You met him months earlier. A meeting not significant enough to remember every detail, but enough to recall you had briefly spoken about a new album coming out by a band you both adored. You fall for him cautiously, maintaining your cold exterior for a couple days, maybe even a few weeks, before you start to crack.
You humorously refuse to hand out your phone number, smiling and shaking your head ‘no’ as you back away. But you still hear from him later on. Before you can ask how he got it, he’s hooked you with a deeper than normal interest in your life, your interests, even your mundane daily routine. He texts you on a Tuesday or Wednesday as you head into work. It’s early enough in the week to be inconspicuous, but not yet to the point of suspicion.
You ‘met through friends’ as they say. In fact, you were probably turned off from his know-it-all intensity and the way his teeth weren’t really all that straight. Though, he’s not a political fool like most people you’ve met at the free happy hours. He’s the intellectual type working in a small, local business. When he asks you to stop by, you’re immediately drawn to a scribbled list of books on his desk. Into the Wild. War and Peace.’ You really want to read all these?’ you ask. ‘I’m going to try’. He offhandedly notes that his job is being cut in a few months. He’ll be in limbo until he finds a new position. Somewhere. You nod at him and continue reading the list. Great Expectations. Gone with The Wind.
The formerly inconsistent texts you’ve exchanged become more persistent. And then the routine starts. It’s 9 a.m., he’s already wished you a good morning and is on his way with your coffee, made strong and black (the only way you drink it). You won’t realize it at the time, but the dependency has already crept its way through your veins. You’re no longer talking about current events or favorite movies.
There’s a new level of conversation revealing a layer of trust. He confides in you about his parents’ failing marriage, his move from the midwest, where he sees himself in five years. Trying not to, you’ll inevitably give up a piece of your own broken life you’ve managed to salvage by twenty-four. You’ve both moved here to start anew…awaiting to see if it was worth the struggle.
You start to like the flannel shirts he wears at inappropriate times and almost find it endearing how he gets irrationally sweaty when you’re talking. The first time he grabs your hand you feel a charge pulsate through you. It isn’t the emotional investment you’ve felt before, but a chemical one. Without the other, you feel a sense of unbalance that is only cured by his presence.
You’re unable to close your eyes the first night you sleep together. You stay up until the light peeks in, wanting, needing, him again and again. He halfheartedly murmurs he has to go work. He can’t do this all day, he whispers, as he leans further into you. As you try to find your dress from the night before, he pulls you back down into bed as he calls in sick. The control you once had disintegrates.
It’s not slow like you imagined, but instantaneous when you see him in your group of friends and feel a sudden sense of ownership. He’s yours. The 2 a.m. phone calls, excessive exchange of cat videos only you two would find funny, and the ritualistic Friday night dates for Thai food.
Although rare, you find yourself glancing at the calendar and counting the weeks. Five weeks? How many days is that? He won’t bring it up. He’s successfully avoided this topic since the beginning. You pretend it’s because he’s scared since he could never be so selfish. You two have a party to attend next weekend, you plan to end it after that. It gives you enough time to settle back into the friendship you once had. There. You’re leaving him. Besides, it’s only been a month or two. Connections take years to form! You protest your heart’s falsity and make declarations of how easy this is.
But then you don’t. He gets too tipsy at the get-together and you end up lying on his bed as he pulls his body weight on top of yours. That favorite album you both gushed over at your first interaction plays in the background. He can’t believe this happened. Could he really change his whole life for a girl? You’ll feel his breath on your neck as he comes dangerously close to tears. Then he’s crying. He could look for jobs here. You could visit each other. You are the one he didn’t know he was looking for. You smile and run your fingers through his hair, confirming his absurd claims. He was what you were looking for, too. You place blame on everything besides the person whose body weight is no longer a reassuring comfort, but a suffocating reminder of what’s to disappear. The level of passion is insurmountable as you are no longer giggling and fumbling about, but making love with intensity and, though you don’t realize it then, a purpose.
You make a list of plans to overcome a little distance. Because the two of you are different. He repeats that soul mates weren’t real until this moment. It feels as though everyone else has been using a term meant for only you and him.
You have so much faith. Lively, beautiful, bold faith. He calls you the moment he lands back home, the one he so desperately tried to leave years before. The momentum holds for a few weeks, there isn’t a minute that passes when you’re not talking. And then. The months begin to blur and you’re not sure how to recommit to this bond without seeing each other. Luckily, you won’t need to decide. He will. He’ll end it swiftly, just as it began. He’s wasting his time. He can’t see how it will work. He can’t trust these circumstances. A single text or a quick e-mail, because a phone call would be too messy. You call anyways in a lame attempt to grasp what once was as you hold onto the empty phone line as long as you can.
They didn’t warn you about this. You break up when you grow apart, when you fall for someone else, or when you want different things. When nothing is wrong, it will take years for you to figure out how it still wasn’t right.
Two years out, it still stings when you hear his name. Subtle, yet enough to notice your quick sharpness of breath. You meet someone new who makes you laugh and always lets you choose what CD to play on long road trips. You deny any comparison. Try to, at least. This new man tells you he’s staying here for a year. One year and he’ll need to go back to his old job somewhere far away from this lonely city. You pretend to sigh of relief, you’ve done this before. You’ve structured your life around temporary companionship. As you slide into the booth for late night Thai food, you confirm that you were built for this. Aren’t all relationships a series of fleeting moments? Lucky you. You are so well-versed.