I will never forget when he took me out and he bought me ice cream, even though he wasn’t having any himself. I will never forget the cutesy pun pickup line, cuddling while watching Cops and art documentaries, the 3 a.m. messages, “are you still up?”
I will never forget how hard I cried while watching "Les Mis" after we broke up.
We were middle school sweethearts. He had a crush on me in seventh grade. I knew because he told my best friend. He was, and still is, the type of person that’s quite shy and introverted until he’s comfortable, so naturally, there was a marginal chance anything would have come of his puppy love. But, we slow-danced at our school semiformal. I will never forget his spindly, shaking fingers on my waist.
After becoming friends though a mutual friend in eighth grade, we started “dating,” or whatever that might happen to consist of at age 14. I will never forget when he kissed me in the stairwell after school. How he hyped up some supposedly mysterious “special surprise,” as if I didn’t already know what it was. How he didn’t know that it was my first kiss.
Of course, due to pathetic middle school drama that I honestly haven’t been able to recall for years now, we broke up. Sad. I was angry and hurt and I got over it rather quickly.
Never once did I hate him for whatever happened between us. I did not feel vindictive. I defied my own hot-headed personality.
We casually Facebook messaged throughout high school, periodically checking in, discussing music or other random things. In the summer before senior year, he asked me if I wanted to hang out sometime, “to clarify, I think you’re eggcellent,” with a picture of two hugging fried eggs. I will never forget how we watched Netflix (before it became Netflix and Chill), exchanged jokes of questionable taste, and talked deeply. It was really great.
But the baggage, oh the baggage. On both sides. Neither of us were in the best of places, battling personal demons and fighting ourselves and our friends and our families. It was the wrong time for either of us to try and give each other that bit of yourself you keep hidden away. It was the wrong time with the wrong person.
Yes, it ended in tears. It ended with a long, out-of-state phone call, leaving him numb and feeling as if he’d just accidentally run over the neighbor’s cat with his car. I was the neighbor.
Instead of wallowing in self-pity, instead of building a wall, instead of starting a Cold War, I talked to my friends, and I watched "Les Mis." I will never forget how hard I cried when Anne Hathaway died. I can never forget how I pulled myself together.
I could never hate him. I admire the way his mind operates, I respect what he thinks, how he feels, his life, his family, and all the events that have shaped him into who he is. I know it would never have worked out, our outlooks on life are much too different, but I will never stop wishing the best for him in everything that he does.
After we broke up, we talked casually for a while. One day, out of the blue, he messaged me about books and this writer named Charles Bukowski. I borrowed his copy of Bukowski’s novel "Ham on Rye" and a collection of poems. Bukowski is now one of my favorite authors.