Last Christmas, I did a crazy thing.
I hopped into my car at a quarter to midnight, drove, and told a boy I was “in love” with him in my car.
I told you it was crazy.
This night was a life-changing, monumental, now memory in my twenty-one years of breathing.
It was a pre-meditated choice, one that I had thought out for quite some time; though the “I am in love with you” was never planned, everything else had been…
Let me explain.
I was O-V-E-R playing games, since that is all we had been good at apparently. I decided that I deserved an answer- whether there was a future here or not. I decided that it was time I finally took control of this situation. Long story short, we don’t always get answers, even when we think we deserve them. We’re not supposed to understand everyone or their actions. Sometimes we have to create our own closure. You think people owe you their words, but they don’t.
I’m one that is better at explaining things on paper. But, even writing down the god awful truth of my feelings, I knew I was never going to get anything that I wanted out of it. Sometimes, you know the answers, ones you don’t want to believe. But, ultimately, that hurts you more. Deep down, you will always know. It’s whether you’re capable of letting yourself acknowledge the truth or stay in denial of it.
So I had this whole thing planned. He had asked me to come over on Christmas. I accepted, thinking how “important” it was that he had asked a girl to come over on Christmas. It wasn’t a big deal though to him.
I thought long and hard about what the consequences could be if I was honest. I knew that it could not go the way I had anticipated. But, I only thought about the possibilities I was interested in. I didn’t weigh out that, potentially, this could end sour. So when it did end sour, (oops sorry, spoiler alert)- I was blindsided by the results.
That week we had been in contact, almost everyday. We both had anticipation to see one another since it had been weeks since we had been acquainted. I had missed him so much. But I learned that I missed someone, who no longer existed. Someone, I believed was still there, but ultimately grew up. I thought of you in memories, bit and pieces, never realizing that we’re much more than them. I spent hours scribbling what I could say. Somehow, I managed to pull some two page, hand written letter out of it all. I kept it in my pocket the whole time.
So it was Christmas and plans were arranged that I would go over. And so, I looked in the mirror before I left knowing that I would come back in one of two ways- heartbroken or on cloud nine. I sprayed my perfume on the back of my neck, through my hair, and cleaned myself up a bit. I wanted him to remember the way I looked when I read this.
I took a hard look at myself, and I knew that it was now or never. I didn’t want to enter into the new year with the same apprehensive, hesitant, uneasy mindset because of some boy. I had been dealing with this wonder for years and never fully got anything from it. I wanted to know if he felt the same, as he once had. I wanted to know if we could give it a try. I wanted to know that there was something worth fighting for, that I was worth fighting for. I wanted to know that I meant something to someone, because at the time I meant nothing to myself.
I was so fixated on the idea that it could work, that we could be something. The idea of it never working out, didn’t cross my mind. And if it did, I swept it under the rug. We had history, no doubt. But, it was old. We weren’t the same people anymore. I hardly knew who he was, but at the time I thought I did. I thought I knew everything. But, I couldn’t even name you his first grade teacher or his aunt’s name. I never knew those things. I knew him in a time, when I was very hurt. I had confided in this person through the deepest struggles at that time in my life. He helped me.
He was there for me when I had no one. I felt dependent on him because he made me happy, at moments- others, not so much. I held onto this for too long, thinking that he could solve everything that I couldn’t. That is crazy, now that I think of it. What’s worse is, he had no idea the effect he had- which is sad. You think you know someone so well, and they surprise you, and they hurt you. But, in the end, you realize you manifested this whole thing, that you really can’t blame him for everything. Sometimes, it’s no one fault, you just want to put it on someone else.
Whenever an opportunity arose to see him, I latched onto it because I knew he was capable of making me think I was happy. I’ve come to know that what I felt all that time was not happiness at all. Any time I would see him I would be insulted in a joking manner that was never really funny. I used to feel so comfortable around him but my insecurities just grew when he was in the picture. I used someone else to try and make me love myself. I truly believed that if he could love me, then I could love myself too. I needed someone else to show me my self-worth.
Back to Christmas- I went to see him. It was wonderful, his smile, his laugh- it was all wonderful. I don’t remember much of what was said, until the end. But, everything leading up to it was beautiful. He was just as I had remembered him. It felt like nothing had changed, but everything really had. The night was coming to a close, and I was about to hit the stage with this jaw-dropping finale that no one would see coming.
He walked me to my car, how sweet I had thought- a boy that new how to treat a girl. I asked him if he could talk for a few minutes in my car. He should have run while he could, but he stayed. I don’t know why you ever stayed.
