The story of love is intertwined with the story of man. Love is born, love grows and changes, and then love dies. But when that love is gone, it leaves something behind. It leaves something that changes us and makes us better. The story of my most recent love is like a firecracker; brief, but one of the most beautiful things in this world. Though its time was fleeting and in the end left us both burnt, I uphold that it was worth every second.
That spring was a strange time in my life. I was slowly but surely adjusting to college life, but I was more lonely than anything else. I had friends, I was involved in activities around campus, but I was that puzzle piece that didn't quite fit into its place no matter how hard you tried to jam it in. That was when a friend of mine invited me to a viewing party of The Oscars. To be honest, I didn’t care about The Oscars at all; I went for the free food. Regardless, it was the first time in a while that I let loose and had some fun. It was also where she and I met.
After that first meeting I was positive she hated me. She had broken up with her last boyfriend a few months prior, and she was not in a mood to be talking to anyone.When I tried to ask her about it, she snapped at me and told me not to “butt into her business”. She couldn’t have made it any clearer that she wanted nothing to do with me, but I couldn’t stop thinking about her.
The funny thing is, we ended up hanging out a lot more that semester. She warmed up to me rather quickly; I like to think it was because I made her laugh. From there we started talking regularly. We’d send Snapchats to one another, we’d hang out, and we’d flirt with each other here and there. It was that magical beginning of something wonderful; the type of feeling that you think only characters in movies experience - until it happens to you. Observing it unfold was cinematic in nature. I would stay up all night and re-read our text messages, hanging onto every word she sent. And when I closed my eyes, it was the two of us on a tropical beach where no one could reach us.
One night we got together with some friends to watch a few movies. She agreed to watch all my favorite comic book movies, even though the two of us were the only people who actually liked them. We were two magnets left alone on a table, creeping toward each other ever so slowly until a force of nature itself brought us together. Before either of us realized what had happened, my arm was around her waist and her head was leaning on my chest. We remained locked in that perfect position for a while, and I swear I could not wipe the smile off of my face.
One by one our friends returned to their rooms as the night progressed, except us two.We had stayed. She had an assignment to finish that night, so I sat and waited for her. She worked as I cracked jokes, and she laughed at every single one. Even the ones that weren't as funny. The two of us laughed the night away; and before we knew it it was four in the morning and we were too lost in each other to notice.
Eventually she finished her work and I walked her back to her room where she gave me a hug: this hug would be the first spark. My body implored me to go to bed, however my brain refused to comply. My heart was lit ablaze by that first tiny spark and I wanted more. That goodbye was all I would see of her for the rest of that night, however. Just like that, she went into her room, and I walked back to mine and watched the sun rise.
As I strolled across campus back to my room, new thoughts overcame me. In that moment I realized that she was the type of person who didn't come around all too often. The saying goes there are a billion fish in the sea, but she was the one in that billion. She was the fish who didn’t swim with the rest of the school. She did what she wanted and she could care less what anyone thought of it. Much like the morning sun I watched rise, so too did the sun rise on something great between us. I was ready to dive head first into whatever came next.
As with anything in life going so well, it was only a matter of time before a wrench was thrown into this wonderful machine of ours, and that wrench was the end of the semester. I went home to New York, she went home to New Jersey, and for some people that would have been the end of it. Our romance would have died right then and there with nothing either of us could do to save it. But on my way home from school, I sent her a text. At the time I thought nothing of it, I just wanted to talk to her.
Before either of us noticed it we were talking every hour of every day. She was the first person I texted when I woke up, and she was the last person I texted when I went to sleep. We would talk about anything and everything. We asked each other questions about ourselves, we nagged about our boring summer jobs and detailed how our days went. We would rattle on for hours and hours on the phone, never running out of things to say. Not a single day went by that entire summer that she and I did not talk, and it was bliss.
