“I think we’d be better off as friends.”
He looked at me pityingly, sighed, then stood up and walked out of the door for the last time. The sound of the deadbolt locking reverberated in my ears, cold and metallic like the blood on my tongue from nervously chewing my inner lip as he fed me line after cliched-breakup line. He probably studied John Hughes films in preparation.
Following his performance and dramatic exit, I cued up a montage of our greatest moments to replay in my head in a similarly hokey 80’s fashion– scenes of snowball fights, swing dancing, and stolen kisses now soiled by the realization that there were not more memories to be made.
Never again would I feel the warmth of his fingers intertwined with mine, smell the muted cologne on his bare chest, or hear his bellowing laugh as I shared the meme I had just seen on The Fat Jewish with him. Oh, the memes.
The second night we spent together, he showed me a favorite of his: “SEND NUDES” clandestinely written in Axe body wash on the floor of a dormitory shower. I instantly saw the beauty that he had seen upon first viewing this meme as well. The composition was flawless– reminiscent of Leibovitz– and the message was succinct and powerful. In that moment, I sensed we had connected beyond the spontaneous, almost childish lust of our initial encounter. As I watched him add me to his preferred Facebook meme group, I realized the feeling was mutual. From that day on, my heart raced every time I saw the notification “He mentioned you in a comment.” Yes, I would miss the memes the most.
I sulked in my darkened room, the only source of light emanating from my phone screen as I scrolled through pages of memes on his prized meme group and tears scrolled down my cheeks with matched ferocity. In the coming days of returned sweatshirts, hairpins, and that-mixtape-I-made-him-before-realizing-his-new-computer-no-longer-had-a-CD-drive, I would soon be deleted from his meme group as well. I spent these final days devouring memes in a desperate attempt to hold on to the scraps of our seemingly unbreakable connection. Then, one day, I hit refresh and it was gone. My memes had been ripped away from me as abruptly as our love had.
Without memes, the twinkle in my eyes vanished, the pep in my step plopped, and my daily six am wake-up and workout turned into a two pm wallow and weep. “You don’t look yourself,” my friends would say. “I don’t feel myself,” I would reply dryly. They did their best to revive me, surprising me with lattes and stopping by my apartment unannounced with rosé.
No one is just ‘in the neighborhood’ double-fisting bottles of Andre, Sharon, I thought to myself. Their efforts, while well-intended, were futile, though I sat politely through each romcom they screened on my couch. One Tuesday night in the middle of “Crazy Stupid Love,” my phone buzzed with a Facebook notification. “You have been mentioned in a comment,” it read. I frantically unlocked my phone and stared at the meme in front of me– a version of the “SEND NUDES” meme he had shown me now almost a full year ago. This time the words were spelled out with spilled cheerios. It was just as beautiful.
As I gazed upon the masterpiece on my screen, I finally understood why He had come into my life. He did not give me a greater knowledge of love, increased empathy, or personal growth, but he did give me memes. Suddenly, I saw my destiny. I would become a meme lord.
The next day, I woke up at six am and went for a jog. Immediately upon my return, I sat down at my computer, opened Facebook, and clicked the menu item to create a new group: “Steamy Memes for Edgy Queens.” I sent him an invite to join accompanied by a two-word message: Thank you.