We had met when I was 17, back in the days when MySpace was still a thing. I can still remember the day he walked into the coffee shop I worked at and I had finally mustered up the courage to do more than ask him what he wanted to drink. Eager to impress him by remembering his order, I asked if he’d like his venti white mocha. “Nailed it!” I thought.
“No, that’s okay, just a coffee,” he replied.
Embarrassed, I turn my back to pour him a coffee.
And that was the start of it, that was the beginning of the next nine years of my life.
It was what I guess you could call young love. I hadn’t had a ton of boyfriends in my past and my more recent past included falling for the wrong people, too much time with the wrong boys and a lot of heart ache that could have been avoided – we’ll call that dumb love.
I had felt like I had fallen out of my place and was trying to find where I fit back in.
It was possibly that strong sense for identity, that lead me to ask him if he was my boyfriend after our first kiss. It was probably that strong sense to be liked that led me to tell him I needed to know so I could tell my friends.
While things were bright and fun right from the start, I was also called obsessive, crazy and clingy. The amount of time I wanted to spend with him was too much, my want to hang out after we had just done something was pushing it – his opinion, not mine. I learned to accept his desires, his wants and eventually even his life style. He said he didn’t want my life centered around his, but somehow he slowly weaved it into just that. My time outside of school and work began to revolve around him. I continued to find myself drifting further and further from the people I had called my friends and was slowly being absorbed into his.
On March 27, 2007 I received my college acceptance letter. I was thrilled and excitement level in the house somehow out weighted the celebration of my brother’s birthday.
He congratulated me that day, begrudgingly. I was leaving him, just like everyone else, he explained, going through the list of friends who had moved away for school, opportunities or other life paths, it wasn’t fair to him.
We broke up before I left for college that summer.
The next year and half was a mixture of more than friends, dating and not.
April 16, 2008 we weren’t together, but we weren’t not together. It was my birthday and after my shift at work, my friends and I giggled as we ventured the dark streets of the city late at night on our way to a playground. I celebrated turning 19 swinging on the swings, spinning in the spiny cups and sliding down slides. The night ended and the next morning began to make its way in. Standing outside my dorm, in the cool breeze of the spring night, he wished me a happy birthday and told me how he had another girl over that afternoon. How they were going to just watch a movie, but then they ended up fooling around. Happy freaking birthday to me.
Over the next few weeks, trapped in my own jail of poor choices and no money, I made friends who cared, was finding my footing and was starting to feel like I could do this college thing. He told me not to trust them, that he didn’t like me hanging out with them, he had me choose between him and them… I chose him.
In time, I moved back home to finish out college closer by. I made new friends and continued to remain close with his. We dated and didn’t. People assumed we were together, because it was easier that way.
He never said, “Heather, I need you to change your life for me.” Much to the opposite, he told me he didn’t want something serious, that he didn’t know what he wanted. Yet, some how, he always still stole center stage.
Towards the end of our nine year run, I was beginning to feel more like we were roommates. I didn’t want to be intament with him, but I was also to bashful to say no. If we were physical, I was usually left feeling ashamed, dirty and cheap. He didn’t touch me. My asks for hugs became a joke. Things that I was struggling with or really cared about were things for him to poke fun at.
I had gone from a bright fun spirit, to someone who felt like they were struggling to just make it by. I put on the face everyone expected when I left the house. At home, we acted more like buddies than we did lovers. Little things seemed to make me irrationally mad, which lead to a feeling of shame and embarrassment. I was frustrated. I was confused. I was hurt, broken and beaten down.
At some point it all slipped away from me, everything that I had been before, the things that made me me. The light inside of me, the smile on my face. I felt alone and abandoned as the things around me began to change. My stomach turned at the thought of having to go home and face him. Deep down, I made myself sick thinking about continuing to put up with it.
We had fallen so far apart. I had fallen so far away from me. His last day at the house, I couldn’t stand to be touched by him. I sat at the other end of the couch as he played video games. He finally stopped and asked me to talk. “I don’t think I love you any more,” I whispered choking back tears, “I think I need space.”
He packed a bag and walked out of the house that day. It was our final break up.