You pulled me away from the girl I had been working toward sleeping with for the last half hour to introduce yourself. There were no lines, no smooth talking. You stuck your hand out, smiled and said, “Hi! I’m Magdalena.” I fell in love with you then. Your easy grin, shy and awkward yet exploding with a confidence far bigger than you’ll ever know, and the raw beauty of the way you carried yourself made me melt. We spoke for four hours that night, long after the party had died out, far after my roommates had begrudgingly left empty-handed. I was convinced we would have talked into the morning had your friend not thrown up behind you, splashing vomit onto our legs. We were too drunk and glowing to care. We laughed. You gave me your number and I tried to kiss you on the cheek as your friend dragged you out of the house. You turned and smiled the smile I would come to associate with the very feeling of happiness. I walked home that night with butterflies pounding against the lining of my stomach, worried they would carry me into the twinkling, wondrous star-filled sky.
I finally built up the confidence to text you. I made fun of your horrible dance moves, and you told me they were your signature style. We bantered back and forth, and I asked if you wanted to grab tea that night. My stomach seized up in a knot when you said yes. My roommates were convinced that you were fake, that you weren’t the dream I had talked up in the day following our encounter. I was terrified they were right, that it was the alcohol making you so alluring in my memory. My fingers shook with nerves as I buttoned up my best flannel shirt, and I anxiously cinched up my belt through my favorite jeans. I checked and double checked myself in the mirror, took a few deep breaths and walked out the door, prepared for the worst.
I thought I would be way too early, but as I approached the shop, I saw you sitting at a table out front, watching me. We made eye contact, and you gave me the smile that made me melt. I was head over heals for you, and I had no idea who you were.
Over the course of the afternoon, and into the evening, I discovered that the girl I had been fantasizing about over the last day and a half fell far short of the girl I was speaking to. I felt as though I had known you forever, and we immediately grew spookily close. Hours after the sun had set, we planned a follow up date for dinner, kissed and parted ways. The whole ride home I couldn’t stop smiling. I wanted to shout out to the world that I had found my one.
You broke up with me. Well, we weren’t really formally together, but you said that it was too soon after your nasty breakup with your ex, and that you hadn’t fully healed. I was bummed, and a little upset, but I understood. These things happen, and I was happy for the time that we had shared.
I hooked up with an intern at an environmental conference because I didn’t want to remember you. You meant more to me than I was willing to admit.
I texted you saying that it would still be nice to be friends. We had too much in common to let whatever we had go by the wayside. I ran into you on campus that day, and you agreed. We planned on being friends.
I had a huge Halloween party at our house. I was dressed up as John Muir, and a girl who came dressed as a hippie was making out with me in the corner. Our breath stank of cheap vodka from a plastic bottle. She pulled herself close against me, and I took her hand and led her through the crowd to my bedroom. When I turned to acknowledge the laughs and jeers from my roommates, I saw you entering the house, dressed as a banana. We made just the briefest of eye contact before I entered my room and shut the door. I was petrified. What would I do? I affirmed the fact that you had broken up with me, and that I was free to do whatever I wanted. I began to take off the hippie’s costume and declared her body a national recreation area. My roommate began banging on my door, and I heard cries and shouts from the party. The cops had shown up to break up the party. I left the half-naked hippie on my bed and ran out to help break up the scene. As I left my room, you were leaving the house. You turned, locked eyes with me and frowned. I’ll never forget the first time I made you sad. I would have done anything to make you smile, but I just watched you walk out the door.
I told you I loved you. After Halloween, I begged you to take me back. I was so thankful that you let me back in.
Day 107, AM:
It seemed arbitrary, but I asked you to me my girlfriend. You threw your head back in laughter, and said yes. You were getting ready to go home for the weekend, and I helped you load your bags into your car. We kissed passionately, and I couldn’t wait to have you back in my arms come Sunday night when you got back into town.
Day 107, PM:
I texted my friend and asked her to come over to watch Lord of the Rings. We opened a bottle of gin. Before the Ringwraiths tore up the Prancing Pony, she was naked in my bed and I was pulling out one of our condoms. I felt an incredible rush in my stomach, fueled by revolting guilt, trepidation and an excitement that scared me to my bones. After she gathered her clothes from the floor the next morning and kissed me goodbye, I sat naked on my bed for an hour, staring wide-eyed at the blank white wall in front of me. What the fuck had I just done. I started shaking uncontrollably.
We celebrated Valentine’s Day together by cooking a delicious meal in my kitchen. We exchanged gifts in my dirty bedroom. We both had midterms to study for and homework to do, but I was so thankful for the time we were able to find for each other. The best gift I could have asked for came in the form of your smile.
We went and saw a movie together. I held hands with you proudly, wearing you like the most comfortable shirt I’ve ever worn. I was beaming the entire time. Being with you in this moment was a gift, and I was cherishing every passing second. Being with you felt like flying.
