The night I met you, I was wrong about love.
I thought love was hard and tiring. I thought it left dark circles under your eyes and miserable bruises inside and out. I thought for certain that love wasn’t worth it.
The first time I saw you, you were on stage, hosting a comedy open mic at a bar near Boston called Sally O’Brien’s. I was a college senior who’d been doing stand up for four months. I’d heard your mic was “friendly” and the word had struck me. When you’re just starting out in comedy, “friendly” is not how you’d describe any open mic.
I stood alone in the back. You weren’t doing material; just riffing and talking to the small crowd. There was a spotlight on you because of the stage lighting, but I would have imagined one anyway.
You were brilliant — the sharpest person I’d ever seen; So natural and funny and perfect, it was like watching who I wanted to be. As a new comedian, my hands still shook on the microphone, I felt like vomiting before every show and I hardly deviated from my tightly-written five minutes. And there you were, looking like you were born on stage. Your face was so open, your humor so quick, your laugh so genuine. You were happiness personified. A human cupcake.
One night, in the beginning of our relationship, I cried because I found out that you’d lived a few streets away from me while I’d dated my abusive ex. Do you remember that?
It was because I kept thinking I’d wasted so much time being sadness personified and trying to make that terrible relationship work, and there you’d been, the whole time, so close to me. I didn’t need you and I wasn’t looking for you, but when you finally arrived — when I saw you? It was like I should have known all along.
‘If I’d only looked harder,’ I said, ‘maybe I would have found you sooner.’
Maybe I wouldn’t have been ready.
I thought about myself back then and it seemed ridiculous that I had no idea we’d ever be together; I’d cared about all the wrong things when it came to love. I wanted to go back in time and drag my younger self over to your house and say, “This is what love is. Stop being stupid.”
That night at Sally O’s, you gave me your business card and said to e-mail you. I overheard you telling someone that you needed to get home to cook for your girlfriend. I thought, “He’s so wonderful. He’ll probably marry that girl.”
The night we met, I thought about the faceless girlfriend who deserved someone like you. I went home to my lonely apartment, drank red wine, and wrote some of my tedious senior thesis.
I thought I’d go back to that open mic next week. I went to sleep thinking you were nice and smart and most of all: too good for me.