There’s a velvet gown that’s hanging in my closet that probably doesn’t fit me anymore. I wore it walking down the aisle at my best friend’s wedding and I’ll probably need to get it altered if I ever want to wear it again. I wore it standing up watching him declare to death do I part and then some to the love of his life. I wore it in wedding photos with someone I once thought I could love and dancing with someone I almost did. I wore it around loves that left celebrating a love that promised to always be there.
And now the dress doesn’t fit like those loves didn’t fit and I’m no closer to finding one that does.
My high school best friend (unmarried, at least as of right now) texted me the other day saying that she’s started seeing someone. “It’s new! We’re going slow! There isn’t anything solidified yet!” All of these reassurances coming after she just tells me she’s dating someone and that he’s nice and that for the first time a long time, she could really like someone. All of these reassurances that I can’t help but feel are laced with, “I promise I’m not leaving you behind.” And even though I’m happy for her and I don’t think she should feel obligated at all to reassure me that I’ll be okay, she’s still in a way, walking away from a different life that I’m still in.
Soon, she’ll talk about my experiences in the past tense. But I’ll still be in the present.
“We can’t believe it’s only been three weeks!” he exclaims to me while gushing about his new boyfriend at a mile a minute. And I’m happy to listen, happy to keep saying, “That’s cute. That’s sweet. Omg stop.” Happy to share in this euphoria and honeymoon state excitement over this new person. It’s not like I didn’t know he had found someone. Didn’t notice the delay in hearing back from him. That his social media feed was starting to be dates with the same hands opposite side him at the restaurant, rather than his selfies before a first date. That his texts were less, “What does this mean?” And more “Look at this man!”
That we were ultimately moving in different directions in this area of our lives. Him going this way and me staying put.
And another friend is not pining after her teenaged love anymore, not waiting for anyone to come back, not saying “I’m not going to text him back this time,” only to end up back in his bed on the off chance he throws her a sliver of attention. Instead, she’s found someone stable. Someone sure. Someone whose love looks less like chaos and more like consistency. And she’s happy. She’s really, really, really happy. So when someone is happy and wants to shout their happiness, you do the right thing and let them. I celebrate with her, I soak in her happiness with her. I say things like, “You deserve to be loved like this.” And I mean it. I really, really mean it.
Everyone is in a relationship and I’m not. Everyone is finding this happiness, this stability, this next step in life and I’m not. Everyone is finding their person when I have to be my own.
Everyone is falling in love without me, and I’m not sure how that’s supposed to feel.
My dad asks me what I’m up to, if I’m doing anything new. He tells me I work too much, I don’t go out enough, I’m alone too much, I don’t give people enough of a chance. Too much and not enough all at once. He sounds worried. I can hear the confusion marinating in him when the girl who was in relationship after relationship after relationship for the better part of 7 years is suddenly uninterested in anyone. He says they don’t *really* worry about me, just wish I would “give it a shot again.”
I know he’s lying. I don’t ask him not to.
One of my friends is going through a big breakup. They were left, it was sudden, there isn’t a definitive reason behind why it’s over. They are in that floating state of uncertainty that comes from having your life flipped with no warning. From going to “me” from “we.” From losing something that was supposed to be constant. From being alone for the first time in what feels like forever.
They tell me they’re done. That they’re going to be single. That they’re going to Eat, Pray, Love and figure out what it means to be alone. That they will be content being single.
That they will be like me.
But then they’re sending me screenshots from Tinder, telling me about how they’re talking to a former fling again. Showing me the DMs from people and giggling about how they’ve already been dating.
And that’s the thing. That’s what they can’t see.
Soon, they won’t be single. Soon, they won’t be alone. Soon, they’ll be falling in love again.
So they won’t be like me at all.