You liked me because you were curious. You didn’t actually like me. You liked parts of me – the spots you hadn’t been given the right to explore at that age because no one let you. I liked you because I wanted to believe that men were not like my father. They were not narrow-minded, single-thought, manipulative creatures who only wanted that thing you liked. How could that be possible if all the movies embodied characters of great men?
You tricked me into believing that all men were those innocent, famous characters by playing one yourself. And then you snatched that belief away with just one swift clench of your hand on my arm in the backseat of your parents’ car during daylight in a park. I stopped believing men were great after.
You liked me because I was unavailable. I adored your friend. You adored breaking things that shouldn’t be mishandled, people who should be handled with caution. And when I thought you were just being the good friend, you drunkenly guided me in the cold of the night, across the hall from your friend whom I loved, and proved me wrong.
You liked me because I wildly showed you the world. I was violently outspoken. I didn’t wrap myself around you like every other girl in school. You liked me because I defied everything they warned you about girls in college. Maybe you actually did like me for me. I’ll never know.
Year after year, you sneaked me into your life for just long enough to convince me that I was worth something to you. If I let you in, just one more time, I couldn’t possibly be hurting myself again. And every single time, my friends would yell, “Why do you do this to yourself?”. I had no idea why I ever hoped that, even the very last time, you were worth my time.
And no matter how many songs I strummed on guitar and lyrics penned until I fell asleep, no matter how many years it took me to finally let go of that memory-ridden guitar, no matter how many times I sobbed in my room wondering, is this what a good person is like? I was always, always defeated.
You liked me because I was foreign and I pined over you. How could I not? You were dreamy. You resembled everything poorly written online articles cautioned against in someone of your heritage. They angrily wrote every single way you would snake behind my back and lie to my face so charmingly that I couldn’t possibly believe my suspicions.
But I always had suspicions. You told me you loved me so many times that I began to believe you said it because you didn’t want me to know the truth. I knew. I always knew. And to my dismay, I wailed for years, questioning why love was so frustrating.
You liked me because I was broken. I left them for you. I liked you because I needed to escape. I’m so, so sorry. But you should have known that wasn’t what love is. Love isn’t an escape.
You liked me because I was hard to get for years. You liked games. You liked that I never made myself available to you. You liked using your accent to your advantage, and I liked pretending that I had no clue what you’re doing. I did.
I liked you because you were easy. I’ve played this game one thousand times before you, knowing just how to pretend that I am so innocent and cannot understand your language. I had been studying.
And you liked when you thought that I would beg for you, ask to see you again. I didn’t. It was purely for one reason – I have become like my father.
You like me because you did when you were young. You always liked me. You like me even though you let me slip out of your hands so many times that I lost any light of love in my eyes.
You like me because I changed. You have too, but I picked up my life, shook it by its feet, and let everything left drop out of its pockets. You watched me change, move away, traverse around the world while you stayed put. You always liked me.
And even though my heart has been broken on four different continents by far too many people, you like me because I have never stopped believing in love. I still glimmer with that little inch of hope that shines out of me when I pray for it not to, as I’m dearly holding back feelings for you. You see right through my front. And I like you for that.
I love that you know, after all these years, that I refuse to stop believing in love. I refuse to be told that men are like my father. They can’t all be. No matter what, I refuse to stop believing in us. In something good. In change.
No matter what, I refuse to stop believing in love.