You remember sitting there at that bar on some idle weekday before the end of the term – in spring, when the snow was melting – at the end of the night, and it was just the two of you, like it always was. He has already broken your heart. Your goal is to make him feel guilty. So you tell him: when I was a kid… and he listens, and he tells you you’re funny and smart and awesome. It comforts you for a moment, but it doesn’t change anything. He walks you home (he always walks you home) and you’re sad your tragedy didn’t help him see you were ‘the one’. And you feel so guilty about that, you want to die.
The summer comes with it an emptiness and loneliness you’ve never felt before. You feel on the verge of something big, but also mourning the loss of something big. You’re unemployed, depressed, you’re having problems walking because of your sudden and excessive weight gain. How long have you loved him, how long have you lusted for him and how long have you hated him? It all blurs together in four long wasted months of nothingness and sorrow. You cry when your favourite flip-flops break, the ones you’ve had since your first year of undergrad. This is a sign that things are horribly wrong. You have no idea when they’ll get better. You pray for them to every day even though you’re not religious.
The only saving grace that summer is the Ryan Adams & Oasis double-bill at Rexall Place. You watch the show and in that moment you’re a child again, loving life and embodying something young and fun and passionate you thought was gone forever. In that moment music sets you free of the sorrow that has become you for long, weighty painful months. You feel like yourself again. The day passes. And everything is the same again when the sun rises.
The fall brings with it painful truths that things feel the same between you and him, but they are not the same. Your then-best friend moves across the country. Your other then-best friend has graduated university. And you’re still stuck being a student for another lonely, broke, heartbroken eight months of meaningless essays and writing you don’t care about. Working on your first novel occupies your time, but you still remain in a prison – of looking into the face of the person who gutted you like a caught fish, and left you to struggle and rot in the hot sun, in the dry air.
For Christmas, you give him a very elaborate gift that represents everything you feel about him. He thanks you, and that’s it. You’re broken and you ask yourself what you’re doing here and how being handcuffed by this man has become your life. There aren’t words to express how trapped you feel anymore. You tried to write out everything you wished and hoped for you; you did everything you could to try and re-create the magic you had months and months ago; you wished on 11:11 and shooting stars and stayed on ichat for hours just hoping to see him online. And when he was online you were scared to talk to him. You prayed that he would talk to you, and he didn’t.
By the next summer, you know he doesn’t think you’re pretty, he’s not interested in you that way, he ignores you, he slips away and has a summer fling with some other girl you’ve never met, don’t want to meet and whenever you see evidence of her on social media, you’re reminded of how ugly and worthless and unworthy of love you really are. You wonder if there is anyone in the world ever, who will see you the way you wish he would see you.
When you make the decision to never speak with him again, he is on the phone with that ‘summer fling’. She asks who he’s with that night and he says, “nobody important” and that’s when you know you can’t bear this cross anymore. He leaves your apartment, you close your door, and this is the last time you ever speak with him. He is not your friend, he does not care about you, he is not concerned for your well-being, and it’s in this moment that you know what a fool you’ve been. You’ve hit rock bottom. You can’t get any lower than this moment. To this day, seven years later this moment stands out as one of the times you’ve felt the most worthless and hurt in your life. Looking back, you can’t believe this person had the power to make you feel that small. It sickens you.
You realize with maturity, fulfilling love and cutting bad blood out of yourself and your life, that your first heartbreak is the hardest thing you’ll ever go through in your life. When it happened it felt like a gunshot wound straight through your midsection. You never thought anything could hurt that much. You were in millions of tiny shards of broken glass, left wondering how you of all people were picked out by the universe to feel that way.
But once you realize this, something snaps inside of you. You feel invincible, impervious to pain, let go of the fear of getting hurt. Because you’ve felt it. You’re still alive. You’re still breathing. In fact, you’re more alive than ever. That was the purest and most open wound. So much so you sit here, years later still writing about it as if it happened yesterday. Because you understand that you have the capacity to feel the highest highs and the lowest lows of falling in love and losing love, and that is as comforting as it is surprising.