Last night I went out to dinner with my new friend. We went to this Chinese place by my old house; it felt like fall and I had on my denim jumper and my Adidas. We sat in the back booth and we were talking about anything and everything and then we got to the subject of you. Of course it was inevitable, anywhere I go or anyone I ever talk to, it always comes back to you.
We were sitting there bantering and she was saying how much she hates you and how you’re just a cheater, and a prep, and I should cut my hair since you always told me you loved it long and I should forget about the year and a half that made us who we are. I sat there in silence as she reduced you to just a few adjectives, until she ran out of things to accuse you of. Then I started talking.
And I still don’t really know where it all came from.
But I told her everything. One by one the bricks started to tumble down until all of my pallasades where nothing but piles of rubble at my feet. Meeting you for the first time, football games, kissing you at Christmas, seeing you after being in New Jersey for two weeks finally, holding your hand, the little parties at my house we’d have with all our friends, the way you’d spend all night up a prisoner to your insomnia, but you’d fall asleep with me every morning on the way to school, our limbs entangled, listening to your breath become even as the sun would start to rise creating little patterns on your skin that I’d aimlessly trace.
I divulged all the “I love you’s” all the “we shouldn’t do this” all of everything. The flurry of excitement, the butterflies, crying on my bedroom floor, too weak to even make it to the sheets. Too weak to even disguise the puffy eyes I’d be left with the next morning. I got up to the summer, all the things I’d done to you all the hell I put you through. That 3 am phone call when I was alone on the beach, hearing about boys whose names I’d forget but whose taste would linger, hearing me tell you about staying out all night just to wake up on the beach, going to random parties with people I met an hour before. The more I talked I could see her face changing, her expression softening. I’m not sure if she understood but as I raced through the story of you answering my call begging me to get home safe, the explosive fights we’d get into when someone started acting like they didn’t care enough and the awkward silence that would follow when someone would admit that they cared too much, the way you’d hug me from behind and cover my eyes, the things my mom said about how much she loved you. I watched as it all tumbled out in front of me.
Then I got to that Sunday night. I got to “I’m in love with you.” Even though it was wrong, even though you had a girlfriend, even though I wasn’t supposed to care anymore, even though I was strong and brave and independent. The excuses I made, the fronts I put up. How I locked the door and threw away the key. The secrets I kept, not telling you about my parents divorce, or the real reason I didn’t want to see you anymore, and why I was always yelling at you. How I didn’t tell you that in November you were my world and in December you where my galaxy and by January I was just floating in outer space because I was so hopelessly caught up in you that things like oxygen and gravity seemed totally irrelevant.
I told her about that night, when I came clean after we screamed at each other in front of your girlfriend, about how I cried in the stadium bathroom and the next day when my shaky hands typed out those three words, “I love you,” not like a friend, or your best friend that you sometimes kiss, or “your girl,” but as I love you.
Then I had to tell her that you didn’t say it back.
That instead you asked me if I could spend my whole life with you. If I could give it all up, England, traveling the world, my career as a journalist, following random bands on tour. If I could settle down, if I’d have your children, if I could be your future.
Then I had to tell her I said no.
I told her about the bone crushing sadness that ensused. About the seven text messages on my phone that have gone unanswered, about how I’m tripping over my shoelaces trying to race ahead of you and change. How I threw away all of our old polaroids together and your ID tag from freshman year that I’d tease you about, how I can’t even look at any of our old friends, how I’m going to cut my hair. How I started listening to more Led Zeppelin, and shopping at Goodwill, and had to make all new friends, and now I’m a vegetarian again and at this point I was crying because you know I don’t know what point I’m trying to prove, or to who, but I’m really in love with you and I’m trying my absolute hardest to get away from you.
But I can’t.
Cause it’s like crashing your car and then realizing you need to drive somewhere to get help.
You told my old best friend that you wanted to talk to me about getting over me. That you tried to talk to your girlfriend, but she just got frustrated and anyways she didn’t look at you the same. She didn’t listen the same.
I’m not sure what there is to get over though. I know I’ve been cold, I know I’ve been distant. I know that it’s been over two months since we’ve talked cause yeah, I’m counting. I know that lately I’ve been different and I’m still listening to bands you’ve never heard of except I don’t take the time to tell you about them anymore, and I don’t smile as much anymore even though I’m trying, and I avoid riding the bus just so I don’t have to see you, and I flirt with that stoner junior boy in your Algebra 2 class all the time just so he talks about me in front of you.
