This was not my romantic comedy

This was not a romantic comedy, I reminded myself as he walked thru the doors. This was just a chance meeting, not planned. It was just good timing. I didn’t expect this moment in time to be the first moment I would lay eyes on him. Still, there he was, walking toward me. I tried not to read too much into this occurrence. I didn’t really believe in meant-to-be or fate. But this felt like more than just a coincidence. Maybe, just maybe, this was the start of my own grand romantic comedy.

We had met online, like most couples do in this day and age. It seemed like a one-in-a-million shot that we would find each other. But there he was, and there I was, online. I liked his photos and he liked mine, that’s how it started. His first messages to me were perfect, simple yet complex. Of course, my responses were profound, sensitive and deep. We were both intellectuals and we were both flexing our mind-muscles, trying to impress each other. As things progressed between us, we learned more about one another. We were both introspective, we both loved art, we both loved travel. As we shared more about ourselves, it seemed as if we were being pushed toward each other. We lived in the same town, we worked in the same industry, we worked for the same company. All this time, he was working in the small building located just 500 meters from my building. My desk had a south facing window. If he happened to have a north facing window, we could have actually seen each other had it not been for the tinted glass. It all seemed like an elaborate coincidence, straight out of a romantic comedy. You know that movie, quirky girl meets handsome guy that works in the shop next door. Was this fate? I didn’t believe in fate. Still, I found myself wondering if some unknown force might be working to bring us together.

I had seen his pictures on the internet, he was so handsome. I had heard his deep voice on the other end of the phone. It was like talking to a dream soaked in baritone. I sat in the lobby of my office building, pondering this baritone dream, thinking of those handsome photos. That’s when it happened. I glanced out of the large floor to ceiling window and there he was! He was strolling down the sidewalk, directly toward me. This would be our first, in real life, meeting. A surprise, unplanned, simply-by-chance meeting that was just good timing. This was not a romantic comedy. This was not fate, I tried to convince myself. Still, my mind could not help but flash to those Hollywood moments. This exact minute, this was my serendipitous meeting straight from the movies. He would walk in, immediately recognize me, look into my eyes, take me in his arms, say he’s waited his whole life for me, then he would kiss me, the credits would role and we’d live happily ever after.

He walked in and immediately did not recognize me. I looked right at him and nothing, nada, zilch. I said hello, in what seemed like a nervous yelling voice that sounded like a boy in puberty. He looked at me like I was a stranger. I said hello again and waived. I must have looked like an awkward nerd, waiving my hands in the air, yelling hello, desperately trying to get his attention. It was at that same awkward moment that he recognized me. His face changed from happy, to surprised, to panic. He seemed to walk faster toward his destination. I was sinking, trying to make myself invisible. I vaguely recall him saying something about helping someone and texting later, but I was distracted, caught in the land of embarrassment, too humiliated to hear a word. Then he disappeared.

This was obviously not a romantic comedy. But, like in all romantic comedies the awkward clumsy girl always gets the guy. To my surprise, not two minutes later I received a text asking me to meet him back in that same lobby. Maybe this would be okay, I told myself. Or maybe he thought I had Tourette syndrome and hello was my nervous tick. It couldn’t have been that bad, I reassured myself. So I took a deep breath, quickly tousled my hair, checked my makeup and headed back to the lobby.

As I approached him, I could already tell he was perfect. He was just the right height, a flawless 5’10”. His light olive skin mixed well with his dark black hair. His eyes were grey like the stormy sea. We locked eyes. We said hello. Then he took me in his arms and hugged me tight. He held me for what I hoped would be an eternity. His arms were so comfortable and warm, it felt like I was finally arriving home from the long journey of being alone. I felt like I would never be lonely again. My stomach had butterflies, I was floating. We looked at each other, I was smitten. He was smiling. Almost unconsciously, I was trying to close the space between us. I felt my face get warm, blushing after I realized how I had been touching him all this time. I apologized, making the excuse that my touching was just because I was a touchy person. But really, it was just him. I was attracted. This was our first meeting and I was flying.

