“Love me, love me. Just say that you love me.”
Syracuse University had offered me a last minute scholarship that would pay for my entire tuition. The offer letter was sent mid-May and I was to start school first week of July. I had about a month and a half to wrap things up on the West coast to prepare for the move. I might have not gone if it wasn’t for the scholarship because there was no way I could afford the $35,000 a year tuition even with school loans. I took it as another fateful sign that this was the path that I was suppose to take.
So, I tied up loose ends with my jobs/internships at Sphere magazine and Student Traveler magazine. Threw huge going away parties for the sake of being the center of attention with good reason. I said my good-byes and told everyone that I would keep in touch and that I would be back sometime in the future with every intention of moving to NYC after finishing up grad school.
Something I didn’t do that I should have done was to tie up loose ends with the boy here at home before I had left. One of the few regrets I wished I had taken care of properly. We talked several times on the phone when I first got to Syracuse but I already knew that I had done some serious damage to our budding relationship, so I let things die out. At the time, I had a handful of new things to attend to and I now know that that was incredibly selfish and unfair of me to do. At the time, I thought I was sparing us both the dramatic overture that would have accompanied a long-drawn out melodramatic confrontation. I’ve since learned from that mistake.
When I first got back into town after graduation, he called me several times to catch up and hang out and I always came up with excuses. I never told him that I was dating someone and had been for almost a year at that point. I just assumed that he had found out through Friendster or heard through the grapevine and he didn’t want to talk about it because he never brought it up. But, I didn’t bring it up either. I figured that I was doing him a favor by not having to make things awkward by talking about it. When in reality, he probably didn’t even have a clue. I am a terrible human being.
My personal motto used to be: I do bad things to good people. I do not deserve to be loved.
But, I can say with good grace that I have changed and become a respectable contributing member of society. I am responsible for my actions and non-actions and act out accordingly. I do whatever it is in my power to right any wrongs that I am responsible for and I make sure to not intentionally or unintentionally hurt anyone or disrespect them in any way.
I arrive in Syracuse, NY June 30, 2004. The very next day I laid eyes on him for the very first time as he ran by getting his jog on and stopped to ask the gathering group, that I was a part of, if he could come along. We were getting ready to hit up the world famous Dinosaur BBQ for dinner. I was on the balcony looking down at him and as I made introductions I thought to myself that this was a very cute boy that I could easily crush on. But, then it proceeded to feel more than just a crush. I had this instantaneous attraction to him. And at the risk of sounding like a moron, this was one of those moments where time froze for a split second and I swear that I had a flash-forward zap of montages of us together in the future. If there is such a thing, I think I just experienced love at first sight.
The next day we went to get our ID pictures taken together, purely coincidental that we left our apartments at the same time and ended up taking the bus to Carousel Mall afterwards. After that day, we were inseparable. We saw each other every day, we went swimming, he tried to teach me how to salsa, we mini-golfed, went bowling, went to a baseball game, and if we weren’t physically together we talked on the phone late into the night. Twenty days later, we were officially dating.
I had never felt that kind of overwhelming emotion for anyone. I was petrified. I tried so hard to resist, telling myself that this was grad school and that I needed to focus and that I didn’t need to get into anything that wasn’t going to last, since we would be going our separate ways after graduation. I’ve always had a practical approach to everything including love. Just to prevent myself from getting invested and then getting hurt. I used to dream of heartbreak and it hurt so much in my dreams that I didn’t want to know what it felt like in real life.
But, it felt so good to be with him that I slowly but surely opened myself up. For the first time ever, I was vulnerable. I let someone else hold my heart in his hands. About a month into our relationship we drove down to NYC with a bunch of friends. The trip was going well. Then we had our first big fight. I’m not sure over what because when we fought he would just ignore me and push me away. I was so confused. What did I do wrong? Then the heartache came. This intense, hollow pain in my heart pounded away and ate away at my soul. The kind of pain I had only dreamed about. It fucking hurt.
I didn’t know what to do so I drank out my frustrations in the hotel room. I hadn’t slept the night before because I couldn’t figure out why he was mad at me. I also didn’t eat anything. I had two shots of vodka and blue curacao that tasted like shit. Numbing shit. I had a bad reaction and felt like I was in a waking dream. Everything was surreal. Things were happening in slow motion and in a third person viewpoint. I passed out and the next thing I knew three hours had passed and it was time to go see Rent. Everyone else had left and he and I were alone in the hotel room. I was still incoherent when he apologized to me. But, he was sincerely sorry. I saw it in his eyes. This was also the night he whispered that he was in love with me for the first time. I gathered enough sobriety from deep down and we headed to the show. He practically had to drag me down to the theatre where I passed out again and missed the entire first act. It’s a good thing I had seen it already or else I would have gotten all upset again that I missed the show.
I had a week at home after the NYC trip to think things through. I tried to convince myself that I didn’t need all this angst and emotional turmoil. But, everything with him just felt right. Everything. From the minute I met him it all felt organic and natural. And for goodness sake, he wants to swim in a pool full of Jello. Who else in their right mind would say that? So, I told myself that I am sticking it out. Wrong choice of words. I want to be with him. I am making the effort. I believe he is worth it.
The minute I got back to Syracuse, I couldn’t wait to see him. I had missed him so much the one week that we were apart.
We were driving back home one night from the bar in a friend’s truck. There were eight people squished in so I ended up sitting in his lap. Edwin McCain’s “I Could Not Ask for More” came on the radio and he sang the words into my ear, my hair blowing in the wind. And we stared into each other’s eyes, oblivious to everything around us. And that is when I felt the surest I had ever felt about anything ever before.
So, this is what love feels like. This is what I had waited so long for and it was worth every second of the wait.