and I just let myself be. To finally feel clean.

I step inside and crawl into bed, leaving the door open just a crack, so the wind can whistle its way into the heat of the morning.

If You Were Here is a series of love letters about life, and the people and experiences that make it what it is. 

If You Were Here, Part II - Love Letters from Around the World - The Atlas Heart

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Mimi McFadden
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