The first glance you take at him is unmemorable. You meet him somewhere mundane – like at a job, or sitting behind you in a lecture course. Upon meeting him, you don’t think much of it. Like the many people to cross your path each day, he is greeted with a handshake and a polite smile – his name already forgotten. For a minute, you examine him. You acknowledge that his looks are slightly above average, but not exactly the type that gets you up and out of bed in the morning. For a considerable amount of time, he continues to remain unnoticed; addressed only by passive smile-nods and short-lived conversations. But then one day, a particular encounter changes all that. His eyes and his crooked half-smile during your typically unenthused chit-chat makes you silently rethink the impressions you had during your first exchanges. You find yourself thinking about him in your spare time — initially dismissing it. You find yourself discreetly looking him up on social media; deeming it as “networking;” although you don’t actually add or follow him. You find yourself starting up conversation a little more — not exactly to “hit it up,” but due to a newfound curiosity that you can’t explain very well. And because of a reciprocated curiosity, he talks back. And you keep talking. You keep talking until he’s in the passenger seat of your car; looking at the clock to find that you two have been talking for an absurd amount of time. The next chance you two get, you two repeat the process – slowly and effortlessly peeling away at each other’s backstories. Each other’s quirks. Each other’s wildest aspirations. Finally, you come to the understanding that “there’s something here.” But it isn’t exactly how you’ve always pictured it. Naturally, there are sprinkled moments of stomach flutters and affectionate words, but it lacks the certain grandeur you remember infatuation being accompanied by. The certain grandeur that you would see in the movies. The certain grandeur that you, quite frankly, were pretty overwhelmed by. It’s just you and this boy — effortlessly falling into each other. You learn that beyond his prosaic exterior lies an intelligent, thoughtful, hilarious charmer of a man. You learn that he’s independent; with his own distinct interests and dreams, and you adore that about him. As you learn more and more about him, he learns just as much about you. He learns about the unresolved issues with your parents; about the damage caused by the one before; about the insecurities you try so hard to conceal from the standard observer or passer-by. You don’t realize it at first, but you slowly fall in love with this boy. You come to find that the way you feel is incomparable to anything you’ve ever felt before. That there is a potency between you two that cannot be put into words. That this time, it’s different.
But then, as you delve even deeper into his character, you learn that an unfortunate side-effect to his independence is a disfavor for any form of proper partnership. He likes you, he reiterates, but certain circumstances have made him emotionally unavailable – “an impenetrable wall,” he tells you. And by nobody’s fault but your own, you stay; saying that you’re fine with “hanging out” and “keeping things casual,” because after all that’s what it has been up to this point, anyway. You stay; secretly hoping for the day he realizes that you’re the exception to his rule, and that you’re exactly the person he’s been waiting for. He doesn’t do much to fend off these silent hopes – despite his occasional disclaimers. He never hesitates to stress that you’re unlike anyone he’s ever met. That he’s never felt this comfortable with a girl before. That he, quite honestly, digs the living shit out of you. And you believe him. Hell, he even believes himself – at least for the moment.
Before meeting this guy, you never really considered yourself the biggest love-seeker. You’re not terribly impressed by grand romantic gestures, and the thought of codependency kind of grosses you out. So you knew that you sure as hell wouldn’t be dumb enough to fall victim to sweet words and feigned affection. But, like anyone who’s ever been wrongly in love, you do exactly that – stumbling through with your eyes closed. You swear to yourself that this – whatever this is, really – sets itself apart from either of your guys’ past experiences. I mean, why else would he say those things if he didn’t mean it? It’s not like either of you were actively seeking the other out; it just happened. And the way he looks at you? You can’t fake that. His preset mindset and values will, sooner or later, hit the backburner – emotion will always take precedence. You continue to justify your reasons to settle for being a flavor; a potato chip; a pair of underwear – interchangeable and impossible to only have one of. Distracted by weekend road trips and late night Taco Bell runs, you’re able to convince yourself that “hanging out” makes you perfectly happy. Sure, you’re not a priority of his, but he’s here, isn’t he?
After the initial novelty of a new connection wears off, you settle into somewhat of a routine – despite how “casual” your relations are claimed to be. He reminds you that he cares about you, but his actions don’t seem to sync up, because he knows that no matter what, you’ll always be around. Being a sizably unromantic person, you never imagined that this type of vulnerability could ever happen to you. But you continue to be strung along – clinging to the off-chance that perhaps one day he’ll have a change of heart, and finally admit that he’s fallen just as hard as you have. Sadly, that day never comes. The relations run their course, and he moves on to the next chapter – ready for another endeavor. And that leaves you – idly adhering to something you’ve grown so used to. You try so hard to move on. You immerse yourself in your activities and tell yourself that romance isn’t your thing anyway. Eventually feel yourself getting better. You start to get some good solid laughter in, and you finally get some work done again. You’re able to talk about the situation with your friends calmly and almost indifferently. Gradually, you start to feel like yourself again. But then, setbacks occur – most of the time without warning. He’ll invade your dreams periodically; allowing you to spend just a little more time with him before consciousness takes you back again. After continually teetering between recovery and relapse, you ask yourself if you’ll ever truly be able to move on from him, and if you’re ever going to be able to feel like this for someone new. You bask in the glories of days past. You look to your passenger seat; grieving for when it was him in that seat. And despite all of the reasons you laid out about how he would never be good for you anyway, you find yourself only thinking about the good times. The laughter. The nights that you hoped would never end. After all of this; after countless mornings of swollen eyes due to your pre-sleep crying; after what feels like a lifetime of aching passes you by, you realize that you’re still whole. A bit more jaded, you claim, but still whole. You find yourself able to archive the chapter you’ve so desperately held on to. Not completely block it out, but put it away while still being able to appreciate its existence. You smile when you see his new significant other – truly happy that he’s happy. You go back to living your life for you, and only you. You shake hands with a boy in a mundane place. And your story continues.