It’s so easy to imagine a life with you. FaceTime dates, flights back and forth, meetings in airports where we run to each other like a scene in those romantic movies I’ve watched a million times. Timid hellos, because neither of us knows how to interact in person, not yet anyway. We hug and I breathe in your scent for the first time. You grab my bag and wrap your arm around my shoulder. It’s the most we’ve ever touched and my heart is exploding in my chest. I can’t seem to wipe the smile off my face.
I see myself struggling to open up. How much of myself should I give away? Is there such a thing as too much? I’ve never been good at hiding how I’m feeling, but finding the right words has never come naturally to me either. I hesitate and then melt as you allow me as much time and space as I need. It’s different with you; I don’t seem to question every little thing anymore. For once, I’m not thinking of anything but the present moment.
I see us laughing over my New York accent. You make me feel brave enough to grab your hand and interlock it with mine. You’re patient and you don’t make me feel anything but proud of who I am, especially when I’m with you. And then goodbyes, where neither of us wants to let go. You squeeze me tight, and I try to keep myself from tearing up. You push my hair away from my face and kiss my forehead. You leave me with a soft smile and tell me to call you when I land. As if I won’t be texting you the minute I sit down at my gate.
But this isn’t who we are. There isn’t an us. We’re two people living two separate lives. It’s easier to dream about who we could be.
It’s easy because it’s not real. I can control the scenario, rather than plunge headfirst into the unknown. It doesn’t even have to be you, but this way I can put a face to the imaginary scenario. I don’t even know if this is who you are, but I like to think it is. I hope my perception of you through social media isn’t romanticized to fit my expectations, but I’m probably wrong. I’ve been disappointed before. I get carried away, you see. It’s my own fault, but I can’t help it. We’re surrounded by love stories from when we’re little kids, vulnerable and naive to reality. Unfortunately, I’ve held onto those stories. They’ve gotten me through almost every phase of my life. I’m not ignorant, though. I know life doesn’t work like the movies, but it’s easier to get wrapped up in the fantasy of it all than expose myself to heartbreak.
I’ve never prioritized dating. In middle school, when the girls and guys started hooking up, getting in trouble for holding hands or hugging in the hallway, I was buried in my books. Throughout high school, my friends discussed boys and crushes and even dated, but still, I had no interest. College came and went and I was perfectly fine being on my own. In the last few years, though, I’ve dipped my toes into the realm of dating, and sometimes I wish I didn’t know. I wish I didn’t know what it was like to be on the verge of a first kiss. When he looked at me and all at once the world outside the car stopped. It all happened in slow motion, but when our lips finally met there was a rush of adrenaline. It’s as if a craving had finally been met, but I was never fully satisfied. I wanted more. We leaned into each other and our hands were everywhere. I lost control, but also seemed to know exactly what I was doing.
I wish I didn’t know how a simple touch can light something in me that I didn’t know was there. How a hand placed gently on my knee could suddenly set me on fire. It coursed through my entire being and showed its face on the pink of my cheeks. I started to smile and I couldn’t do anything else but focus on that touch. It was like an electric shock the moment it happened, and when his hand moved it left behind a coolness that only his touch could warm.
I wish we had never met so it wasn’t so easy to create a version of you to keep all to myself but never get to experience. I don’t know you, not really. But I want to.