Some days I hate you more, though there are many days when I hate you less. Overwhelmingly, the days don't make me think of you at all.
Yet Thursday, I walk past a woman who I know is exactly your type, whose beauty twinges my heart. Still, I have the urge to approach her and ask, "Are you single? If so, can I introduce you to my ex?" Because even though we couldn't work it out, you deserve to be happy with someone. One day I will be happy, too.
But it is too much of a simplification to call you my ex. To call you my ex denies the part of our history that has destroyed me the most - the fact that we never made it to a relationship. I referred to you
as my boyfriend to other people because it was easier
than having to explain that we had been dating forever, and that you had asked me to consider us getting serious. Though we were never together, I
always treated you like you were a
permanent fixture in my life. I never would have guessed that you would eventually refuse to have a
place in it.
Friday, I walk past a woman who I immediately can't control my contempt for, because I imagine she might look like Amy.
Saturday, I have been too busy to think about you.
Sunday night, I swipe past your best friend on Tinder.
at work, I have to find the contact information for a woman who you
work with. I envy the proximity i imagine Erin has to you, and my heart nearly implodes as I imagine her speaking to you in the office as you wear my favourite suit of yours. The dark blue one that you wore to our date to Broadway, that you always wear with a crisp white button-down and your matching camel-colored leather wingtips and belt. The only
thing that I think may expand my chest and rid me of this crushed
feeling is Chick-fil-a, my favourite. But it's your favourite, too, so I
feel as if I am giving in.
I keep thinking that these constant reminders of you are
signs that we need to give it another shot, but maybe New York is just a
small city full of 8 million people. The bus route that I take to get
home every day passes by Phebe's, where we had our first kiss. But in a
few short months, I know that I'll stop looking at Phebe's and wondering if you'll
be there the next time I am. I'll stop making the decision whether
to go or not go there on the off chance that you are. In a few months, I'll
even find the courage to Facebook-stalk Amy, and the sight of her won't
twinge my heart even if she's prettier than I am, or if you two
found a way to make it work in a way that you and I couldn't.
Monday evening, I agree to go on a first date with a nice Jewish man who will help keep my mind off of you. I drink an entire bottle of wine by myself at dinner, which is no small accomplishment for a 5'2, 105 pound woman who only began to really drink a few months ago. I ask that we split the check, because the restaurant is BYOB and he had already gone to the store prior to accommodate my request for plum wine. He declines, and has kind eyes when he tells me that he will split it with me if I insist, but is much happier to pay himself.
Tuesday, and I have finally given in. I'm stuck in bed and tears, writing this note to you. Sobs overtake my body that has been growing steadily too thin. I clutch the
Build-A-Bear that my best friend gave me to cuddle for moments exactly
like this: I need her here but she lives across the country, and
there is essentially 3000 miles of emotional space between you and I. In this city surrounded by 8 million people, I have no one to talk to, and anyway, you're the only one who would be able to make it right.
I started dating someone around the same
time as you, who I got along with just as well. He was younger, more energetic, and maybe more compatible with me than
you were. Neither one of you wished me 'Happy Birthday,' but I hated you more
for it. I forgave him because once at half past midnight, I began to crave OJ after watching Louis C.K. have groceries delivered, so
he got out of bed and went to the store to get me some. Earlier that night, I'd seen a man laying dead on a Brooklyn street corner, face up, eyes open, clutching a bottle in his hand. When I'd drink two bottles by myself and call you crying weeks later, I would not be trying to drink myself to death. I'd be trying only to drown my heart.
confronted you about not wishing me 'Happy Birthday' when you finally
texted me three days later,
and you insisted that you didn't know, that I
never told you. I had sent you three snapchats that day: a bottle of wine
with the caption "Let the birthday celebrations begin!" just after
midnight; a picture of my food and friends with the caption "Birthday
Lunch"; a selfie in which I was wearing a birthday crown and flipping you off
because you'd opened both of the pictures before, but still hadn't bothered to
say anything. A few weeks prior, I had specifically made it a point to
tell you that my birthday party was on June 29th because I would leave for Italy a couple of days after, but my real birthday was July 6th.
I made it a point to tell you because I wanted you to remember.
There are things that we both could have done differently. I'll be
the first to admit that I spent a lot of time fighting with myself and
trying to push you away, even though I never wanted to be without you.
For the pure reason I would never imagine that I could be, or try to be,
or choose to be in love with you, I can confidently say that I almost
loved you. In the little moments after I finally got home from Italy and
we started to spend all of our time together, I felt myself almost slip
and say so, often. One night we laid in your bed, you rubbing the skin
on my arm and looking down at me, and you sighed and said, "For months,
I've been imagining what it'd be like when you finally came back, and
now you're here." The first thought that came to my mind
was, "I missed you, and I love you."
I remember the
look you gave me that night as your thumb brushed the skin along my hip, and I
remember that I have never felt so adored. Many men had looked through me that way before, but you looked at me. Monday night looked through me that way as he held my hand across the dinner table, while I was too drunk, too desperate for affection to remember or care about my typical first date no-contact rule. But Monday night saw me all dolled up, throwing out my most impressive, intelligent conversation, skillfully navigating my sushi even though I confessed I wasn't a huge fan.
