Another girl has left my side. I’m tempted to say I’m never lucky in love, but I’m not here to mope. I’m here because we finally closed the book. How many chapters can one write with 5 years of material? A good story, in any case. A sweet story, a sad story. A story we once thought eternal. I smile at our own naïveté. It is nothing to be ashamed of, for love is not love if it has no faith in itself.
I want to write something down, I want to pour my feelings, my memories, my lessons, all of the beautiful gems we collected over the years, into my final dedication to you. I want to craft us something to last for the rest of our lives, a beacon of hope, a warning or simply a meeting place where we can rest and look upon the fading beauty of bygone times.
Where do I start? I remember the first day. You were heading somewhere, you had Purpose. You also had the cutest face I’d ever seen. Big eyes, button nose, just the tiniest bit chubby. I was smitten.
I remember the first time I talked to you. First floor of the library. You were studying for a physics class. What luck that you weren’t alone! Our mutual friend K sat opposite you, so I sat down next to him and started talking. I had never done a thing like that before, but I’m glad the ice was broken that day.
I remember going to that fast food place and getting you the first soft toy I ever got you. A lion with a soccer jersey. 2006 World Cup, if I’m not mistaken. I surprised you, huh?
I remember going absolutely crazy about you in the following months, and only that night, the last night I really spent with you, did you manage to put into words that “that” was precisely what you love and hate about me. I agreed to dance on stage because you agreed to dance on stage, but you didn’t dance with me. Do you know how sharp the prick of jealousy was the night we performed our respective acts? You never knew I was looking for you to give you some encouragement, only to find that you had found it elsewhere. THAT was why our paths diverged for a time.
I didn’t speak to you much for the three months we were otherwise engaged, then I heard that you were single again. Coincidentally, not long after, so was I. You stopped avoiding me, too. It wasn’t easy to start our relationship, though. I’m sorry I broke up with you so soon after we first began dating. Do you know, at that time, every relationship I had ever left was not of my own volition? Breaking up with you because you were just a bit demanding was my attempt to break that trend. I’m really sorry. I didn’t understand you then. But I understood the tears the next day, and I said to myself what I never stopped saying from that day onward – that you are worth it. And then we started dancing for real.
I know I dropped the ball more than once, but you were patient. You were wiser than you know. I can’t explain any clearer than that, but trust me, you were. “People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
So one way or another we loved our way to the US of A. I remember the first time I visited UWM. It was winter, and the lake had frozen over. All bundled up in our winter jackets, hand in hand, shuffling across the ice… It was winter, but I was never warmer. We fell into a sort of routine – one of us would make that 3 hour bus ride to visit the other every week or two. As a result, I felt like I lived on two campuses the whole time. Potbelly sandwiches for breakfast, the Walgreens on the corner of State and Lake, Bascom Hill, and Memorial Union, of course. At 2 in the morning, invariably. Alone, because though I wished you could have waited with me, I agreed that it wasn’t safe and you would be tired. I guess talking about UWM isn’t that exciting, you spent more time there than I did, you have your own memories of the place. One final memory though, one thing I hope you don’t forget, because I never will. That night, in the middle of that square right before State Street, the one with the tiny fountain, the little clocktower, remember? I don’t remember why we were out, but it was nice weather, and we were strolling quite leisurely. Then I looked up, and I noticed a pattern of stars that I had only ever seen before in books as illustrations. That was the first time we saw the Ursa Major constellation, the Big Dipper in the sky. That was quite magical for me, and I know you shared some of that feeling. I will always associate the Big Dipper with that first time, with you by my side.
Chicago deserves a paragraph, too, in this mini memoir. You’d always arrive at O’Hare, because that’s as far as the buses from Wisconsin went. I’d be there to meet you, and we’d spend the next hour or so on the L getting to my place. Sometimes you’d talk, mostly you’d be tired, and lie your head on my shoulder while you rested. You could never sleep on moving vehicles like other people do, so tired you would stay until we arrived at where I lived. You put up with a lot of walking back in the day. Thank you, dear. As soon as we could, though, we were in the city. Chicago! Where we dined in the Rainforest and skated in the park with the giant chrome bean and watched Wicked on stage and crept about the Undercity and explored the Botanic Gardens…
We had some fights, of course. I remember the time I threw the blue dog/pig soft toy out the 20-something floor window, and you, in response, threw the pack of Magic cards a friend had given me after it. I have no idea what that was about now. I remember the time you packed up in silence and walked out of the house without a word, and I had to chase you down and convince you to stay. I do remember what that was about. The last fight I remember, or care to remember, is marked right there in your apartment. You probably don’t even see it now. Not so much a fight as a venting of frustration on my part. Hmm, that reminds me of another thing I broke in frustration. Is that why you gave up? Because I would break things? But I fixed them… I fixed them
I skipped a bit there. The broken wall didn’t happen until much later, after you moved to Hartford and I couldn’t find a job. But then, there’s not much to tell. I thought we had some happy moments in that last year, but I was just blind. I won’t say anything further, and you can rest assured that regrets will tinge my memories of that time. I don’t know if you’ll ever remember my presence in Hartford with anything but worry and frustration. And yet I thought when you smiled, things were alright. I never realized you were putting on a brave face.
Dear, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for all the heartache I put you through, I’m sorry we didn’t turn out the way you hoped, that I was stubborn. I’m almost there, almost ready to move on, and I think in a few weeks I won’t think of you with pain any more. I liked the last time we were out, you know, at Paradigm. You fit me like an old leather jacket. Instantly comfortable, warm, familiar. I can say with complete honesty, being with you is as natural as breathing to me. But you are gone now. Who knows if we’ll ever truly meet again, with our minds linked like our hands one were, unconsciously moving to the same tune. I can only hope to build a love as true as ours was, but stronger yet.