Finding the Soul Connection

“You don’t know when you’re going to meet your soulmate, but one sign that you have met this person is that you lot of overlap with that person. Weird connections and overlaps exist — like relatives or friends who know each other, growing up minutes away from each other but not meeting until a very specific point in time, when you’re both ready to receive the soul connection.”

It starts with a bad joke. One that he tells your whole table while taking your order.

“We’ll have two margherita flatbreads, one of the prosciutto flatbreads, two orders of the truffle fries, and that’s all.”

“Great, can I see some IDs, please?”

The blank stares were his answer, as he awkwardly clapped his hands together, laughing nervously. “Just a joke.”

“Didn’t land,” was the response I fired back as I sipped my water. I caught the glance he gave me as he walked away, turning to look over his shoulder.

You think the bad joke will die and you won’t see him again. You don’t think about it again, except to laugh the next day.

It continues at a party, where he’s the one who greets you at the gate. You snicker as you say hello politely, turning to fix him with the same glance he gave you just a few days ago.

He talks to you at the end of the night, while you’re waiting for your cab to show up. He asks you about where you’re from, you find out you lived minutes away from each other for five years. You leave, thinking it was a pleasant exchange with someone you’ll never see.

It continues when he sends you a friend request on Facebook, and you accept, laughing as you tell your friends about it.

He keeps popping up on your feed, liking photos of you and liking the posts you leave on your friends’ walls. You see that a lot of what he shares is similar to what you share. You wonder if all the people who say you are similar are right.

You think that’s the end of it, until he sends you a Facebook message asking if you can swipe him into the dining hall. You can’t, and you tell him so. He shrugs, you shrug, and everyone moves on. That’s that.

It continues when you see him everywhere, cropping up like a tall blade of grass that your lawnmower just can’t get cut down. He tries to make conversation with you, but you’re always busy, running in the other direction, or taking pretend phone calls.

You finally let go, allowing him brief conversations with you when you run into each other in the ten minutes you have between classes. He makes jokes to you when you’re near each other in line for coffee.

It picks up when you see him in the library, wearing headphones and reading the GQ profile of President Obama you just read that morning. Maybe you are similar.

You sit down, jolting him out of the intense concentration with which he was reading the profile. You start talking. The conversation flows like the peppermint flavored seltzer he offers you, alongside raspberries he procures from the magician’s hat parading as his backpack. The snacks keep coming and he keeps you laughing with bad puns and childhood stories about how he missed recess in second grade. You realize it’s been an hour and a half and you’re going to be late for work. He takes you to get a cup of coffee before you leave, promising to send you that article he mentioned as you part ways.

It picks up when he sends you a message with the article, and you smile lightly to yourself, surprised that he remembered. You exchange messages for hours, while you continue reading for class, making dinner, and getting ready for the next day.

You talk more and more, he messages you first thing in the morning, with a story that makes you giggle to yourself in class. You spend most of your time in Comparative Urban Politics crafting the perfect witty response, feeling satisfied as you press send.

Everyone notices how much you’ve been talking, and how easily you clicked. You laugh, saying it’s nice to have a friend who likes the same things as you, someone you can talk to about British literature, good scotch and European style aesthetics.

It picks up when you have dinner together, on a cold December night before you leave for winter vacation, ordering in Thai food and spending hours talking about your families, your goals, your ambitions, and how neither one of you has ever been able to have platonic friendships with the opposite sex. You notice then that it’s awfully warm, and he’s sitting awfully close to you. Your knees are touching, grazing each other lightly. You can see the flecks of green in his eyes, and the slight shadow on his jawline. Maybe he didn’t have time to shave this morning. He’s closer now. He can probably see the slight gap in your eyebrow, the spot you fill in with makeup. He can probably see the tiny eyelash that’s fluttered down on to your cheekbone.

It picks up when you come back from vacation and he calls you the second you get back, asking you to come to dinner. You’re going to have Thai food, but this time, he made it from scratch. He tries to make you watch “When Harry Met Sally,” and even though you know better, you agree. By some strange incident, it doesn’t work. The movie won’t load. You watch “Top Gun” instead. But really, neither one of you is watching the movie. You’re talking through it all, and he keeps refilling your wine glass until you’re revealing more and more, baring your souls to each other.