We continued to speak on the phone. Our conversations were tremendous. Intellectual and stimulating. We talked about religion, music, politics, great art, great poetry, theories on relationships. His mind was wonderful. We had an intellectual connection that I had never experienced with anyone before him. He understood the lights and darks of a Vermeer painting and the nuances within a Neruda poem. We spoke for hours about these lovely things. He was lovely. There was no level of insecurity between us. No second guessing. It was like we were eighteen years old. When you’re eighteen, you don’t think — should I call? Is it too soon? You just call! You don’t think about the rules associated with dating, you just move forward, uninhibited. Teenage girls, they just feel excitement, and that’s what I felt! Date like your eighteen. It was the best feeling. My heart opened like a morning glory, soaking up the sun. Holy shit! I was in love. I barely knew this man and I was in love. I was acting like I was eighteen, loving like I was eighteen, and not giving a damn what anyone else thought.

But this was not a romantic comedy. Very soon, things started to wane. We continued to talk about lovely things, but as the conversations grew more distant, the tone started to change.

One afternoon, I received a call. He had prepared what seemed like a speech. His voice was rehearsed and metered. He told me, in a very matter-of-fact way, that destiny and fate do not exist. We talked about how meant-to-be is an illusion. I wondered where all this was coming from. What had changed? Even with all the coincidences that had happened between us, I have never mentioned the words fate, meant-to-be or destiny. Yes, I was caught in the moment. And yes, I may have had muttered those words secretly to myself. But I never said those words out loud. Our conversation ended. I immediately went from being an eighteen-year-old girl, floating on air, to a lonely forty-year-old woman being knocked from the sky with a catapult full of words.

From then on, the conversations grew more infrequent. I tried not to push, but how could I not? I was still holding on to this teenage illogical love. This illogical love was driving my actions and my emotions, making me crazy! To try and numb my pain, I turned to what brought me joy: art and poetry. I found myself standing in front of the fine art museum. That day, at that museum, that’s where we ended, just as we began, thru messages. He texted that things were different. He texted that he would be leaving this town. He texted that he could not love me. My heart broke. I cried.

As the tears dropped from my face onto the pavement, I happened to look down into the crack between the wall and the sidewalk. There on the ground, barely noticeable, was a glimmer. I looked a little closer and saw it was a piece of jewelry, a heart shaped necklace with ten embedded jewels. As I turned the necklace over, I could hardly believe my eyes. My heart skipped a beat. There, engraved on that heart necklace, was my name — Christine. It was barely legible, but it was there. Emotionally, I could hardly process what I had found. As I looked closer at the necklace, I saw that one of the jewels was missing, leaving an empty hole. It seemed to be a symbol of the hole I had in my heart at that very moment. That necklace, it was my heart.

Sometimes art imitates life and life imitates art. I walked into that museum, now almost sobbing. I was art, a portrait of heartache. It was so surreal, the sadness I felt as I literally held my own heart in my hands. Like a love sick teenager, I continued to profess my feelings to this man, now almost begging. The beauty of the art that surrounded me seemed to fuel my obvious desperation. I held my own heart in my hands and offered my love to a man that I barely knew, knowing he would never love me back.

As I think back on the brief yet intense love that I experienced, I realized that I had only experienced moments of illusion. Moments of serotonin filled magic. Moments of living with an adolescent heart that could love with no fear. This was not a romantic comedy, but a tragedy. A tragedy filled with unrequited love, desire and, ultimately, death.

On a Sunday afternoon, in early September, my adolescent heart died. Cause of death, complications caused by an irregular heartbeat. My adolescent heart was a mere eighteen years young when she passed away. She was full of passion, love, honesty and blind courage. Survived by a now cynical forty-year-old woman, she leaves behind an aged and tattered heart, a weary body, a cautious mind, and a watered down dream of a grand romantic comedy.

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