“I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once,” John Green wrote in The Fault in Our Stars, and those words resonated with me as it had with countless others because I knew the enthralling intoxication of gently and then rapidly slipping into a world where barriers and boundaries ceased to exist. And there are few things harsher than being jolted awake — the feeling of falling and being jerked into consciousness — and the peculiar sense of shock and confusion that follows.
I wasn’t trying to change our trajectory but was, in fact, trying to delay it. I didn’t want to stop thinking of him because I knew how quickly I would forget him. I wanted to hold onto the final moments of our relationship the same way you cling to those blissful fragments of your dreams you know aren’t real. When you’re teetering precariously between a state of euphoria and the cold reality of existence and each extra second of sleep — of being able to exist in this alternate dimension — is ineffably exquisite. You grasp onto the dream for each remaining, precious second because you know when you awake, those once vivid details will become hazy. And before you can even attempt to recall the specifics, that haze will quickly dissipate, lost forever in the roaring currents of your unconsciousness; and you will go about your day and the rest of your life forgetting it had even occurred.
I didn’t want to sleep forever — I just didn’t want to wake up just yet. Touching him, seeing him, and continuing to miss him was my way of trying to memorize him because I knew once I woke up, I would only be able to remember how I had felt abstractly — I would be unable to evoke those once palpable feelings in their entirety. But then I awoke, as slowly and quickly as I had fallen asleep; and when I did, try as I might, I could no longer remember what I had dreamt. I could no longer remember him.