(Note: This letter was written in a moment of pure catharsis yesterday that my friend encouraged me to write in order to finally obtain closure over this one stupid boy that I’m sure I’ve mentioned countless times on this blog. I think it worked. Maybe one of you will take more away from it that I can. Oh, and I’m too lazy to change names, locations, etc., so there is a frighteningly realistic chance that the one to whom this letter is addressed may one day come across it.)
So. Today is Valentine’s Day.
I remember bumping into you in the main stairwell at BHS on Valentine’s Day. That was six years ago. At the time, things had cooled off between us since that night at the park and I realized there was no way in hell my dad would let me date you, and we hadn’t really talked in a while. But we greeted each other. I remember wishing we were Valentines that day.
I remember bumping into you at a frat party Valentine’s Day weekend during our freshman year at U of I. That was five years ago. Things got steamy on that couch. Then somehow you got into a fight with one of my friends, and her cousin threatened to beat the shit out of you. I called you at 3 in the morning to see if you were OK and you said it wasn’t a big deal. But I was concerned. I cared. Thinking about it now, I should’ve stopped myself then. Stopped that caring before it ever started.
I remember you didn’t play much of a part in my Valentine’s Day senior year. That was two years ago. I had dinner instead with Vince and had a fun night out with friends at Red Lion. I don’t think you realize how much of a role Vince had in our story. In fact, I’m only realizing it now. Everyone compared him to you just because you guys had similar racial backgrounds (except his white half was Ukrainian, and it was his mom that was white). My roommates were convinced you were twins and subconsciously it was as if I was trying to substitute him for you. And maybe I was. But Vince and I had a lot in common, you see. We both studied abroad, had interests in law, cared a lot about the same issues, liked the White Sox, and more. Plus, he’d seen all the Star Wars movies and LIKED them. I don’t know what it was me and you had in common, except for maybe the Bulls. You were such an old man. I hated that you showed no enthusiasm when I was telling you about my adventures abroad. I hated that you never wanted to go swimming with me that summer. You, sir, were not very fun, now that I come to think of it.
But anyway, two years ago during that last fateful semester of college, Vince got in the way. When you didn’t show enough interest or effort in keeping our friendship alive, I went with Vince instead. I can think of two clear occasions on which this happened, which ironically happened on both your birthdays (you both have February birthdays—another reason why my friends were convinced you were twins). On his birthday, I wanted you to come out and meet me and Elizabeth at Firehaus. Yet Vince had texted me to come out for his birthday around 11. You didn’t respond to me until well after midnight. In a moment of bitterness and anger, I went with the guy who was showing me more interest.
Then on your birthday, I started out at Kyra’s for her birthday. (Sometimes I really wish you guys didn’t have the same birthday. I feel like everytime I celebrate hers from now on I will always remember it’s yours too.) Kyra told me to text you both at the same time and to see who responds first. Miraculously, it was you. (But by only a few minutes.) Still, I wasn’t sure who to pick. Kyra’s group was off to one bar, and my roommates went off to another. I ended up with Kyra’s group at Cly’s, while I believe you stayed at Joe’s. Vince met up with me at Cly’s. And so I went home with him that night. And woke up to a drunk text from you.
To this day I don’t know what to make of our story. Did I foolishly choose another boy, who only turned out to be a passing fancy? Was it my pride, which refused to let me crawl to you and instead kept giving you these tests of pursuit? Was I a fucking idiot for thinking that you would still hold the same feelings for me after those 4 months I was away? See, the thing is, my roommates did see you that night at Joe’s (remember I said they went off to another bar?). They told me of a girl you danced with, a plain young-looking white girl who couldn’t keep her hands off you. Maybe you had also found your Vince then, another girl you had interest in while waiting out for the one who originally stole your heart. Or maybe, just maybe, you had pulled a Summer Finn on me and found the person for whom the things you were not sure of before with me, you were absolutely sure of with her then.
I think that’s why I still have a hard time letting you go completely. I’m not convinced you didn’t fall in love with me the same way I had fallen for you. I still remember you knocking my friend Malcolm to the side at Joe’s that summer, just because he was “acting too friendly” and had given me a kiss on the cheek. And I still remember you shedding tears toward the end, while we were in bed, and at Union Station when we said our final good-byes before I left for Costa Rica. There was no way that after four years of playing all those games, all those charades, I didn’t affect you the same way you had affected me. It boggles my mind as to how or why you chose that little girl over me, and how or why you are still with her two years later.
And so we come to today, this Valentine’s Day in 2013. Like a fool, I decided to look at your old roommate’s wall yesterday and found her profile listed among his friends. I saw you in her picture. I clicked on her Facebook. I read the quote she had chosen as her caption. I read the caption she put in for her cover photo, which also featured you. Then I cried.
I cried over you for the first time in months (and I thought I was getting better, I really did) last night. I cried because this girl, this person of whom I know nothing about, is with you now. And you are with her. You are not with me, and I am not with you. I invested four years of feelings in you, and it all came to nothing. Even after almost two years since we last had any direct contact, I can still feel the pain as if it was yesterday. The wounds may have healed a little bit, they are still there and they still fucking hurt.
Maybe some people are meant to fall in love with each other, but are not meant to be together.
I always wonder what would have happened if I never studied abroad. If I had told the Study Abroad Office right before leaving that I changed my mind. Would we be together now? And would this girl, this person you are really with today, not be with you instead of not with me? But then I remember those four months in Costa Rica, those four amazing months. I was only gone for one semester, you know. And we did talk every week when I was gone, if you recall. Was it really that impossible of a task for you, to have to wait four months for me so that we could really, finally, actually be together when I got back? You knew that I was going away when we first hooked up, that it was a predetermined situation. Looking back, if you were the sacrifice I had to make in order to have the most amazing experience of my life, then so be it. I was willing to fight through the distance, to wait for you. You weren’t.
Your loss. Not mine.
I hate that you made me swear off love forever. I hate that you made me feel like damaged goods whenever I talked to someone about my past. You know how you used to say “I don’t believe in relationships” or how you told my roommate “There’s no such thing as dating, you’re either single or married”? That was me for a while during the past two years. For a while, I was completely, utterly dead inside. I refused to care for anyone ever again. I didn’t ever want to have to develop and experience feelings like that for someone ever again. They say it’s better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all, but that is such bullshit. Truth is, it absolutely sucks to have loved and lost. It makes you scared and terrified, and only ever more determined to never let it happen again. Others have often told me many a time how hard my guard is, how thick the walls I’ve built around me. And it’s because of you. The person I am now, this hardened shell I’ve become, is all because of you.
But now there’s someone who’s cracking the shell a little bit. It’s as if I’ve come to the end of my (500) Days of Summer, except in this case, the (6) Years of You. I understand now that, for whatever reason, you and I were not meant to be together. Instead, I’m meant to be with someone who actually tells me how he feels, who doesn’t sleep facing the other way when we’re in bed, who tells me he is willing to wait for me to come out of whatever current phase I’m in and to be ready for a relationship. Someone who actually says sorry if he took too long to text me back, who drunk texts me about how much he wants me there with him, who says he can’t believe that someone like me would want to be with him. (Oh, and someone who HATES LeBron James as much as I do, you crazy motherfucker.)
I’m happy now. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt like smiling this much. Instead of an intense, suffocating passion like what I had felt for you, I feel an actual, growing connection with this new person. I like it. I’m excited. It feels more real, more possible and believable than anything ever before.
I am realizing now why I am not with you and you are not with me. Because now I get to be with him.
Honestly, you turned out to be the best thing I never had.