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A (Very Short) Love Story

My warm face pressed into the backseat window, it was the only thing that made my mind, spinning with thoughts and several Moscow Mules, go still. I looked at him sitting in the passenger seat where he scrolled through his phone to find my favourite country song. He turned around to look at me and smiled. I smiled back, then turned away, my breath fogging up the cold glass as I sang along. He asked me to be his girlfriend earlier that night and we lived happily ever after. Jks, we broke up six days later.

“I don’t want you to hold me back,” I told him, after my friends left and the house was quiet. “I don’t want you to hold me back,” he replied, his blue eyes meeting mine. I didn’t turn away this time, I was getting better at the whole eye contact thing. He explained that relationships aren’t about holding each other back and, although my cognitive skills were impaired, I understood.

“We have to tell each other everything and always be honest,” he insisted, curled up in my arms on the sinking couch. We stayed there, on the same page for a while, before I rolled off, lay on the carpet, and sang, “IF YOU LIKE PIÑA COLADAS AND GETTING CAUGHT IN THE RAIN!”…see above re: several Moscow Mules. We didn’t need to talk about all this stuff, he liked me, I liked him, and that was that. He laughed, then carried me upstairs. This was so easy.

I woke up the next morning in the bed where I have spent many a night, but never one with a guy. It was a strange sight to wrap my pounding head around, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like it. I pulled back the curtains and let the sunlight fill my room and start the day. My first official day as a girlfriend. I’ve never been one of those before.

“So, how does this work?” I asked him, over heaps of golden french toast and crispy bacon. He put down his coffee and told me, “we just keep doing what we’re doing, it’s only a label.” Right, yeah, only a label. But with the label came serious questions like, what if I don’t want to put my finger up there? Who’s that girl commenting on your Instagram? And how long before I can fart in front of you?

I opened my mouth, but filled it with bacon instead of questions – I like you more and more every time I see you – I remembered what he said last night when I asked if we were rushing things after a month of dating. “I told the boys I asked you out,” he said, snapping me back to reality, “have you told your friends yet?” “No,” I said… “but I will.”

The following days were met with sweet pleasantries, along the lines of, “Oh my God, I’m so happy for you!” and “you deserve this!” Words I smiled at, but didn’t understand. I mean, I was getting D on the regular and had someone who could open tightly sealed water bottles for me, it’s not like I won a Nobel Peace Prize. When I shared the news with a friend, regarding my recently changed relationship status, she was so excited that she punched me in the face. I repeat, she punched me in the face.

You see, I have never been one to jump boldly into love or like for that matter. I prefer to stand still with my toes glued to the edge of the high dive, waiting for him to tell me it’s safe to take a step forward. I will wait there, sweating, knees shaking, and hands never in the right place, for him to tell me that he likes me. Not just show, tell. I need verbal confirmation that this fall isn’t going to hurt. And if he tells me, I will move, but he needs to make the first one. I can stand there for a while too, weeks at a time, and for one person in particular, an entire year.

Now I won’t wait for just anyone, nope, I only put myself through this agony for the cute, unavailable ones who tell me about their Dad and send my dopamine levels through the roof. But, I don’t want to wait anymore, because some day those same shaky knees will turn arthritic and feral cats will rub their skinny bodies against my –  please let that be water running down my leg.

So, instead of waiting, I threw myself into writing and travelling and staying up late with friends. I forgot about guys for the hundredth time and often woke up with one arm draped over my pretty MacBook. I was completely content living in my little, safe, boy-free bubble. Until one day, as easily as he slid into my DM, we slid down a snow covered hill that crunched under a blue magic carpet on our first date. And it started again.

Except this was different. I never waited for him. He let me know right away how he felt about me. He told me it was safe to jump, so I did. He insisted on breaking down my walls, so he did. My hands finally knew where to go, because he reached out to hold them – under his mom’s dinning room table when I was nervous, in the car between makeouts at red lights. He held my clammy hands in the rain as we walked along the lake and I thought to myself, this is it, this is what all the hype is about – “I wrote to you everyday for a year!” he screamed, then grabbed my face and kissed me in the pouring rain…okay fine, that part happened in The Notebook.

But he really did show up when he said he would and never got mad at me for being late, which I often was. He drove in a midnight blizzard to a house party just so he could see me and meet my friends. When I opened the door and saw him slipping on the icy driveway, his hair dusted with snowflakes, I felt so lucky to have someone who liked me that much. “I think I did okay,” he said, when we left the party and trekked to our snowed-in cars. I looked at him in disbelief, he did more than okay, he did and said everything right.