One day in July, in an act of pure stupidity, I called in sick to my summer job. I hopped on a train, and I went to New Jersey. She picked me up in her car and showed me around her town. She planned out an entire day full of activities for us. We visited her favorite diner and she was annoyed when I offered to pay. We went bowling and made jokes about how bad we both were. Objectively, nothing we did was particularly special, but the fact that we were together was all I needed.
That aside, there was one part of that day I will never forget. It was around noon and the sun was hanging perfectly above us in the clear blue sky. She took me to the woods by her house and we went for a hike. We held each other’s hands and talked for hours like we normally did, only this time we were in person, and I could see her eyes light up when I told her how pretty she was. I could feel her hand in mine and it was something fantastic, like the spaces between my fingers were tailor made to fit hers.
We strolled past perfect crystal streams, hopped across eroded stones, and lost ourselves in a perfect maze of trees. Even with the map in our hands, we went in a loop two different times trying to change paths. We could think of nothing else to do but laugh, I was far too interested in her to pay attention to where we were going anyway. A ways into the path she motioned to me to follow her, and we veered off the main trail, heading deeper into the woods. This time, however, she knew exactly where she was going. Nestled away in the most unassuming clearing was a boulder with a flat, eroded surface. It was far enough from the main path that it could not be easily seen, and it was a truly beautiful spot in every sense of the word. For those few magical hours the rest of the world could not have been farther away. We sat there on that rock, captains of a ship sailing along the arborous sea, and enjoyed each other’s company.
After a while we decided to lie down and look at that cerulean sky. The trees provided the perfect amount of shade for us, and even though it was July, the weather was that perfect equilibrium of temperature. I looked at her, she looked at me, and we leaned in. Our lips met. In that moment I would have sworn that there was electricity flowing through her lips and into my heart. She sent a bolt of lightning through my body and set my heart on fire. It was the best kiss of my life.
I only saw her two other times the rest of that summer- but it didn’t come close to putting out that flame she lit in me. If you asked any of my friends or family they would tell you that I would not stop talking about how crazy I was about her. Back then, the only thing on my mind was getting through the rest of that long and otherwise uneventful summer so that I could be back at school with her again. I was convinced the coming semester was going to be different from those that came before it.
Just a few months prior I was on the verge of drowning in a storm of loneliness. I resigned myself to that solitude. I thought that I would be stuck with it forever. But now she was the only thing on my mind. Even a whole state away, it felt like she was right there with me, asking me about my day and making plans for the future. We envisioned so many plans together; but it was mostly me going on about how I wanted to take her out on all these romantic dates. She, on the other hand, was more interested in staying in. Both options were equally wonderful, and I spent my days just staring at the clock until I went back to school just so I could see her again.
Before I realized it, the summer ended. I drove back to school with my parents and they helped to move me into my new dorm. I was really excited to see my old friends again and start a new semester. Mostly, however, I was enthusiastic about being with her for more than just one day at a time.
That new beginning in the fall was when things started to change for the worse. Whenever I asked her to do something, she took it as an open invitation to bring all her other friends. When I wanted to come over to see her, she said yes without hesitation. For me, walking across campus to her dorm was easy. I did it time and time again because the thought of spending time with her outweighed all of the negatives in my mind. When I asked her to reciprocate this favor and come visit me, she was “too tired” or it was “too late” or one of dozens of exaggerated excuses. Every day would start in the same way- “I want to see you”- but it always ended with an excuse as to why that couldn’t happen. As the semester went on, our relationship began to decay faster and faster. We were an isotope, and our half life had come sooner than either of us expected.
When September came around we had our first fights. What were once conversations filled with compliments and love, became complaints dominated by accusatory phrases. “You’re embarrassed by me?” “You don’t make the effort anymore,” “I’m trying my best but is that enough?” “Why do your friends have to come to every single thing we do?” “How do I change?” “I don’t want you to change” “Then what do we do?”. By the end of September, when the leaves were just beginning to turn color and fall gracefully to the ground, I realized what was going to happen. At this point our demise was a but inevitable, even if I chose not to believe it. While my heart was still coursing with the electricity of that first kiss, my mind foresaw our impending fall.
