Nine months ago, I wrote a piece titled “It Is Okay To Want To Be Adored.” I wrote about a man who I knew, from the moment we met, was not right for me. I never came to love him, but I loved the way he ignited a fire inside me, one that I’ve kept burning low for the past few years and have neglected to feed as I began to grow more and more content with the idea of being alone. And then he came along, and reminded me of what it felt like to crave attention, even though, looking back, I guess it was never his attention that I specifically craved. I probably should have listened to 9-months-ago-me. I should have heeded my initial instincts to steer clear of someone who so obviously shared none of my hobbies, goals, values, and passions. But we glossed over our differences because it was the beginning, and it was exciting, and it felt nice to hold someone’s hand again, even though our fingers never seemed to interlock as seamlessly as we knew they were capable of doing. We had a physical attraction that we foolishly believed could turn into something meaningful, and we failed (or refused) to realize that the only thing we had to fill the silences with was sex.
We were opposites in every way. Him, talkative and confident, ready and willing to strike up conversation with complete strangers. Me, unintentionally oblivious to the people around us and the things they had to say. He grew up on sports and skinned knees, I was raised by books and music. He loved to surf, and skate, and smoke weed; I loved to read, and watch movies, and write. He was born and bred in this city, surrounded in all five boroughs by childhood friends, while I moved here post-college with nothing but a few suitcases and my dog, and have honestly never felt lonelier than I did those first few months in New York City. He had perfected the fine art of living in the moment, a trait I simultaneously envied and resented, because I was always preoccupied with the future and my tentative role in it.
The truth is that we never had anything in common, and we knew that. But we also knew that sometimes, different can be good. Sometimes different is what you need to knock you out of the rut your wheels have sunken into. Sometimes different can open your eyes, and show you that you have only exposed yourself to such a little fraction of what this beautiful world has to offer. So we embarked on this journey together, two polar opposites, hoping that the differences we shared would come to balance each other out, filling in the gaps that we had long forgotten were there. I have to admit that there was a certain sexiness to the way we were able to introduce each other to new experiences, a raw appeal in seeing the same old things from the eyes of a newcomer. But we quickly learned that that was not enough. We went through the motions of a real couple – the good morning texts, the weekend trips, meeting each other’s friends. And at some point, after so many weeks of spending Saturday nights in his bed, I woke up one Sunday and turned to see his sleeping face next to mine, so peaceful in the morning light that for a moment I truly believed that I wouldn’t mind waking up to this view every Sunday. I naively began to think that these moments of unexpected clarity would be enough to build a relationship upon, that butterflies could carry the weight of the burdens of the heart. But we were never right for each other, and our halfhearted attempt to prove ourselves wrong was only a failed experiment in forcing love out of what was nothing more proximity, convenience.
That’s not to say we didn’t have our moments, though, because we did; moments when we would lay there, laughing together, happy and content and on the verge of feeling like this could be the beginning of something beautiful. It was these moments, few and far between, that kept me from letting things go when they had clearly run their course. Truth be told, I never believed that it was impossible for us to find happiness together, but we should have known it was a lost cause each time we fought and retreated in angry silence instead of swallowing our pride to meet each other halfway. But sometimes, I still find myself waking up in the middle of the night and reaching for you in the dark, and for a moment I am surprised by how much I miss you. But it only lasts a second, and then I try to picture a future without you. When I can, and it doesn’t hurt, that’s when I remember why I had to let us go.