And then something went wrong. It was early Tuesday and I woke up to a good morning text and snow squalls. We messaged throughout the day and planned to hang out later that night. I knew the roads were bad, but that didn’t stop him from seeing me before. I shaved my entire body and danced around the house like a lunatic. I was excited to see him, they were right, I did deserve this.

I was mid moon walk when I got his text saying he couldn’t make it and my dance party for one came to an abrupt stop. We spoke on the phone to reschedule and when I hung up, an x-ray bib appeared on my chest. That’s weird, where did this come from? I thought, poking at the heaviness. I messaged him, asking if he could call me back, perhaps he knew the reason for the bib’s sudden appearance.

One hour went by and still no call. Hmm, maybe his phone died. Another hour. Nothing. Maybe he died. What if he ended up driving, got in an accident, and died. Who would I sit beside at his funeral? I met his mom once and she was lovely, but we’re not that serious, so I don’t think it would be appropriate – I’m fine, everything is fine. 

The bib got heavier with each passing hour. When I wasn’t Googling local car accidents or Web Md-ing chest pain, I filled the time by pacing around the house and checking my phone as often as I blinked. I eventually decided that my efforts were better spent lying on the living room carpet, where I tried to quiet the running dialogue between my brain, my gut and my vagina.

Brain: At 11:26 am he said his Grandma wants to meet you, at 1:10 pm he said he really wants to see you, at 1:13 pm he said he wants you to come down next Saturday to meet his friends, at 4:00 pm he sent a kissy face emoji.

Gut:  Often, things are said just because someone else wants to hear them.

Vagina: Do not ruin this for us!

Brain: He called you babe at 9:00 am, 1:08 pm, 1:13 pm, 3:39 pm, and 3:40 pm

Gut: Run.

Vagina: Stay.

*Bing* I sprinted for my phone the way a dog chases a ball, wide eyed, mouth open, drooling, omg omg text text text.  I pressed the home button and…a message from Mom. Dammit! I can’t talk to her right now, I’m very busy. I dropped my phone and pouted back to the carpet where an indent of my body, or a chalk outline for murder victims, had formed. Here lies Meredith, she was delusional, yet grossly self aware, cause of death: waiting for a text.

I called my best friend and she suggested that I was perhaps overreacting and told me not to text him, “you don’t want to seem crazy.” I agreed with her, then messaged him asking if everything was okay. When he didn’t reply to that, I proceeded to watch The Way We Were, while eating peanut butter with my hands, and dozed off to the sweet sound of Barbara Streisand’s voice. And the Academy Award for Best Dramatic Performance goes to…

*Bing* It was dark outside when I opened my eyes. I reached for my buzzing phone, sticky with peanut butter, and stared at the screen. There it was, his name in a tiny, green bubble. Eight hours later.

I opened his texts and scrolled through the “babes” and the apologies for not having his phone, he had dropped it in his friend’s car. I read his words and chose to believe them; things didn’t add up, but I’ve never been good at math. I swallowed my doubts and crashed into bed.

Sleep comes easy to the hopeful. It is there they can dream of a perfect World where texts are instantly replied and girlfriends are not forgotten about like phones left in cars. Reality is the tough one, reality comes with alarm clocks and painfully awkward phone calls. “I waited for you for seven years eight hours!” I wanted to scream into the phone the next morning. Instead, somewhere between the uncomfortable pauses, I heard myself say, “can you come over tonight?” and nearly choked on my own words.

But I had a plan, I swear. I was going to look him in the eye that night and ask if he was in this one hundred percent. And if he was, then I would be too. You jump, I jump, “if you’re a bird, I’m a bird” – shut the fuck up Nicholas Sparks, you’re ruining my life!

I didn’t look him in the eye that night. And, no, he didn’t write to me every day for a year; he sent me an instant message with the improper use of “your” and “you’re.” Note to self, when a text begins with, “this is by far the shittiest thing I have ever done…” chances are, what comes after, is going to be shit, so maybe don’t read it at work. Too late, I saw it, held my breath, and swiped open.

His words hit me like punches to the stomach – I didn’t lose my phone – ex girlfriend – we just had a drink – jumped into this too quickly – sorry if I lead you on…time…slowed…down. The room spun and I could feel my heart pound in my ears. I have no idea how long I stood there, hunched over my phone, when my coworker asked if I was okay. “I have to leave,” I mumbled, then walked out the door.

At least I think I walked. I’m still unsure how I ended up on the third floor of a department store, yelling profanities into my phone. When I came back to Earth, I was shaking on an escalator, hoping one of the several concerned shoppers could tell me what the fuck just happened. It was a very silent and slow descent to the main floor. My memory of our last conversation faded along with our relationship and I wanted nothing more than to sink with the steps into the ground. But, when I reached the bottom, the x-ray bib had disappeared and I could finally breathe.

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