I sat there, staring at the streetlight switch from yellow to red. I had to say something. I had to stop over-thinking and replaying every scenario in my head, wondering what it meant, trying to decipher mixed signals. The answer was right in front of me.
I told him I had been meaning to say something for a while and I didn’t know how to put it. I said something charming like “I’m a writer so I wrote it for you.”
He wanted to read the letter, but I was on a roll and I told him I would do it for him.
I was already in tears at this point, but somehow I managed to read it. My hands were shaking; you could hear the paper crinkling from the motion of my palms. I could barely see as it was so dark out, but I knew everything I had to say. It was memorized in my mind for so long, so many times I had wanted to ask but I never had the courage. I spit my words out faster than I could breathe. It went something like:
“I just need answers even if they are all no, because I have been wondering for years. I may have false hope about a lot of them, but maybe if I heard the truth I could get on with my life.
When I met you, we instantly became such great friends and that is what we were for quite some time. You were my best friend. And you know how the rest goes…
Time went by without us speaking and I thought we were never going to speak again, but I was wrong…and that’s how the story has been for the past 2, 3 years…
But somehow we always come back into each other’s lives- and I guess my biggest question is why?
I just can’t go into the new year with this same issue and wonder. I’ve been wondering when I am going to get a text from you saying you miss me or something along those lines. I can’t keep wondering all the time if there is something really here or if I am just holding onto something I wish would’ve happened years ago.
So if there is any truth or any answer, even if it is going to hurt me, I need to hear it because all this wonder has made me insane, its held me back in more ways than I could have ever imagined.
I don’t expect you to say ‘Yeah I want to be with you, right now this second’ because the likelihood of that is slim, but if there is this feeling really deep inside you, maybe you’ve been holding it back, but now is your time to say it because if you can’t say anything to me then all I can say to you is goodbye.”
There was a lot more to it- but you get the point. The ending couldn’t be more dramatic right? I look back now and read this and I seriously laugh. Who would have the nerve to say this? Apparently, me.
After I finished reading, we both just sat there. I’m surprised he didn’t open the door right then and there and dash out.
“Say something, please.” I was begging for anything.
He didn’t know what to say.
“I didn’t see this coming.”
Well, I would have hoped not.
He sat there, his eyes were completely out of his sockets. He was so confused by what I had just said. I was trying to hold back my tears waiting for what seemed to be a life or death answer.
Instead he went with:
“Are you in love with me?”
What the- yeah I know I was the one now that was being blindsided.
Of course I did- I thought I did. We had said “I love you” before, we’re talking years back. But the context of it wasn’t really in a great way I suppose. It was more of a childish “I love you”. It was never “I am in love with you.” I didn’t realize how much of a difference the two were. Two people can love one another and not be in love with them.
You can love someone forever. You can love someone and still be hurt. You can still love someone and be in love with someone else. Being in love with someone- that’s tricky because now I’ve come to realize I wasn’t in love with him. I was in love with the idea of it. I’ll always love the boy he once was, but I was sitting next to a stranger.
I never had thought of it until he asked. I thought he was asking because he was going to tell me he was in love with me, that I was “it”, and he had been thinking the same thing- you know the fairy tale happy ending that I engraved in my mind.
That didn’t make the cut.
“Yes. Yea I am in love with you.”
What a fucking idiot I was.
In that moment, I didn’t realize what I had just said or done. That moment changed everything for me. It was clear indication of how enwrapped I was in wanting something, someone who wasn’t mine.
I know I could have been so good to you, but instead I’ve been able to be good to myself. That’s what I was truly missing, that was the void I wasn’t letting myself fill. No amount of love from you would ever be able to measure the feeling I have now. I know, now, more than ever how important the value of self-love is.
I don’t know what you said. Honestly, the whole night and memory has come back to me in bits and pieces. Does that ever happen to you? One day, you just wake up and you’re able to account for forgotten words. It all adds up and makes sense somehow.
I think you ran your fingers through your hair, trying to brush this off. But, for myself, I wasn’t able to. You saw the pain in my eyes, how hurt I was. I think you felt truly sorry for me. I’ll never know though, what you thought or how you felt. Sometimes, in tests the answer could be a, b, c, or d, sometimes all of the above. But this was none of them.
“It’s just, so much has happened… I felt so deeply for you, but it was so long ago. I didn’t know you still felt like this. I didn’t know any of this. Why didn’t you tell me?”
I sat there, tears strolling down my chin blaming myself.