But I don’t get why that matters to you.
Cause at the end of the day I’m the one that’s in love with you.
See, when I asked you what this meant, what you wanted to do I got silence. I got read at 1:02 am. I got to see you kiss her in the hallway, I got to hear “he’s asking about you again,” I got to hear from all of our friends that I was doing the wrong thing. That I owed you an explanation, that it wasn’t right to ignore you that this was killing you despite the fact that my blood was still all over your hands from the last time you shot me in the chest.
Part of me thinks it’s because you love me too.
Part of me believes them when they say we have what everybody spends their lives searching for. That you care about me more then anybody ever will, that I’m everything to you. That you’re just scared because I make you wonder, that there’s no guarantee with me. That I don’t think things through and I’m impulsive and that scares you. That you’re just scared of the butterflies casue they always felt more like bees. That you like comfortable, you like planned futures and white picket fences. You don’t like Tokyo one year and Manchester the next, you don’t like uncertainty.
But you love me anyways.
You can take my chipped black manicured hands in yours. You can take my panic attacks and crying episodes, you can take my commitment issues and big plans. That despite everything you’re the only person that’s ever really gotten through to me. You can talk me down when it’s 2 am and my finger is inches from the trigger. You can get me to put down the gun.
All of our friends say that no one else can evoke that from you. That I’m the only person that makes you start to second guess yourself, that doesn’t fit perfectly into your color-coded, alphabetically organized world. I was the first person you ever let color outside the lines, leave your bed unmade. The first person you ever let jeopardize this illusion of perfection you upheld so tightly. Maybe it’s because I’m the only person you can fall asleep with.The only one that you can justify stupid decisions, and ambivalence, and tripping down the steps cause you’re too busy trying not to lose sight of me.
But obviously you can’t love me that much. Maybe somewhere between “I love you” and “I’m in love with you” I got caught up and you never did. It’s just hard to hear “I love you” so many times and not start to believe it. You still have a girlfriend even if you tell me you love me each one comes with a silent “but not enough” that I neglected to hear over the course of that year.
But I remember when your friend died and you were crying on the phone to me.
I remember when you found out my parents were getting a divorce and I had kept it a secret for 7 months and you told my best friend nothing had ever hurt you worse.
I remember you meeting my family.
I remember all of our friends racing down my old street, the music you’d listen to, the way your smile would change throughout the day-soft and slow in the morning and like lightning in the afternoon.
I remember it all.
And I can’t tell if that’s good or bad. A reason to move on or a reason to hold on.
And I lay this out to her alongside her ramen noodles and sushi and she doesn’t know what to do with it because I don’t either.
She asks me if I talk in poetry and then she starts second guessing it. She starts talking about soul mates, and maybe I really do love you, and maybe we really are meant to be, and maybe I shouldn’t be ignoring you. And the next thing I know she’s calling you from some unknown number while I try to convince her that you don’t want to hear from me and I’m begging her to put the phone down because I couldn’t take the thought of you answering and I couldn’t handle the thought of you not caring enough to pick up.
But the call fails.
I know that it’s the bad reception in the restaurant. I know that it’s because we’re the very last booth in the whole place and that you can’t even send a text message let alone make a life altering call. But I’m the same girl that believes in astrology and has healing crystals on her windowsill. I still believe that it’s the universe’s way of telling me it’s unsure too. That it’s just as ambivalent as I am. That I’ll never know if you would have picked up on the first ring or declined on the third, if we would have been perfect for each other, or spent the next two years tearing each others lives apart.
My phone buzzes again, it’s a text from you asking if I called. Too lazy to try me back. It was then I realized that there was nothing to decide. That I’d be always be waiting for a phone call when I’d only ever get a text message. All I’d ever gotten was a few quick characters rife with abbreviations and spelling mistakes. That you hated the sound of your voice on the phone and you didn’t care about me enough to go through the discomfort of hearing it. That you’d put in some effort, but you’d never give me your all.
It was when I paid the check that I noticed for the first time in two months my hands didn’t shake. That night I went home and cut my hair and the long strands that you once adored wound up in my trash can. For the first time maybe since we met I did something with no intention of eliciting any response from you. Yes it’s uneven, yes I did it with safety scissors, yes some pieces in the back are longer than those in the front. It’s not perfect but at least you don’t see me the same.