Break-Up Letter To A Girl I Never Actually Dated… Or Spoke To
Hey, it’s me. Oh come on, you remember me. I stared at you in the dining hall while you picked through the bananas? We almost talked at that house party with the cover band playing “Runaround,” but you left before I could shotgun enough liquid courage to approach you? You HAVE to remember the time I sorted through a mutual friend’s massive friend list just to figure out your name (affectionately referring to you as “Andrea II,” due to your resemblance to a previous girlfriend). Finding your Facebook was when we really got to know each other, and by that I mean I learned every detail about you I possibly could. I was fascinated to learn about your interest in photography and the outdoors, your family back in New York, and your sub-par taste in music (which I decided right then and there I was more than happy to put up with).
But everything froze then when I saw that you had a boyfriend. A dude studying at… some school in New York. A sigh of relief. A long-distance boyfriend. The freshman leap of faith that never fails to fail. I had been that long-distance boyfriend myself, and I watched it fall apart. I knew in some dark, reciprocal way, the same would happen to you, as repayment for my lost love. I smugly laughed to myself as I clicked “back,” returning to your profile, where I knew I would soon gain full access as a result of our inevitable first meeting, where I’d woo you with cynical social commentary and eventually bring you home to my loft. It would be a refreshing change of scenery from the dorms, and you’d feel a sense of belonging as I held you under my sheets, staring at the ceiling, wide awake, reflecting on how well my plans had come together.
Then I came across something that interrupted my dark, twisted fantasy (the one I was previously having, not the Kanye album). It was an untitled photo album of you and this guy together doing various things — building a blanket fort, standing on top of a building, a modest kiss. I saw something in these pictures that I instantly recognized as something I had not felt in some time: raw happiness. You were happy. Really, truly happy. Setting my computer down on my bed, I lay back for a second to think about this, and then I cried. I don’t know if it was the overwhelming realness of your happiness, my own sense of lost hope, or my then-recent dabbling with MDMA, but I definitely cried. Hard.
I got drunk, I listened to sad asshole music, I stood on my fire escape staring at the moon as if something important and leveling would enter my head like the last few lines of a Bukowski poem where you come to understand love, life, or something else. Nothing. Nothing happened except the passing of time and I realized I had to sleep. The next morning, I woke up feeling terrible and as though I had lost my sense of purpose. Internet stalking and empty hope based on my own over-abundance of confidence was a pretty bullshit purpose, but it was what I was working with.
Over the course of the next week or so, I guess I just sort of accepted it. Not in a “there’s nothing I can do now” sort of way, but in an “at least you’re happy” sort of way. I would probably just mess things up and make you unhappy or let you down eventually anyhow, right? Right. I returned to the prowl, went back to a place where I could have physical encounters with a girl and not imagine they were you (not that I did that because that would be totally fucked). Everything was fine, or as fine as they could be, but then something changed. When I had almost forgotten the crushing realization that you were already fulfilled/ gotten distracted by my own new aimless relationship, I saw you again. You were with someone. Only it wasn’t the guy I had seen in pictures, smiling with you and your family in some obscure wintery New York town on Christmas morning. It was some arrogant looking fuck with a five o’clock shadow. In what was one of the most unique combinations of vicarious bitterness and confusion I had ever felt, I summoned every last bit of restraint I had to resist walking right up to you and getting to the bottom of this nonsense.
But who was I fighting for? Me? Your man back home — surely crushed with the same intense passion I had felt for you? I didn’t even know what your voice sounded like, and had suffered a debilitating let down. This dude actually HAD you, then apparently lost you to this guy who looked more smug than that dude in Gladiator who gets stabbed in the throat. No way was he anything but ruined. And it was all this guy’s fault. He didn’t know you, not like we did (I had made an alliance with your ex-boyfriend, it was sort of an unspoken agreement between us). Then I realized how long ago my thought process had become completely derailed. I was analyzing this three-part relationship that I had somehow convinced myself I was the fourth member of. I didn’t know any of you and had no knowledge of the situation I was so dead set on making right.
Well, I think we need to talk. Or I guess I need to talk, because we’ve still never talked. But it’s time we do, at least hypothetically. I spent the larger part of my senior year of college wondering just how the stars would align so we could be together forever. I KNEW it would happen, I just wasn’t sure how (surely fate would take care of this for me). Finding subtle ways to disclose my suppressed affection to my friends who could care less was a main priority, right up there with scanning every party and bar for your face, which was ingrained in my head in the form of your most recent profile picture.
I remember the last time I saw you. I was sitting outside a coffee place with one of my friends and you walked past moments after I had reiterated this entire story to said friend. You gave me the sort of look that suggested maybe my months of fixation had finally amounted to the slightest bit of recognition, but I also had accidently shaved off a patch of my pineapple haircut the night before and was wearing a black sweatshirt in June because it was my last day of college finals ever and I mean, whatever, right? I realized it didn’t matter what I thought, or what you thought, or what your new man thought, or what your loving parents thought, or what your dog Zahzee thought. None of it. I was graduating college in a few days and would probably never see you again.
I want to thank you for all the great times we had. Or the great times I had imagining the great times we would have had. I learned more from you than any other stranger I’ve never met before, and whether you end up with that new dude or some other dude who looks like an asshole from a Russell Crowe movie, I hope you are completely and unbearably happy for as long as possible (just don’t sleep with my best friend like you did in the most traumatizing dream I’ve ever had a few nights ago). Oh, and I saw those “modeling” pictures you did on Facebook through friends of mutual friends. I couldn’t handle looking at them more than once. You don’t need to show yourself off like that. You are a babe worthy of mentally incapacitating someone you’ve never met for an embarrassingly long amount of time. Take care.
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It’s so hard for me not to let what other people say about me define who I am.
I should eat an entire sleeve of saltines (and a brownie).
Forget answering: my salary is ________. This is about all the little things that you think are your preferences but were actually given to you like gifts.
7. Visiting the beautiful Milwaukee Art Museum.