I would have moved to Ohio for him.
Ohio isn’t bad, really. There’s a really big zoo, almost like an amusement park, with penguins, and baby otters and sometimes they let you pet them. Did you know Ohio also has a gigantic Budweiser factory? That’s pretty cool, because beer is tasty and kind of like eating a loaf of bread, only way more fun. Ohio has the kind of quiet that New York could never have, a sharp stillness that makes you uneasy once you get used to the sounds of wailing sirens and revving engines and the harsh rattle of a train under your feet. Ohio has a tiny, multi-colored ranch house with icicles hanging from the roof that I used to like to pull off and aim at him like they were magic wands. It has a fireplace, and a waterbed, and a car that stalls in the driveway because he was too stubborn to buy a sensible vehicle equipped for Midwestern snowfall. It has a boy with red hair and a shawl sweater who promised to always be honest with me, who told me I was not allowed to be afraid to tell him exactly how I was feeling. It has a boy who told his sister that I was the girl he was going to marry.
It has the boy who broke up with me by removing our relationship status on Facebook.
There were no words. No explanation. Certainly no closure. Just a quick text from him on a Monday afternoon — “call me later, babe,” — and then nothing. Text after text, call after call, with no reply. That sharp stillness seeped in. And then as quick as you can hit a “delete” button, we ceased to exist. I ceased to exist. Our entire relationship — the four-hour conversations in the dark, the flights filled with anticipation, waking up together and cooking breakfast, holding my hand so I didn’t slip on the ice — became reduced to song lyrics. All I could ever be to you is the darkness that we knew and this regret I’ve got accustomed to. I kind of always knew I’d end up your ex-girlfriend. I wish you were the one that got away.
Even the most confident girl would be rattled if a seemingly perfect boyfriend cut her out of his life without so much as an “I just can’t, I’m sorry.” I am not, at my core, a confident girl. I really try to be, and sometimes I succeed, but it takes thought, hard work. So I waited for days, futilely clinging to the fact that there would be some explanation. “Maybe he died,” my friend said. Maybe. Or maybe just who I thought he was is dead. Maybe who he really is has just recently come back to life. I would not, I could not stand for this. I would get the last word if it killed me.
The final text, abridged: Truly, well done. A Tony Award-worthy performance for “Best Boyfriend.” A+ for the eloquent, mature breakup. As the communications manager for your company, it’s fairly clear now why it’s going bankrupt. I need you to know that you are the worst kind of person — a coward. I hate you forever. PS – brown socks do not, and will never, go with black shoes. Goodbye.
Was it mature? Not quite. But it helped. I got over the cologne I bought him for Valentine’s Day because it smelled like hints of spice, lime, and Hendrick’s, his favorite gin. I let go of the 25,000 frequent flyer miles. I even began to suppress the memory of carriage rides, brunches huddled close together in a corner booth, and his hand on the small of my back as I got into a cab.
But the thought continued to plague me, even as the sting of being brutally rebuffed began to fade: I considered moving to Ohio for him. Abandoning my life that I love, my cozy apartment, my family, my insane, wonderful friends — for Columbus, Ohio. I was ready to pack my bags and hop on the next non-stop plane without so much as a glance back at the life I was leaving behind. For him. Because he made me feel like I was something special. Like I was someone worthy of the kind romantic love you see in movies with Rachel McAdams. Like I was someone who he’d be proud to show off to his friends at the local bar, someone who could cook dinner with his mom and play cards with his dad. He made me feel like I was home. He lied to me, and he lied to himself.
I am glad I did not move to Ohio. I am glad I stayed in my tiny apartment, in this dirty city filled with strange noises and breakneck turns. I am glad that I found out who he was before it was too late. And I am glad that I am home. Because for as lonely as this home can be, it’s honest to the core.