In response to your email, yes you absolutely deserve to get over Hunter. You are an intoxicating incandescence – don’t let Hunter put your light under a bushel. That was a spectacular combination of recycled compliments and New Testament parables. But seriously. Isn’t it strange that it’s not the recent year-long roller-coaster relationship that you are recovering from right now, but rather, the whirlwind long-distance romance that preceded it. Strange which ones get you.
In my life, I have to report a life event. Tommy told me he loved me. As in, he did that thing where he said ‘I love you’. Now, we have been broken up for 2.5 months, during which time he has been the best boyfriend he ever was. He emails me daily (his job is dull), he texts me daily (when he is away from his desk), he video-skypes me daily (almost), he calls me daily (not daily, just when the skype connection sucks). So despite the fact that he has moved across the country and abandoned me, it feels like he is not gone. But he is physically back in California for 5 days for a recreational obligation, and he flew in one day early to spend some time with me.
When he got off the train to meet me, it was like no time had gone by. He kissed me, grabbed my hand, and asked what kind of food we were having for dinner because it was 9pm eastern time and he was hella hungry. Enjoy that Eastern-Western paradox. In bed that night, we talked about how we didn’t really miss each other because we were basically still together. We talked about how he never should have left me in California; or how he never should have left California himself. We talked about how long distance would work in theory, about how with his career and my visa issues, we can’t plan the future, because everything is too uncertain. We became distracted from the conversation, then fell asleep – no conclusion reached. Next morning, showers, breakfast, conversation resumed. He said, I think we can do it. It’s hard, it’s uncertain, no light at the end of the tunnel to be seen, but you make me happy, and we have done a great job so far. So, cmon, you gonna be my girlfriend again or what? I said no, it’s not a good idea.
He said, I have to say something. He said, you make me incredibly happy, being around you, talking to you, thinking about you. He said, you are smart, and funny, and beautiful, and perfect to me. He said, if this isn’t love, I don’t know what is. He said, I love you.
I said nothing.
I changed my clothes and jumped on my bike to meet up with friends; he jumped into the cab he had called to take him to his recreational obligation.
Here ends the narrative part and begins the analysis portion.
I have been unable to coherently verbalize or understand my reaction to his admission. The best I can do at this point is list my emotions.
- I did not feel an overwhelming happiness to see him. Probably because I had not missed him, because he had never really been gone.
- I suspected, at night and through breakfast, that he might be gearing up for the get-back-together proposal, and I was dreading it. I experienced the composite feeling of claustrophobia and revulsion that I have felt on other occasions associated with high levels of commitment.
- I felt numb and dead on the inside while he opened his heart to me – and incredibly guilty for my lack of instinctual emotional response.
- I discount his emotions because he is three years younger than me, and I suspect that the intensity derives not from my merits but rather his lack of comparison.
- I have never imagined my life to include him long-term, so the suggestion seems absurd and foreign to me. I have never pictured him meeting my family, I have never pictured our wedding, I have never considered what kind of a father or husband he would make. I have never created in my mind a mental picture of our future. Our whole relationship was built within the context of him leaving California after graduation for a job in New York. Now the context is different and I have to re-imagine a relationship with a future.
- If we make serious compromises to reconfigure our lives for one another, our relationship will come under intense pressure. For example, if he leaves his family and his job and his apartment to move to where I am, then I will feel as though our relationship MUST survive to warrant his sacrifices. He may be resentful.
- A final thought is this: love is not a cerebral exercise but rather a cardiothoracic response. And by that, I mean, the feeling in your chest where you imagine your heart to be. The feeling of overflowing happiness, and a certainty that you are in love. You can’t reason yourself into love. It’s an auto-response, a gut feeling, and an unambiguous sentiment. I am not unambiguous. Therefore, I think I am not in love. Of this much, I am 95% confident (shout-out to statistics). The confusion lies in wondering whether I could or want to fall in love with Tommy.
Tommy and I continue to talk and text. He continues to call me beautiful, tell me he would do anything for me, and remind me that he is thinking of me. I continue to get shivers and goosebumps and nausea as a result. We are broken up, we act like we are together, he said he loved me and I don’t love him back. I’m seeing him tomorrow before he leaves California.
I had hoped to be more clear and articulate on the subject, with a plan for moving forward and moving on, but the truth is that I am completely bamboozled. And for the record, I am using bamboozled here because it is the appropriate word, so please forgive its ridiculousness.
My computer: on the verge. Strict programme of rest and fluids. I’ve actually been turning it off, and I’ll do a software update. I am hopeful!
Wish you were here,