“I’m sorry,” you said, “I’m interested in you but I’m just not looking for a relationship right now. I’ve got a lot to think about and I don’t know where I will be.”
“It’s okay. I don’t know where I will be either,” I replied, shrugging.
“Well, then what are you looking for?”
So, this is the big question, isn’t it? What am I looking for?
Something serious? A boyfriend? Long-term relationships? Heck, a husband? Marriage? Kids?
Or maybe just a good time, like dating you? Date you then be a cold bitch and walk away when you decide it’s time to end?
Or should I say, something casual? Everyone is doing casual nowadays. Casual is like hanging out, having fun, no strings attached. And yes, fuck. Do everything you would do in a relationship, but casually.
Sorry. I don’t think that’s for me. I don’t like to be treated as casual. I want to feel special and cared for. I’m not the chill girl. I can’t just switch it off and pretend like whatever we do is nothing. I will grow feelings for the people I become intimate with. I will think about the times we spend together, the small things they do that show me they care, the words they say, the jokes they make, and all the marks on their body to which my touch feels home. I will miss them and I will be crushed when I realize they don’t want me the same way and they will never want me enough to do something about us.
I don’t understand casual either because agreeing to be casual means I’m not allowed any of this even though they are just as real as my flesh and bone. I don’t have a name for us. I can’t tell anyone about us. I don’t even have the right to grief over the ending of whatever it is we were doing and my feelings are deemed illegitimate. Then I will think I’m ridiculous for being bothered by all this because we weren’t anything and he acted like he couldn’t care less. I will hate myself for being not chill enough. I will be ashamed of feeling, of missing, of being me.
Then I guess if I don’t want casual, I should be looking for a relationship. Well, honestly, I don’t know. What do relationships mean these days anyway? Sometimes I don’t see the point of having relationships at this young age. The reason is simple: I won’t settle down any time soon and I know I will change a lot in a few years, which means relationships established now will have an expiration date and heartbreaks are foreseen. Plus, at 21, I have so many other things to figure out, like what I want to do with my life or simply the question of who I’m as an individual.
Really, what am I looking for? What are we, the early-20-something kids, looking for?
I have thought hard and I might never have the right answers but if there is something I know for sure, it is that in our early 20s, we don’t think about spouses and marriage. Maybe some of us do but collectively we don’t. We don’t look at people and fantasize about buying a house and having babies. Perhaps what we think about is so much more simple than that.
We want company, we want support, we want good morning texts, we want unexpected phone calls, we want plans to be made and dinners for two, and maybe we want love if we ever know what that word means at all. We want to have someone there for us and with us — someone we adore and who adores us too. We want to feel all these incredible feelings when our hand and our body are intertwined with this person’s. We think about how to spend every waking minute with them, doing everything and nothing at all, for as long as possible…
We want to be remembered.
So do I. At 21, I’m not looking for a serious relationship to be married. I’m looking for human connections. I’m looking for… us. Something like us. Everything we did together. Our silliness, our drunkenness, our looks exchanged. Then whether they turn into something more or not, I will let it be. That’s why I’m not upset that we met, we spent time and then we ended like how temporary everything in life is — I’ve already accepted that. I just find it hard because you were so good at this, at being casual, like we were nothing and you felt nothing, and yet, what you felt was all what ever matters to me.
Not labels. Not boyfriends. Not relationships. But you and whether you ever think about me at all.
Ask me again what I’m looking for. I will tell you that I was looking for the signs from you – a text message, a phone call, a few spoken words just to let me know I was missed and we were remembered, and maybe that you were feeling something too and surely it doesn’t need to be anything so serious. I just don’t want us and our shared time, though short, to become non-existent because, hey boy, you do mean something to me.