After Trey, I started collecting receipts from everywhere I went. Coffee shops, grocery stores, banks.
On the best and worst days, I boxed the date on the fading print with red ink. I kept it aside, let it live longer than the rest, let myself remember. On the hazy days, I scribbled poetry on the backs and left them all over the city, like breadcrumbs, to help me remember where I’d been while knowing I’d soon forget.
Every boy (and girl) that came after wanted to know why. Why the remembrance, the need to prove where that I was in this place on this date? I never tell them it started with an airport receipt. A three-dollar call to say goodbye, right before the flight that took me away and the one I always thought I’d come home from. I never did.
After dates became receipts, people became places I’d seen.
Zack was the Indian Ocean, a collection of miles and depths that we both realized we couldn’t swim, and Marvin was my sun-kissed, short-lived romance in Tuscany. Lucas was the village in the North where I lived for two years longer than I planned to, and Vance was Bali—I’d never been there, but I’d always wanted to go.
Then there was C.
C was the six short weeks I spent on a writing exchange in Singapore. Everywhere in the city was artful and quiet, like a constant loop between evening and night. I went to exactly one party at the university hosting my program; it was a mixer and, of course, there he was.
It was a warm June night and I hadn’t written anything in three weeks. C stood at the opposite end of a makeshift bar with a group of others and (looking back, I don’t know how I could have missed it, but) the boy had baggage. They blew their smoke out an open window, sketched figures in the air with their hands.
I crouched over an empty table and scribbled, Sewn into the sleeves of his cyan blue sweater were— I crumpled the paper and tossed it into a nearby potted plant. Followed by the rest of my drink. Then I went home.
The next morning, he was in my classroom.