PROMISE.

By Kelly Ann

Do you ever hear a song for the first time, and something about it, the melody or the lyrics or the way it makes you feel, instantly brings back a memory? You're transported to that moment you had pushed to the very depths of your mind. The sights, the smells, the sounds, the way your heart felt, the way someone looked at you, the words that spilled from your lips. You relive it. Every second of it. A lot of songs do that for me - Re: Stacks by Bon Iver, Almost Lover by A Fine Frenzy, and this song: Promise by the always inspiring Ben Howard.

It brings me back to my flower field on a cold, wet day. My wild red hair in my eyes, my brown boots muddy, tears falling - but you couldn't tell with the rain softly falling on my face. His favorite hat, cheeks red with frustration, eyes that emoted both sadness and hope. He was leaving soon, for a short time. But he wasn't going without some answers.

"Who are we? What are we? I want this. I want you. Can we try? Promise me, darlin'. I'll come back soon, just promise." he said.

"I don't know. I just don't know." I whispered.

We were two passionate people who drove each other crazy. I thought we would eventually burn out - two similarly stubborn people would end up despising each other, right? I didn't want to get to that point. He wanted to try anyway. There, in the middle of those tall, tall mustard flowers that tried to shelter us. There, in the cold wind that surrounded us and the drip drop drip drop of the rain. There, with the grey sky that felt so fitting in that moment, we said things we both had kept bottled up, and maybe some things we didn't mean. Fiery words and sharp tongues clashed. Guts spilling and hearts cracking and electricity between two very strong beings. He finally moved a piece of hair from my eyes and whispered, "Let's. Just. Try."

As I looked at his face, it was like a veil of infatuation lifted and it hit me. 

"I don't want to." The words spilled from my soul effortlessly. I made up my mind. And while a part of me was heartbroken, a part of me felt free. There was freedom in that sentence... I don't want to. I felt fiercely woman in that moment.

Four years later, that person has stayed with me. It didn't work out, but I learned a lot from him, and he learned a lot from me, and that's something. That rainy day in the field is bittersweet, both broken and whole, if that makes sense. Gentle, yet intense. Sadness and roaring freedom. Loss, but also a gain. There's something powerful in knowing what you want, or don't want, and honoring that. Knowing when to walk away (and knowing that we can walk away) and close that chapter. Knowing when to move on, when to shelter ourselves from what could be and go another way, when it's healthy for us to say goodbye. I'll never forget him, though, and I think of him fondly. His smile, the way he looked at people like they were the only ones in the room, that time he left a sticky note above my desk that said: You're you and that's the best thing. I will remember him always.

And deep in my heart... I will leave a mental sticky note next to that rainy-day memory that says: here, this is our song.