To The First Person I’ve Ever Loved

image - Flickr / Leo Hidalgo
image – Flickr / Leo Hidalgo

I spent many years convinced that I would never love another person. It was fiction to me—I truly believed that. It’s very typical of me to try and conceal things, not only from other people, but from myself as well. The other day, I made a promise that I would not lie to myself anymore, and I’ve forced myself to admit it: I still think about you all the time. But all of these months that I’ve spent feeling angry or upset suddenly seemed so wasteful. I’m not angry, and I’m not upset — I’m thankful.

I remember how much I looked forward to a text from you every day, how I always got one, and how my perception of the day changed once I saw your name show up on my phone. I remember every time you laughed at something I said, and every time you told me I was funny. I remember the first time we met down to every single little detail, no matter how irrelevant.

The first time I was properly introduced to you was at an Alkaline Trio show. At that point I had watched your own band play countless times and could put a name to your face, but you hardly ever crossed my mind. My attention was focused on someone else, someone who happened to be in the same band, and he was a big part of the reason I ended up at the show that night. Later on, you told me the first time you knew you were interested in me was at that show when you noticed I knew every word to every song Alkaline Trio played that night; they were your favorite band at the time. I never forgot that. I was so glad to have been infatuated enough with your friend to go because it eventually led me to you. He and I found each other in the crowd and he introduced us. You told me your name, but I already knew. We talked a little over the summer after you gave me your number, but only for a few days, or weeks—I don’t recall. Later that year, somehow, we began to talk a lot. I went to your band’s final show and you kissed me on the cheek and I remember feeling as if I could melt. You were always so cool about everything. I’ve never known anyone to be so confident and humble at the same damn time. I had practically forgotten all about your friend, who told me a few months prior that he was in love with someone else.

In the three or four short months we were seeing each other, I began to care about you in a way that I never had before, and haven’t come close to since. I’d noticed the pattern you had with girls, but I paid no mind to it. I didn’t listen to myself when I saw you flirting with other girls online, or when you regularly started to ignore some of my texts. I made excuses, one after another, because I was afraid of what I knew was going to happen next.

I don’t like to think about the way you stopped talking to me abruptly one day. I don’t like to think about that last day in the parking lot of your apartment building when I asked if I was going to see you soon, and the quick “yep” I got in return as you turned away from me and rushed back inside. I like to think about the time I felt confident in the way I knew you felt about me. I like to think about you turning up 3Oh!3 in my car and both of us genuinely enjoying it, even if it wasn’t as ironic as it should have been; and every time you would lean close to me and whisper “Please hold my hand…” when we would be walking, or “Please pay attention to me,” if something that wasn’t you caught my attention for a minute. I like to think about us hurrying back to my car after seeing a terrible scary movie, trying desperately to warm up, when you looked at me and asked if you could kiss me as if we had never kissed before, as if you were afraid I would turn you down. You never once truly believed I would turn you down.

I like to think about our first date—the first date I ever went on—about you giving that homeless man in Detroit $10 for a meal and then apologizing for it as if I would have minded, or you dragging me through the halls of the DIA, or you paying for a taxi to take us two blocks down the street because we had no clue where we were. I like to think about you making fun of me in the parking deck that night when I referred to my mittens as “Kitten Mittons” because we both loved It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.

I loved how easy it was for you to get excited about something. I remember going to your apartment one of those very first nights. I remember the Daft Punk cardboard cutout you and your roommate had in the living room and the endless rows of vinyl you had both collected that you seemed so proud of. In your room, you opened your closet to reveal dozens upon dozens of movies. You went through them for such a long time. You would pull one out and hand it to me and ask if I’d seen it, and every time I said no, your eyes would get huge. You couldn’t believe it. “Are you kidding me?!” You gave me a few movies to take home and watch: The Royal Tenenbaums, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and Can’t Hardly Wait. I watched them all that same night.

I remember a specific night in particular when we planned to watch the last two episodes of Breaking Bad. You had watched them already, but you wanted to be with me when I did. I saved them until the next time I saw you, despite how desperately I wanted to watch. We turned out the lights and you were lying behind me with your arm draped over my shoulder. The episode continued on, but I was more focused on the way your breath felt on my neck. I still can’t recall everything that happened during that episode. It finally ended, but you didn’t budge. Your arm was heavy and I couldn’t bring myself to move you. I didn’t want to. I think I have never felt happier than I did in that moment. I lifted your arm gently and turned myself around to face you. You woke up slowly, completely embarrassed about having fallen asleep. You buried your face in your arms. It was so goddamn cute.

The worst part is thinking about all of these little things and how much they meant to me, how much they still mean to me, and knowing that you probably don’t even remember half of them. I’ve come to terms with it, even though I still get excited every time you wave to me at a show or favorite a tweet of mine. Now I feel as if I’m just going through the motions with other guys, and part of me thinks I’m trying (however pathetically) to recreate you in other people.

You taught me about love and heartbreak, even if I was just another girl to you. It’s hard to see someone else making me as happy as you did, and it’s even harder to see you making another girl happy the way you did for me, even after almost a year has passed since we stopped seeing each other. I think part of me will always love you, and I wish so much that I could have been enough. Regardless of everything, I’m glad that we happened, even though I will never let you know just how much. TC mark

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