And I loved them.
He protested that I exaggerated his opinions to dramatic proportions. Patting the back of my head, he would hold me tight under blue striped covers, trying not to fall off of his tiny bed in his tiny dorm room. That was two weeks ago.
I met him through friends, most likely in the dining hall, carrying one of our signature black trays full of my signature loads of food I would never quite finish. Our first impressions of each other could not be less memorable. I thought his voice lacked masculinity, being too high and groundless. He thought I was loud and boisterous. His stories were hardly interesting. Decked out in his collared shirts and fitted pants, he seemed too old in a young world of flip flops and shorts. For two years after our first encounter, we always carried the awkwardness of new acquaintances whenever we met. Occasionally, I would see him hug a brown haired girl with clear blue eyes while they were both staring at a common laptop. My curiosity would peak for 10 seconds before being pulled into some other direction, most likely my hilarious roommates and much more interesting friends.
I was never quite the lady to dazzle her “good acquaintances” either. One of my close friends described my voice as too nasally while others never even gave it a thought. He would later tell me that he had never thought of me as different or special until a week before our accidental beginning. Of course, he was involved in a serious relationship that spanned across continents for a year-and-a-half.
To think that we went from virtual strangers to lovers in everything but name was astounding, and most of all dizzying. It was as if he shined a flashlight into my face while I was in a deep and heavy slumber, the ones we fall into after multiple all-nighters and would never wake up out of choice. Petrified, I was blinded by the foreign sensation of being vigorously pursued out of nowhere and without due warning. Still, I paused often, blinking furiously in search of logic and practicality, anything to hold off the automated, high speed train of our flashlight relationship.
What educated, well-informed woman would agree to a potentially heartbreaking relationship three months prior to her graduation? This one. Unwittingly, she embarked on a journey thinking that she could always stay as aloof and unattached as she began. I knew very well how we would end, when we would end, and what it would be like afterwards. He never failed to remind me how “we were going to make some great memories together.” Like the cemetery we attempted to visit in the dead of night, our relationship was morbid from the very beginning. It was doomed to failure and I, usually seeking for stability, went against my better judgement.
But how can an unloved, lonely soul perpetually stressed about her less than mediocre thesis and future prospects resist the warmth of being held by all forgiving arms? How can the female mind, no matter low logical and filled with wisdom, not fall for the wonderful pretensions evoked by repeated declarations of “love?” Substantiated with all the proper acts of care, he had accidentally led me to expect much more than we could ever have.
Did he really love me? He defended his love strongly, childishly, taking my doubts as insults to his feelings. Yet, his love was not the forever kind, or even the two-year kind. We were polar opposites in life habits, in political opinions, and everything in between. The only bridge we had ever built was not of our own doing nor out of our own personalities. It was one built by the common school we went to, the same house we lived in. Our career paths would never meet, yet they held the same overall goal of social progress. So I clung to these similarities as if they were God sent signs that we were indeed meant to meet, meant to fall for each other in whatever small way allowed by fate, and even, meant to end prematurely.
We fought often. Often enough for a non-existent couple, for one with a working period of three months. I thought he never took me seriously, laughed too heartlessly at what I liked, dismissed my dreams and my appreciation for the arts as naive. He thought I was too sensitive, took myself too seriously, and failed to understand the self-deprecating culture of his country. I thought he was the most contradictory person when it came to luxury, abhorring the glamour and glitz of the rich while purchasing the same, expansive suits as the latter. He thought that my little habits were annoying and that my want of a family with children was selfish beyond belief. We were perfect for each other.
And so the days rolled into weeks, weeks into months until graduation week advanced upon us faster than our romantic train. In a blur of senior celebration and cliched speeches, we received our diplomas, hugged a million people, met each other’s parents casually and briefly, only to fall asleep out of exhaustion on our very last night together. His words of love had stopped by then. He had not uttered them for a good three weeks but I, I had cried in his arms. I asked him if he would consider the same long-distance arrangement he had before, only this time, I would be in America and he would be 8 hours away. He didn’t even hesitate.
I cried then. The tears welled behind my eyes and fell onto his matching blue pillow, on his arms, his chest. My voice cracked horrifically enough to echo in his tiny room. I never knew pain as I knew it then, and even now.
But why had I cried? Why? I have often asked myself this question. I knew that he would never agree. I knew we were to end as dizzily and hastily as we began. I cried because his professions of love never matched my definition. I cried because I had stupidly began to care for him, in my own forever and always kind of way. I cried because he had once again proven, along with the rest of the world, that love was a fleeting, untrustworthy, and disappointing lie. I cried because he did not even contemplate, couldn’t even stop in his practicality to see the heart that he had taken with him. I cried because I loved him.
That night after leaving me, he went to a party to see his friends.
He hated stories. He cautioned that I should always look for the other side, for hidden details and ulterior motives. But little did he realize, that he was the devious storyteller he had warned me against. Consciously or unconsciously, he wove a story of love when it was much less. He wrote me into his pages with his confidant penmanship and I, like a naive child listening to a bedtime tale by the fireplace, believed him with sparkling eyes. I fell asleep flying on colorful dreams only to wake up to a world of gray. A world without him, without us. A world that never had an us.