I’ve seen the writing on the wall in almost every relationship I’ve had. It was that gut feeling, that innate sense people can never really explain, we just feel it. That something that told me to stop, or keep going. Don’t text back. Keep your distance. He doesn’t mean this, or maybe he does. He means it, so be careful. Like some lovestruck clairvoyant, I’ve predicted the outcome at every start.
Sometimes, I ignored that voice. It was this morbid talent, strangely contrasted with my dreamy romanticism. How badly I just wanted to love someone forever, and believe me, I would. I would love forever in a moment, but forever always had an expiration date. So whenever the foundation came crumbling apart, I’d remember what I ignored. That siren warning song, and I couldn’t even be mad. It was there. I had seen the signs.
But it didn’t warn me with you. Every piece of me wanted to fall so passionately, so unreservedly in love with you. The bad parts. The good. The night your knuckles were bleeding and I realized how much I cared about you. You rested your head on my chest and when I said I’d sleep on the couch, you said, “Please don’t.”
You made a joke of everything, and that was just part of your charm. The comedian in Hollywood I chose to see instead of studying for my History of Animation final. I would study your laugh lines instead. You’d remind me I was young, and like young girls do, I wanted to prove I was old enough to understand you. I think I was. I don’t think you understood you. But I did.
You held my face with both your hands and called me Green Eyes. You said you needed me and I folded straight into your arms. At that time, I needed you. Part of me is afraid I always will. Even when I fall in love again, I might still need you.
I never wanted to be someone who needed anyone. And I hadn’t, not really. Sure, I’d make bold claims and fill journals with poetry about the crashing and burning of past love. But that night in your bed, I wondered if I had even loved before you. Looking at you, I wanted to make up some new word. Love didn’t feel like enough. And it was gross and cheesy, and if I had said that thought out loud, you would have wrinkled your face. You would have kissed my forehead and told me I was dramatic. You would have sang that Frank Sinatra song with the wrong lyrics and I’d laugh. I’ve never laughed as hard as when I was with you.
I couldn’t foresee an ending with us, even though we never really had a beginning. I knew where we stood. We were friends. But the kind of friends who would laugh and shut down the bar. The kind of friends who would make fucked up jokes, but then sit in moments of truth and vulnerability. One time, you texted me, “I know this is lame. But your laugh is my favorite sound in the whole world.”
I read that text so many times. I read it before I went to sleep. I read it, hoping it was enough. Maybe that text was the tiny bit of hope I held onto far longer than I should have. I held on for so long. I moved away because I couldn’t let go.
You told me to come back. I didn’t. But now, when I’m in Los Angeles and I drive past your exit, my heart still lurches.
That whole town has your thumbprint. Barney’s. The frozen yogurt shop. Your street. The street that connects to your street. Even my college campus, when you rushed there after work to attend the open mic I helped host. Everything has parts of you, and us.
You were never mine. Not even close. I didn’t want you to be mine. I wanted you to be yours, and me to be mine. But maybe we’d share. There was no voice that told me otherwise. Even after the night I cried all the way home in the Uber, I still had hope.
I think that’s what made it so hard. I was so sure about you. I was so damn sure.