Written November 2016
I don’t know how it started.
Looking back it all happened so quickly, and it almost seemed inevitable.
I met a guy, we became friends, it escalated into more. I knew it was probably a typical story, but I had never experienced that before, so how would I know?
One day amidst our usual texting conversations, I realized I was treating him like my boyfriend. Or at least how I thought I’d treat a boyfriend. It felt natural somehow.
One night he needed somewhere to stay, so I let him sleepover. (On the couch. Get your mind out of the gutter.) That night I found myself staying up to talk to him. He wears contacts, and I sat and watched him take them out, replacing them with his glasses. I was just fascinated by him, and I couldn’t explain why.
Fast forward a week or two, to him and me sitting close together against a shed at a party. Maybe it was the Four Loko getting the best of me, or maybe something in me knew it was the right time. Editor’s note from myself almost three years later: I do NOT endorse Four Lokos. Fuck that. I don’t really know how it happened or what I said, but I told this guy that I liked him.
He told me he liked me too.
We held hands that night for the first time.
A couple nights later, he invited me over to his apartment to watch television
I remember being incredibly nervous. I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I had never gone to a guy’s house by myself.
We sat for an hour with a bit of a distance between us on the couch. After the hour-long show, he began to show me a video on his phone. I grew a bit of confidence and leaned in close to him, resting my head on his shoulder. From then on, we sat for more than five hours, just talking about everything from our favorite movies to the meaning of life, pausing only to eat peanut butter-filled pretzels and switch positions, all of which involved some sort of comforting touch.
Finally we decided it was probably time for me to leave given it was past one in the morning. Neither of us wanted me to leave.
He walked me to my car, and I drove him back to the entrance of his apartment building. We sat and talked in my car for another 20 minutes. I knew he was going to kiss me. He knew he was going to kiss me. But instead we kept sitting and talking.
He said I should probably go.
Then after what felt like ages, he leaned in and kissed me. All I could think about was what the fuck was my tongue doing, and why is “Buy U a Drank” the song playing in the background?
He stopped kissing me. At this point I had lost all concept of time so I’m not sure how long we made out for, but the range was probably between one minute and 10 minutes.
When he stopped he gave me this look, a look I’ve never even seen directed towards me before, and he wished me goodnight.
I then proceeded to drive away as quickly as I could. I got home, and I ran to my mom, still filled with adrenaline.
“MOM!!!!! I KISSED HIM!!!!”
I was so excited, I couldn’t wait to see him again.
We continued to go on first dates and have first kisses.
I now laugh when I think about the first time we made out while on his bed. I think about how excited I was.
I think about him kissing my neck, whether at a party or McDonald’s, and all our friends wishing he would stop. I think about how I didn’t want him to stop.
I think about sneaking into the bathroom at parties and making out for as long as we pleased while a line formed outside the door.
I think about us talking about Santa Claus while on a date, then immediately seeing someone dressed as Santa. In September.
I think about trying to start Game of Thrones together, but not being able to get through the first five minutes because all we wanted to do was kiss and talk.
I think about trying to bake cookies together, but they burned, and I didn’t eat any.
I think about how nervous I was to meet his mom, and it ended up being the opposite of something to be worried about.
I think about the couple of nights we stayed up until four or five in the morning, just enjoying each other’s company.
I think about how he would just stare into my eyes and focus on them. I think about how it gave me butterflies.
I think about these things, and I feel warm.
It felt good that for the very first time, someone I liked, and truly liked, also liked me. Truly liked me. I would even say I’m in love with that feeling itself — you’re at the beginning stages of a relationship. He texts you, and your heart skips a beat. He holds your hand, and you never want him to let go. He kisses you, and you never want it to end. Everything is exciting, and you aren’t worried. You’re with him, and you don’t think about the future. Everything is just pure excitement. It’s an incredible feeling.
I don’t know why that feeling doesn’t last.
Maybe the feeling does last for some people. For some relationships. I wouldn’t know. This guy was the first time I ever even got a glimpse of this feeling.
And with this guy, it sure didn’t last.
Suddenly we were getting annoyed with each other for seemingly small reasons, then we would debrief after and then feel good about it for a while. But it was a cycle. It kept happening.
One day during a debrief, we credited our annoyances to our strong personalities.
We discussed how some people have personalities like water. People with water personalities are calm. They go with the flow. They are cool and collected.
We discussed how some people have personalities like fire. People with fire personalities are strong. They are passionate. They are intense.
We agreed we are both fires. I told him I would never want to date anything but a fire.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s the kind of fire that is good for me.
And sometimes I wonder if he was actually a fire when all I got from him were ashes and burn.
Soon enough annoyances and debriefings turned into emotional turmoil.
Four weeks before the end, I saw him cry for the first and certainly not last time. I was told I didn’t show enough affection, and I didn’t have as strong of feelings for him as he had for me.
Somehow my affection grew. My feelings grew. Because he wanted them to.
Three weeks before the end, I told him my head and my heart are giving me conflicting advice. I told him my head was giving me constant recommendations that we should break up.
I only remember screenshots of that night, as if they’re playing in a slideshow.
I think about us hugging each other on his bed, crying.
I think about telling him I regretted admitting what my head kept repeatedly telling me.
I think about not being sure of the future.
But mostly I think about being in the bathroom together, watching him take out his contacts for the last time. And I think about his crying as he took them out, telling me he thought about the first time I watched him take out his contacts.
That moment is what I will remember the most from this guy. That moment within a moment that I so badly wanted to grasp. I compare the two scenes in my head, and I’m so saddened by the difference. Two similar moments, but one is filled with excitement and happiness. The other is filled with a sense of finality. Hopelessness. Almost desperation.
Three weeks before the end should have been the end.
But it pushed on and on. Somehow.
It pushed on and on despite silence and a lack of fulfillment.
Then the end came.
I didn’t know it was the end. I knew something was wrong. But I never thought the end was going to spring upon me without any warning.
We made plans to see each other before he went home for Thanksgiving.
I was excited to see him. I thought he felt the same.
He waited for me in a hallway, and we locked eyes. We smiled at each other, but each smile held opposing meanings.
We held hands that night for the last time.
We walked to the library. We talked for about 30 minutes.
I think about how we discussed how unusual memories are. Why do we remember the things we remember?
I innocently asked what we would remember about each other 10 years from that moment. I think he said something about how he would remember the good times. Who knows. I honestly just don’t remember.
What I do remember: I felt my mood go from 100 to 0 in a matter of a 30-minute conversation with him. I remember feeling miserable. I remember not even questioning why I felt bad.
Instead I asked him if everything was okay with him.
He admitted to not being in a good mood lately. I proceeded to tell him I wish I could help him feel happy.
I didn’t think about my own feelings. Only his.
He didn’t think about my own feelings. Only his.
He told me he shouldn’t need someone to make him happy. Then, and right then, he told me our relationship wasn’t working.
I demanded answers. I didn’t get much. I recall him saying something about how I have stronger feelings for him than he has for me. How he looks at me differently now.
I saw him cry for the last time. He cried when telling me what he would miss about me. He cried when he said he would miss my voice.
Ironically I felt like my voice was the most useless in this situation.
He said I should probably go.
I don’t know how it started.
I don’t know how it ended.
And to answer my own question I asked right before the end: I don’t know what I’ll remember about us in 10 years.
I hope I’ll remember I want a guy who makes me feel full instead of empty. I hope I’ll remember I want a guy that dwells on happiness instead of sadness.
I’m hopeful for a guy that won’t let depressing memories override the carefree ones.
But I’m thankful this guy showed me what I would like to remember.