However you, you knew how to look at me because you know that I'm not as adventurous as I sometimes make myself out to be. The first date we had after the first time we stopped seeing each other, you took me to a fancy French brasserie where everything on the menu was bone marrow or Branzino. I looked at you and said, "I know you're trying to make it up to me, but I would've much rather preferred McDonald's." You took me to a lot of nice places, and I usually offered to split or foot the bill because I
never expected or relied on you to pay for anything, but you always insisted.
Maybe it's your pride: the fact you are a man in your 30s with a
stable career in law, and I'm just a college student.
One night out, we had an argument about some
guy trying to dance with me, then got Drunk
McDonald's together to talk it out. You had tried to walk away from me at least five times that night but I wouldn't let you, though you tried your best to hurt me. You accused me of only wanting attention, and I did, from you. Your friends had been hitting on me and you let them, told them I was fair game. I didn't understand why you wouldn't claim me at least from them, nevermind the rest of the world. But you hadn't let me walk away from you before and I wasn't used to men who wanted me to stay. In line, you looked at me and
said, "I miss you already." That ended up being the most emotion I would ever see from you. At the cashier, I already had my credit card out and said, "I've got it." Mockingly, you replied, "Oh, you're going to pay for this expensive meal?" I cried, and you paid.
You looked at me sitting in a packed fast food chain at 2AM with
mascara everywhere, and mayonnaise from my McChicken on the corners of my
mouth. In that moment, when you told me I was
beautiful, you wholeheartedly believed it. I apologised
and apologised and
apologised and apologised, until you finally told me to stop. It was
fine in the morning, but "I love you" never came close to slipping
out of my subconscious again.
I hope that this is more eloquent than the pages of texts that I would send you explaining myself and profusely apologising every time we
fought. I hope this is more eloquent than the emotional outburst I had the last time we ever saw one another. A few days prior, I had lamented that we'd never spent a Sunday
morning together, and my happiness to finally spend that insignificant measure of time with you was pouring out of my heart in kisses to your forehead and hugs to your neck. I was ordering
breakfast from Seamless on your phone, taking too long to decide whether I wanted sausage or bacon on my bagel, when Amy texted you about your dinner date that
night. I took a long time trying to figure out how to react, because we
weren't together, but we had been talking about it so often and for so long, I had no doubt that we would be together eventually. I had
already stopped seeing everyone else, and it was heartbreaking to see that you
It would have hurt me much less if you hadn't been texting Amy while I was sitting in your lap, and earlier that morning when I refused to get out of bed and you didn't sleep in with me. My heart broke because you had probably been texting her last night in the cab home, when you had been on your phone for so long that I finally interjected - "Hey, why don't you spend a little time with me?" It was betrayal even if we had no formal
relationship to betray. I tried to explain this to you through my tears,
and you eventually got so tired of looking at me, raw me, that you completely stopped listening. You turned away, opened your laptop and began responding to your e-mails. In your inbox I saw something from
one of your exes who had recently been reaching out to you, titled "Day 10 Poem."
I hope this is more eloquent that the text I sent you after I left that Sunday
morning, explaining that I had been
going through a lot lately, and maybe if we finally decided to
really be together, I'd be at ease. I told you I would give you your
space, I apologised as I always did too much, and promised that I wouldn't text you
unless you texted me.
I hope this is more eloquent than the picture I scribbled to you on snapchat, after I deleted your number to force myself to make good on my promise. Maybe if I had been more eloquent then, I would have heard back from you.
I hope this is more eloquent than the
e-mail that I finally sent you two weeks later, because I still didn't have
your number and my message was too long to snapchat. I explained that I
just wanted to say goodbye; since you had never said anything to me, I
didn't get the chance. More than anything, I was looking for closure. I was working towards forgetting my heartbreak, or at least being able to function
through it. I guess eventually, every woman e-mails her own sort of
Day 10 Poem to someone who she almost loves.
Wednesday, I e-mail you again: To hell with eloquence. I demand that you finally say goodbye to me, and mean it. I am afraid that one day I will have finally remembered how to enjoy myself, until you text me that you miss me and you're ready to talk. I'm afraid that I will give in, because how do you decide when to walk away from someone who you know you can love? I am afraid that even if I say goodbye to you and try to mean it, you will never say goodbye to me, and I will never have my peace. I will keep responding to your e-mails every time you have something to say to me, because I want to know what happened, and for you to communicate your emotions to me is rare. I am afraid that if you don't say goodbye, I will be at the mercy of your time and my own apologies, forever.
It is absolutely your fault that you didn't remember my
birthday, that you never apologised for anything, and that you went silent on me every time we had a fight instead of communicating with me, even when I begged you to. But I have grown to see that we were never right for each other, and that is not your fault.
Today, I am done blaming you for our fundamental incompatibility. I know that someone will be able to love you in a way that I couldn't...but I do not want you to find love yet. Today, I am still bitter despite myself, because I almost loved you, and you broke my heart.