I told you I was having a movie night with my friends. That was true. But what I didn’t tell you was that I had been texting the Halloween Hippie, and that the hippie had come over midway through the movie. My roommate and I went out to the pool with her and we all stripped down. It was so cold though, so we sprinted into my bathroom with its waiting hot tub. We started massaging each other, and eventually we made our way to my bed. My roommate started making out with her, and she started giving me a hand job. I freaked out. I made eye contact with my roommate and drew my finger across my throat; we had to end this threesome in the making. He caught the drift, and hastily jumped out of my bed. The Halloween hippie lay naked in my bed, pulling on me to join her. I gave in, and lay down beside her. I couldn’t bring myself to do anything, one way or another, so I fell asleep with her kissing the back of my neck. I was so turned on and mortified by my behavior.
I met you for breakfast. I told you that you looked nice and kissed you tenderly upon meeting and departing.
You started drawing attention to my inappropriate friendships with females that I said were just friends. I told you that you were just being jealous and unrealistic.
I met you and your parents for dinner at the Italian restaurant we liked so much. Talks of marriage were tossed around jokingly. I drank from my glass of wine, laughed along and smiled. You were smiling, and it felt real again. I massaged your leg under the table and felt lost in the night with you.
After a meeting for work, a few coworkers stuck around at my place and we had a few beers. We laughed, joked around, and people started going home after a while. One of my friends stuck around longer than the rest and I pulled her into my room to show her my new bike. She kissed me goodbye early the next morning when she left for class. I discretely threw away the underwear she had left behind in a dumpster across the street.
I broke up with you. I told you I was tired of you nagging me because of your jealous tendencies and your overbearing regulation of my friendships. It was the hardest thing in the world to save face in the face of you being completely right about everything about me.
I invited you over for pizza. After exchanging emails expressing our deep-seated love for one another, we found that we couldn’t live without the other person in our lives. This came after we both spent the last month dating other people—people whom made us feel a self-proclaimed deeper appreciation for love. The reason we went back to each other was the deeper longing we had for the familiar. We both acknowledged that we shouldn’t be together. That what we had felt wrong, forced and generally incompatible with what we each were looking for. However, that didn’t change the way we felt for each other. You requested that I buy garlic sauce.
I’d just returned from Germany, and you were mad that I wasn’t making more of an effort to visit you in Tucson. I told you that I’m spending time with my family, and that I’d see you soon.
We met for dinner and made small talk. It was nice to be back with you, but we felt distant. I started work the next day in Tucson, and you were upset I’d be gone for a week at a time on the trail. We headed to your house and went to sleep early.
Day 399, AM:
You asked if I want to come over to talk. I said no. I told you there’s more about me that you don’t know. There’s more than what I’ve already told you.
Day 399, PM:
I detailed over email every instance of my disloyalty over the last two years. From the first night I asked you to be my girlfriend, to the last summer in Germany when I slept with several of my coworkers. It was the hardest thing I’d ever done to be so honest. Writing out the email made me realize how much I needed help and how poorly I treated you in the face of unconditional love, tireless patience and a complete opening up to me. I can only imagine how bad knowing the truth hurt you.
You called me a disgusting pig, a disgrace, less than human. I agreed.
Over email, you explained that you can’t help me and that you never want to see or speak to me again.
You stuck to your word. I’ll never stop being sorry.
It’s a horribly cruel part of growing up to realize that A) you have control of your life and actions, and B) those actions directly affect the people in your life. I never thought about the repercussions of what I did to you. For me, it was an intense desire to feel love and attention and to have affirmation that the person I was could be the subject of another’s desire. It was a desperate ploy, and only standing outside of our relationship leads me to see how absurd and wrong I had been. In the face of your love and support, I refused to see the reality of the way you felt and instead made the conscious decision to be selfish and cruel to satisfy my own needs. Admitting fault is something I was never good at, but considering this a fault would be to laughably understate the most important misgiving I’ve ever experienced.
We are presented with so many options and opportunities to create a life we believe we would be best suited for, even when we have no idea what kind of life it is we need. It’s sensory overload, and it can be easy to become subdued by its intensity. With this kind of selection available, whether it be schools, jobs, friends, relationships, cities, it’s typical to be overwhelmed with the ever-present allure of the new. In our fast-paced, disconnected society, with Tinder, and Amazon delivering right to your door within hours, when can we consider (and truly believe) that what and who we have is enough to be happy? The greatest irony of all is that I tried desperately to fill a void in my life that was occupied by exactly what I was trying to fill it with. I’m lead to believe then, that the only way to disconnect from the unhappiness is to disconnect with the problem, and be aware that the problem is a problem in the first place.
I’ve found another companion in my life, and with this new perspective, I’ve found myself far happier than I could have imagined before. I can happily say that in the five months we have been together, I haven’t hooked up with, flirted or even implied any sort of romantic interest with another human. The feelings that I experience with her are real, and I have a strong feeling that the growth I’ve experienced since leaving you will carry her and I through life for a long time. The person I am is not the person I was, though I will carry with me the remorse and guilt of my actions against you for a long time as well.
In conclusion, I offer you, and every woman I’ve used along the way, the most sincere apology I can muster. An apology will never be enough.