It picks up when you spend more time together, talking about books and politics and class and getting to know each other. It picks up when he starts sleeping over after nights you stay up late. It picks up when everyone starts asking when you started dating, and you laughingly say “Oh god, no we’re just friends.” It picks up when you start wondering when he’ll ask you out properly.

It slows down when you find out he’s started dating someone else. It slows down when you find out he doesn’t know how you feel and made another choice. It slows down when you guide him through choices in his new relationship. It slows down when you realize, “Oh god, no we’re just friends.”

It slows down when you start to feel it. The knot in your stomach. The bullshit article you read about soulmates was just that — bullshit. You knew it when you read it. You fell into a Google blackhole when that article crossed your path. You shouldn’t have read it. It was bullshit.

It slows down when you run into him at 11:30 at night, in the rain, on the street. He’s drunk, you’re a little buzzed yourself. He looks like he’s trying to get to your building. You ask him what’s going on, he can’t seem to form the words. You give him a funny look. “Good night, get home safe, okay?” You walk away from him and it hits you. You don’t want to walk away.

It slows down when you draft an email, an email you’ll never send.

“I know we agreed to be friends but I can’t do that anymore because I’m in love with you and I’m scared because I really want you to feel the same way but I know how hard that is for you since it’s just as hard for me, too. All I know is that the time I spend with you always feels too short and I can look you in the eyes and tell you everything I’m thinking and I think about you so much that it’s exhausting. I remember everything you tell me about yourself and I want to know more. I want to do everything with you. You scare me because you make me feel so comfortable but so nervous at the same time. I like it when you say my name like it’s your favorite word. I like it when you talk about me to other people. It took me running into you on the street, in the rain, for me to realize it. I’m in love with you.”

It slows down when you start to pull yourself together. Piece by piece you mend yourself. You start to listen to jazz again, you start to drink gin again, you can watch a Nora Ephron movie without wanting to cry, you can laugh again.

It slows down when you can look at him and listen to his problems and talk about his new girlfriend. You can play the role of the supportive friend so convincingly that you even start to fool yourself.

It slows down when his shine dulls. You can see his flaws. He’s flaky, he’s unreliable, he charms his way out of situations. He’s moody. He can disappear for days and come back with a witty one-liner and an article about your favorite author, but it doesn’t change the fact that he disappeared.

It slows down when you realize you idealized him. You’ve idealized this person, this man, this human who has occupied your life for nearly a year. You’re fully aware of how terribly he treats you — you’re always a second choice. You’re not a priority despite how often you make him one. You know he put you through so much, and you can brush over him, but a small part of you is always going to hurt when you look at him. You thought he was it. He felt right. You’re not a weak person, you never have been. You fiercely protect yourself. You’re powerful. You know what you want and you go out and get it. But he makes you weak. He makes you vulnerable. He had his good parts — checking on you when you say that your cab driver makes you uncomfortable. He tells you you’re important to him because he trusts you.

It slows down when the sadness slips away, anger quickly growing in its place. The anger overwhelms you. How dare he treat you like you’re dispensable? How dare he use you as a shoulder to cry on, but never make time when you need someone? How dare he take advantage of all the changes you foolishly gave him? You block his number. You ignore his messages, his emails, his phone calls. You don’t have room for him in your life anymore.

It slows down when you see him at a party. It’s been weeks. You see that he’s unhappy in his relationship. He thinks he made the wrong choice. You can see it in his eyes. He’s unhappy. He drinks too much at a party and hugs you for a little too long. His friend drinks even more and confesses that they all wish it had been you.

It slows down when you feel sad not for yourself, but for him. He made bad choices. He thought he was doing the right thing, but he couldn’t confess to how he really felt. He trapped himself in a relationship he shouldn’t have been in in the first place. He wants you, but it’s too late. You’ve rebuilt yourself, but the foundation is too shaky for him to move in.

Sometimes you make a mistake. Sometimes you think you know what you’re doing, but you don’t. You get on the wrong train. You answer the wrong call. You end up at the wrong restaurant. You meet your soulmate but you don’t always end up with them.

It stops. It stops suddenly, a year after you met him. You feel the emptiness. And you realize you can’t have everything you want. You can’t have anything.

“…you can’t have anything, you can’t have anything at all. Because desire just cheats you. It’s like a sunbeam skipping here and there about a room. It stops and gilds some inconsequential object, and we poor fools try to grasp it — but when we do the sunbeam moves on to something else, and you’ve got the inconsequential part, but the glitter that made you want it is gone.”