“So, I’ll see you on Monday, yeah?”
“What’s happening on Monday?”
“We’re going out.”
I laughed because I didn’t know what else to do. I loved that you were so confident. Later, in retrospect, I realized you had mistaken my harmless flirtations out of boredom as intent. But at that time, your self-assurance swept me away. We’d barely had two conversations and I wondered why you were interested. Being the self-acclaimed neurotic, I immediately said no, because that confidence only meant you asked out people regularly. And I didn’t want to waste my time with someone like that. I was a lot more sensitive and not as easy going as I may seem. But you laughed, refusing to take a no for an answer, and I had no choice.
But, I was glad that I went.
I hadn’t been on a first date, ever. I was 20 years old. I changed a few times because I wanted to feel sexy and confident. I wanted to impress you, even though I wasn’t eager about being in a relationship. I tried to stop thinking, tried to reassure myself that this was a fun, normal experience. That it was all part of growing up, and it wasn’t serious, that it didn’t mean anything. We got confused about where we were going to meet, but you finally figured where I was waiting, and came to me. You hugged me, and I remember feeling so awkward. We walked to your car. You teased me about having two jobs, that I was secretly a single mother. I laughed because I didn’t expect you to be so witty.
The first place you took me was to your apartment. Well, your parent’s condo in one of the most expensive real estate areas in one of the most expensive cities in the world. The elevator made me nervous, since it showed right away that we did not view money the same way. I was also nervous because I didn’t know you, and you were taking me to your apartment. But, you just wanted to change. Later, during dinner, I was glad you did. You wore a maroon shirt, with a blazer. I was wearing jeans with a fancy top.
I remembered thinking that I’d waited so long for a guy who treated me this well. That it was finally my turn at love – where I didn’t wait by the phone to get a message, where I kept wondering whether you liked me. No, you made it all so easy. You were upfront and such a gentleman. You picked me up, dropped me back home, took me to your favourite restaurant by the harbour. Later, we walked by the harbour and I wanted to kiss you, but I didn’t. I barely knew you.
Also, I was going home for the holidays and didn’t want to feel anything. That didn’t happen. All I thought about was you, and how you seemed so perfect. Not perfect, but perfect for me. You were smart, you kept the conversation going, you were charismatic, appeared to be traditional. I looked at everything that we shared in common and convinced myself that I liked you. I had fantasized versions of you in my head, and was falling in love with every one of them.
We decided I’d arrange the second date. I took you to a bar, because I wanted it to be more casual. I learnt that you have a really low tolerance for alcohol. I realized I wanted you to see my casual side, that I’m not someone who is high-maintainance. We got so drunk, and took the bus to your place. I remember how obnoxious we were, talking loud enough so that everyone could hear. I sat next to the window, you blocking me from the rest of the world. You laughed at my jokes, and I did to yours. You gave me pyjamas to wear. They didn’t really go with my navy blue satin shirt, but it didn’t matter. I gasped as I saw the view from your parent’s apartment. I wondered how much they paid for it. I wondered whether you cleaned it or whether you had help. I wondered if you cooked or if you ordered take-out.
I remember sweating on your bed. It was so hot. And then, I opened the window, with you on top of me, kissing me. I wanted you to stop, because you didn’t know how to kiss. I had mixed feelings – relief that you weren’t a player, realizing you were more inexperienced than I’d anticipated. However, I let you continue, because I hadn’t felt any physical touch in so long. I tried to imagine being in a fantasy, in which there was much more intimacy, because that’s all I craved. Finally, I had to tell you to stop three times, before you did.
At that point, I was truly scared. I wondered if I would become the kind of story I loved reading about. But, you finally listened. Later, I tried to convince myself that you were just to turned on to stop. In the morning, you jokingly called me a tease, that you would be frustrated all day. I told you that there were solutions, that your release wasn’t my problem.
Already, I had started to like you less.
But, it was only date two. I knew I was too picky. I liked being adored, the centre of your attention. So, I decided that these things needed time to grow. Besides, you made me laugh. You understood that I was difficult. You understood that my playful teasing and hating only showed home much I liked you.
The next few months were a blur. We went to a movie with friends, where all you wanted to do was smell my neck, and kiss me, and I actually wanted to watch, that I was too shy to make out in front our friends. We went for wings and beer, and you watched these guys check me out, before you held my hand publicly. You drove me home when I got drunk with my friends, and then dropped all my friends home too. You brought me oranges when I was sick, when I didn’t want you to see me sick and ugly. You picked me up after my midterm on Valentine’s day, to take me to your favourite restaurant, where you’d taken me for our first date.
You came to my small birthday dinner. I had been so upset that night because people had cancelled and my own family hadn’t wished me. I broke down on the bus on the way, but didn’t tell you about it. But, you stuck there all night, trying to get to know all my friends. We shared a plate, and you didn’t drink because you had to drive. When I went to the washroom, you paid, like you had done once before. I let you take me to your place. You held me all night, and I liked your hand on my waist, my stomach. You made me breakfast in the morning, and walked me to class.
Once, I had to get a blood transfusion. We’d only been dating a month, and I didn’t want to tell you. But, we were supposed to do something, and I couldn’t lie. I told you not to come because I was depressed, because I’d been crying. I wanted to be alone and miserable and lonely. But, you came, just before I was released at midnight. You had researched places that were still open and took me, knowing I’d be starving. It was the coziest, most romantic little place, few blocks from the waterfront. I had a glass of wine, and stared at you from the light of a single candle. You told me I was beautiful, although before then, I had been to repulsed from my skin. You walked me to my apartment, making sure I was home safe. I wanted to cry because nobody (except my parents, and they don’t count) had ever cared about me like that. You texted me good night and good morning, asking if I needed anything, how I was feeling. For the first time, I felt like my disorder wouldn’t completely destroy a future of normalcy. That, I could find someone someday who would accept me, low hemoglobin count, pale skin, fatigue and all.
Once, we met a mutual coworker in the movies, holding hands. She had stood there not hiding her shock. And, I had told her how pretty her eye-make was because I had nothing else to say. Later, she asked me if we had had sex yet. We laughed and bitched at and about her for hours. She really wasn’t a very nice person. A few weeks later, you had told another mutual coworker about us. He was someone I considered an older brother, and he told me in our common language how happy he was for me.
And then we started spending hours in the backseat of your car, making out. With your mom visiting, and my roommate and incredibly thin walls, there was nowhere else to go. You were so eager for any permission I gave, as if I had just made you rich, that I was comfortable with you. I was comfortable as myself, not drunk, not as a one night stand. When I was spent, and you weren’t, I called it a night and told you to text me when you got home.
It took me a month to break up with you.
I had to justify it to myself. I wanted a different sort of relationship, one filled with intellectual thoughts and ideas, not just playful nonsensical bantering. I wanted the kind of passion where I had to kiss you before I said hi, not the kind where I got bored during the kiss. I wanted a relationship where I couldn’t wait for everyone to meet you, not the kind where I had to keep wondering whether you’d fit in. I didn’t want to hold your hand all the time, and you looked like a lost puppy when I told you, which only pushed me away further. I kept telling you about the goals I was meeting, the goals I was working towards, and you didn’t seem to have that. Or if you did, you never shared. You were content with mediocrity, with your parents paying for your luxurious lifestyle, with not really working towards self-improvement.
Finally, I convinced myself that I could never love you.
Although, I still believe that to be true, being with you made me believe in things I never did before.
Being with you made me realize how a girl should always be treated, that honestly good guys exist.
I know I hurt you, but I would have hurt you more if I had stayed.