“I’ve been wanting to tell you. But then, it just got complicated. We’d go in and out of speaking and I constantly wondered. I shouldn’t have said anything in the first place.”
I grabbed the letter and folded it up. I didn’t want to see it anymore. I wanted this to be over, but that night replayed in my head so many times for the next ten months.
“I want to be honest with you. I can’t, and I don’t want to be in a relationship with anyone. It’s not you. It’s just, relationships are so much more than you think. I’m not easy to be with. I probably don’t even deserve to be with you. But with school, and work, and the distance with us, I just can’t put myself through it again. I still want to see you. I want to take you out on dates, go to museums, go to dinner, see what happens, but I can’t promise or tell you an answer that I know you want to hear. There’s not always answers. Life is not black and white. Every action doesn’t have a motive behind it. Sometimes, things just are the way they are, not everything is to be understood. I’m sorry. I really am. I don’t want to lose you. But, I can’t hurt you anymore than I have without even knowing.”
At the time, I transcribed what you had said into my own interpretation. I literally thought you wanted to try. I thought that if I put in all my effort, time, care, that it would prove to you. I thought I had to prove myself to you. I thought that it was me. I blamed myself for being away. I blamed myself for never saying anything. All I thought and wanted to achieve was being worthy of you. I thought, if I could convince you to be with me, then I could convince myself to be truly happy.
I thought that this was an attainable goal. But, I quickly learned, that I was only headed farther down the rabbit hole of fascination with this. We bickered. I cried, and couldn’t look at you. I couldn’t see how someone was able to control every emotion that I could display. You repeated that you didn’t deserve me. You were right.
But it would take me until now to know that.
It was well after 2 a.m. There was nothing left to be said. We had been going at this for hours, but for me it was since the day I met you. I knew you would change my life, and that you did.
You told me something, I can’t remember what it was exactly. You spoke about not driving upset and turned my radio on.
“On My Mind” by Ellie Goulding was playing.
“Ah, what a song. Think of me when this plays. Please drive home safe, don’t cry or shit. Text me when you’re home so I know you’re safe.”
I hated him for ruining this song for me. But he was right. It perfectly described this moment.
He reached over to open the door, and his eyes gazed at mine. I looked at him so pathetically. Then you kissed me.
I don’t know why. I don’t know what brought you to this. But our lips touched, so softly, I felt so light in this dark scene. I watched you cross the street. I waited for the light to turn green. But even when it did, I couldn’t go. I couldn’t accept that it was truly over.
But was it?
Why would you kiss me but tell me you don’t deserve me?
I blasted music, hysterically singing aloud on the way back to tell my best friend. It didn’t seem real. It didn’t for a while.
I told you I got home, safely.
You told me what I said was “deep”. It was far from shallow, for sure.
You told me it was unexpected.
You told me that you didn’t want to lie, and hurt me more.
You told me we could continue being friends, and that hopefully you will fall in love with me the way I want you too.
You told me you want to love me the way I love you.
But you never could do such a thing.
You told me that so much has happened, since we closed the door on us, that there were gaps missing between us.
You told me that you hope if it’s not you, that someone else will make me feel comfortable and special and loved- because I “deserved” that.
You told me, again that you didn’t want a relationship but for the time being, I have a life long friendship with you, and that won’t change if I didn’t want it too.
You told me to smile. You told me how brave I was for reading this letter.
Finally, you told me that you don’t think you deserved to be loved the way I wrote about you, but it was still beautiful.
It was beautiful in the saddest way. It’s like you wanted me to keep reading, but the further I read, the more upsetting it became.
At the time, I thought this was great- you want to fall in love with me. You want to love me. You wanted to do all of these things, but you wouldn’t accomplish them. You said it, ‘if not me, someone else.’ Just that, someone else. You were right.
Someone else will love me, make me feel special, they will give me butterflies just as you have once done. It’s the hardest part of all of this- recognizing that what you actually said, was an easy way out. You sugar-coated the truth because you felt sorry for me. I don’t think you ever wanted to give me anything at all. I created my own closure. I know that someone else will want to and be able to do all of the things you never could. It’s sad, for sure, because I was rooting for you always. But, I’ve grown out of the person I was when I loved you, and you are no longer him.
We grow up. We realize that sometimes we miss the past more than we live in the present. It fucks with you. It makes you drive over to someone’s house on Christmas night and tell them you are in love with them, but that’s the farthest thing from love.
I will never forget this night, for it changed everything, in the most beautiful, saddest way.