I recently broke up with someone because he was moving 3,000 miles away by way of America in a Jeep packed with all of his belongings. We cared about each other, but not enough for one of us to stay or follow.
Our last day together is in New York. He drops me off at the airport. I hold on for too long hoping he’ll say what I want to hear. He kisses me hard and watches me walk into the Jet Blue terminal. While I wait for my plane to board he tweets, “’My Heart Will Go On’ just came on in Gabby’s. I’m trapped in a bagel shop of emotion.”
During my flight he posts a psychedelic cat GIF on my Facebook wall. I laugh and text him a picture of a penguin, an inside joke referring to his inability to talk about his feelings.
I’m crying on the edge of his bed the day he quits his job. Plans are falling into place and I am falling out of plans.
“Why wont you say something? You are obviously upset, too. Look at me — say something. Literally, say anything.”
“Say anything? Penguin. Happy?” We laugh. We make up. We go out and meet our friends as if nothing is wrong.
I call him two days later, tipsy enough to admit that I miss his voice, and he doesn’t answer. He checks in to a pizza place in Adams Morgan on foursquare.
He drives across Ohio and plays the Summer Heat song I made him listen to in New York. At work, my 21-year-old intern asks me who the cute boy is on my Facebook. I nonchalantly respond, “Which one?”
That night I re-watch the homemade “Call Me Maybe” video he sent me the first weekend we spent apart after we started seeing each other.
I see a pair of sunglasses that remind me of him. They are bright orange, like the ones I stole from him on our last day together.
“I forgot my blanket in your car,” I say aloud, my face still pressed to his chest. I have left small stains of mascara and salt water on his sternum.
“I’m sorry,” he replies. I know in that moment I will never see my Emerson College Alumni blanket again.
“I’ll send it you if you want… but can I still have my sunglasses back?”
I pause and look up at him.
I cough up the nine dollars and send them to him in Denver. He posts a picture of himself wearing them in a car window on Instagram. He also posts a picture of him and his friends drinking at the house of a girl he hooked up with in college.
I get a post card from him in Montana. He said he was sending it the week before, but he had a tendency to over-promise and under-deliver. I told myself I wouldn’t believe it until I saw it and here it is — a post card — how rustic! I see it sitting on my dining room table and I am actually giddy to read it. It has two sentences on it and a handwritten YouTube video link.
He gives me advice about OS X Mountain Lion. We both comment on a mutual friend’s foursquare check-in. I am camping in Western Massachusetts and post a picture on Facebook of a guy friend wearing his hat. He texts me, “Do you do this on purpose?”
We are just friends. I can’t decide if he’s weird or funny or both. I send him things online and base my opinion of him by what he likes and doesn’t like.
“Did you like that [popular meme of the moment] I sent you?” I ask him. It’s been two days and he hasn’t mentioned it yet.
“I like everything you send me.”
We don’t talk.
“Ex-boy-thing-who-moved-across-the-country started following all of your boards on Pinterest. You might want to follow Ex-boy-thing back.”
It’s 2 a.m. and he Gchats me; he’s lost my HuluPlus password and needs it. He gives me his Xfinity password and I consider this a fair trade. I tell him to call me in the daylight hours.
I get him on the phone on his way from Portland to San Francisco for two hours. It is about an hour and 45 minutes longer than healthy. I am aware of how awkward the goodbye is — the situation is too familiar and comfortable for exes who are trying to be friends. After we hang up, he ignores me for seven days. When he finally makes contact, it is in a Facebook message.
A week of silence has given me a lot to think about. He calls. I tell him I don’t think we should talk for a while — that I am forcing a friendship I’m not ready to have. I tell him I will call him when I am ready and he is cruel in return. “Well, if you need to take a break from our friendship, you obviously have a lot more feelings about us than I do.”
Maybe he is right. I block him on Facebook. The next day he adds an Electric Youth song to our shared Spotify playlist.
“And you, and you, are the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”