All that aside, I kept on going. I convinced myself that everything was going to be fine, and that all I had to do was put in more and more effort. I took her to dinner at a nice restaurant and we had a wonderful time. I prepared a date night in with all her favorite movies and snacks, and once again we were enamored with each other. For a moment, I began to think that things were changing for the better. I thought that I could save our relationship from that fall with nice things and complimentary language. And I kept on convincing myself of this for as long as I could. For a while, I even believed it. And at the height of this attempted revival of our relationship I made a decision.
It was one abnormally cold night in early October when I told her I loved her. We were in bed, and I was staring into her eyes just like I was in the woods just a few months before. We had our share of problems, and in my head I knew that this ship was sinking, but I went ahead and told her anyway.
“I love you,” I said.
“I love you too,” she replied.
I loved her. I knew what was coming for us, and I knew that it would take nothing short of a miracle to salvage this relationship. But I refused to let this emotion go unsaid. In that moment I realized that we were in love, and that love was something to be cherished. It may have ebbed and flowed like the tide, but more than anything it was real. It made me a better person, and I don't regret it for even a moment.
Despite my love, and my desire to try and salvage our relationship, I ultimately decided to end it about a week before Halloween. No matter what I did, there were glaring problems with our relationship that would have only grown in size the longer we were together. In the days leading up to it, every text she sent left me racked with guilt. We had our issues, but to her it seemed like everything was fine. I was about to ambush her with this bombshell and leave her with her ears ringing and her vision cloudy. When the time came, I went to her and I told her what I was feeling. I told her I was unhappy and that no matter how hard I tried I was unable to make the relationship work. She didn't have much to say in response. I like to think a part of her saw it coming, that we both realized this couldn't go on for that much longer. She said she understood, and then I left.
There isn't much I remember from that day, but the one thing I do remember was her face when I told her I wanted to break things off. I couldn't forget that face even if I tried, and believe me I've tried excruciatingly hard. It looked like someone had knocked the wind out of her lungs, as if she'd fallen from some indiscriminate height down to this new devastating low. There exists a part of myself that I refuse to forgive for that, irrational as it may be. The fact that I caused her some amount of pain and heartbreak made me feel cold and hollow, like my heart was made of lead.
With just a few words everything we had, everything we were, fell away. Just as the leaves on the trees had all but died as November began, so too did our relationship. Of course I was still hurt. It felt like I was missing a part of myself, whether that part was good or bad was completely irrelevant. Any of that fire I felt before was quenched by a tsunami of emotion, and it was all I could do to keep my head above the raging water. I tried to fill that void in my heart with friends, work, and other girls. No matter what I did, I felt this void. It was as though the loneliness of the past was reaffirming its grip on my soul with a vice like grip.
So this is our obituary. The legacy of a love short lived, but full of passion and wonder. The worst part of it all, though, is that when a relationship dies there is no funeral. There is no eulogy nor group of loved ones gathered around you. All we had was a short farewell, and I was on my way. My only regret in the aftermath of us, was that I was never able to ask her what she thought about it all. Did she truly care for me the same way I cared for her? Does she mourn this thing that we created, the life and death of a love so innocent and good? Those questions are fill in the blank, and I fear those blanks may never be filled at all.
However, while I ponder the past with metaphors and flowery language, maybe things just aren't as grand and fantastic as I imagine them to be. After everything that happened, maybe the two of us are now just two single people who are trying to live our lives as best as we can. But if I close my eyes and focus really hard, there still exists a spark of electricity in my heart. It's not a spark for her, but one for me. It reminds me that love like that, as fleeting and brief as it was, is worth every minute of every day. And even now, when the chill of winter has rendered every tree barren, I will continue to move forward and wait. I will remember the death of this love as I wait for the birth of another.