unresolved

The Bartender buys a toothbrush to keep at my house back in May, during our second date. This is a bold, terrifying move and I’m not sure what to do with it. He tells his best friend and gets back a message that says “Oh man, you’re already in love with her.” The words feel like a punch in the gut that I’m not ready for, but I laugh nervously and allow the punch to also take down some of the walls around my heart.

I tell The Bartender that I am leaving for the summer and I see us hesitate. Across continents and time zones, what is the point? Unexpectedly, he tells me okay and we spend seven weeks sharing stories and secrets over spotty internet connections. We are missing out on each other’s everyday lives, but it doesn’t seem to matter. And I haven’t felt closer to or safer with someone in a long time.

I change my flight to come back to Houston three days early, which is not much but feels absolutely necessary after being away from him for so long. I am nervous as The Bartender picks me up in my car from the airport, but it seems to be exactly what I was expecting. Exactly what we kept telling each other it would be during those long weeks apart.

He breaks up with me three days later, and I am inconsolable in my confusion. Three days after that, we give it another shot at my urging.

School starts and work picks up. Stress levels peak and a routine is established that works more often than not. We fight, we compromise, and we usually fix things a little too late, but we also make plans, laugh a little too much, and spend days together when I feel nothing but total and complete happiness.

On Labor Day I drive us back to his place after spending most of our long weekend hosting a pool party at my house. He tells me that he wants to spend the night alone after we cook dinner together, and though I mock-complain, I admit that I’m excited for a night sprawled across my whole bed. At one point, we argue briefly about whether to sign up for an obstacle-style 5K race in March—though the argument includes absolutely no trepidation about making plans for six months in the future. Later, as I get ready to go, he asks me to stay over anyway. This means an extra 15 minutes on my commute at 5:30 in the morning, but I give in instantly because it also means one more night spooned up against him.

The Bartender breaks up with me that next Sunday—one day after we talked presents and vacations and kissy face emojis. I need to be independent right now, he says, and I know he’s serious because I see him cry for the first and only time. I try to fight him on this, but I have nothing. “Go do your independencey thing,” I tell him confidently, “and then come back to me. But don’t take too long, because I can’t wait.”

One week later he tells me he wants a clean break to avoid any residual emotions and I can feel my head start to spin. This is different, this is odd, this feels wrong and off and fake, and as I keep uncovering more and more questions, now I feel the fight coming up in me. I finally try to ask him about it in a long email, and he disappoints me in the greatest way with silence. I believe in words above all things, and he won’t even give me that, not even for the clarity and closure I so desperately crave after a complete 180. This blatant and sudden callousness is what I am most sad about—that maybe I was completely wrong about him after all. That maybe I’ll just have to live with never knowing. That maybe we’ll both have to live with this unsatisfying ending to what was such an overall positive relationship with such promise.

—–

I am really bad at break-ups. I think I always knew this, but I am only now ready to openly admit it: I can’t be on either side of a break-up without causing a mess. I think breaking up feels too close to quitting, which is not easy for me because I don’t do it… pretty much ever. Overly optimistic, I believe in compromise and forgiveness and chances and self-improvement. I believe in honesty and trust, and that as long as you have those things, just about anything can be overcome. And I believe in loyalty—that people don’t just wake up one morning and no longer love the person they loved yesterday.

But I also believe in self-respect. I believe that promises should not be broken and communication is essential. I believe in listening and sharing and as close to equality as possible. I believe in friendship and family and independence and balance. And I believe that if something is wrong, you should talk about it.

My heart hurts from this, more than I expected. From disappointment, confusion, lost opportunities, lost love, and unanswered questions. But I also believe in time—as much as I hate seeing it pass. And I believe that things happen as they should, when they should. So I guess I’ll just have to keep waiting.

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i wouldn’t change a thing

Everyone knew her but didn’t at the same time. She’d lived all over, a lot of it in Texas, and her standard line whenever she did anything you might want to frown on, was “That’s how they do it in Texas.” No matter what she did, it was OK, because that’s how they did it in Texas.

coming down

I come home after a month of traveling and I feel a little bit angry with myself. More than a vacation but less than a sabbatical, I found myself torn between the two extremes and making choices that didn’t exactly suit either one. I write half of a blog post describing the differences in flowery language but can’t find a clear enough point to make it worth posting.

That’s not to say my trip was bad by any means, just that “short-term” travel requires a different type of preparation, one that I feel much better about when I already start thinking about next summer.

—–

I fall in love with The Bartender at precisely the same moment that he falls out of love with me and I can’t help feeling that this will continue to be a sick, twisted trend in my life. Most people seem to add up to more than the sum of their parts, but I am finding it harder and harder to believe about myself each time I manage to push another person out of my life after a very short period of bliss. This scares me considerably more than being single again.

twenty-seven

The Bartender asks me why I haven’t been updating my blog more since I’ve been in Peru. I tell him it’s because I don’t write as much when I’m happy. I’m not sure if that completely sums up this past year, but I wouldn’t change anything.

Back in my stable life, I finally learned to let go of some of the most toxic relationships in my life and I feel lighter than ever. I built stronger bonds with my students than I thought possible, and I spent my time cultivating relationships that are two-sided, honest, and important to me.

And then I left—again—to remind myself that I can take care of myself, that I don’t need more than I can carry, that I trust strangers and love challenges, and that new places are full of beautiful surprises.

The Bartender is a much bigger believer in monogamy than I am—I guess it takes longer than a year to erase past disappointments. But even at three weeks apart, he is as loyal and affectionate as ever. It’s strange to feel like I have so much to come back for.

I think I’m going to like twenty-seven.

wanderlust

I arrive in Lima at 11pm and feel anxious for about 20 minutes, before I situate myself at the hostel rooftop bar and get invited to a party. I get back to the hostel at 6am the next morning, and spend my first day in Peru lounging off my Pisco Sour hangover.

I plan to stay in Lima for a few days before heading south toward Cusco, but I am quickly convinced by a nameless Israeli boy with an irresistible smile to go north instead. Within an hour, I have cancelled my hostel reservation and booked the night bus to Huaraz for five days of trekking in the Andes.

I’ve missed this.

hope

The Bartender has also become a four-letter word—his name. This is unusual for me, and he teases me with every botched introduction.

He’s just okay, I tell my friends, but they know I’m lying.

My fourth year of teaching ends today and I leave in four days for the summer. I’ll be gone for 48 days (if you’re counting), which is probably about the same amount of time that we’ve known each other.

So this is silly and strange and I’m skeptical about our poor timing and mismatched schedules and very different lifestyles, but he fights me with more four-letter words—ones like miss and wait and keep.

new contact

This one calls me darling and dear, and shows up in my bedroom at 4 in the morning after he finishes his bartending shift. We choose our words cautiously as we shyly begin to intersect our lives, and it is frustrating and uncertain and a little bit exciting. This is what it is to actually date normally, though, when you’re not living out of a backpack.

I don’t think I like it.

Too soon, I let the perfect amount of liquid courage lubricate my mind and my wonderings slip out. A remnant from before—when unclear titles became expensive quickly—I want to know what this is. I need to know just how much I should let myself want this.