I knew I was in love with him because everything he did was perfection. The way he’d puff his cheeks out while shaving, slowly pulling the razor across his skin. The way he’d take his time pulling on his shirt, even if we were in a rush. The way he’d fold his clothes so carefully while packing for a trip, each pile so neat despite that fact that nothing else around it was. How he would browse through records, carefully thumbing through each one in front of him. The way he’d make a turn while driving, concentrating on every move, even with one hand on my knee. Everything he did he did slowly and gently, with care. I never appreciated that at that time – never even noticed it really — and I never realized how much I’d miss it now that he’s gone.
I loved him too much, really. I looked at him as if he was the one who put the stars in the sky, as if he built the pyramids with his bare hands, as if he held the answer to the meaning of life of his back pocket. How much I loved him was obvious in the way I looked at him even when he wasn’t looking at me, the way I studied his face, his eyes, his smile. It was the way I listened to his favorite classic rock station without complaining, because, towards the end, I had grown to like it. It was the way I kissed between his shoulder blades in the early hours of the morning, before either the sun or he was up. It was the way I sat through Episodes I through VI of Star Wars and let him explain all the theories that came along with the movies, not because I cared but because I loved how excited he got, the childish innocence gleaming in his eyes. It was the way I connected the beauty marks on his back with my finger, making constellations, slowly, softly kissing each and every one.
I know he loved me. It was obvious in the little things he did. It was the way he’d throw his arm out when I’d begin to cross the street without looking both ways. The way he kept a napkin from the different sushi places we’d try out. How he’d always speed up when we drove over the train tracks near his house, because he knew crossing them built my anxiety. The way he’d smile at me as I rambled on about something so incredibly mundane I bored even myself. It was the way he’d playfully cover the music ID in the car whenever a Pink Floyd song was on and ask me if I knew who the artist was, and it was the look of pride when I guessed correctly. It was the way he’d diffuse my anxiety with a single hug and the way he sat through episode after episode of Grey’s Anatomy, despite his hate for McDreamy. It was how he held me when I was having a bad day, and it was how he kissed the top of my head even when I took out my stress unfairly on him.
I know he loved me but I also know his love is past tense. Loved. It’s hard to wrap my mind around — loved, not loves. Was, not is. Once, not always. It was perfect until it wasn’t anymore. It didn’t happen slowly over time — or at least it didn’t for me. Instead of slowly running out of gas and breaking down on the side of the highway, it came to a sharp, screeching halt, and I was thrown forward, the bite of the seatbelt the only thing I felt as it cut into my chest, holding me back.
As it turns out, towards the end, we weren’t even driving in the same car. He had his, and I had mine, two separate vehicles. I crashed, totaling my heart and our life together, but he drove away, avoiding the wreckage completely unscathed. I know he loved me but I also know he does not anymore, and nothing I say, do or write can change that. All I can do now is try to accept it.