On an April day he left a note on my car, and it took me a whole day to figure out who it was from.
But I am getting a little bit ahead of myself.
I was working at a music store, trying to go to school, and missing Colorado. I was always cold from the inside as if my bones were frozen, and I had one goal: to starve. I was dating "Clark," who I'll talk about more some other day. The seductive cold gripped me and wouldn't let go, and I began to get very, very ill. I was weak; I couldn't stand to leave my tiny apartment. At work, I wore a winter coat and two of everything: sweaters, pants, hats. The manager saw that I was in pain and didn't say a word about my weird uniform.
It was February, and Valentine's day was looming. I was getting tired of Clark and his habits, his cheesiness, but felt that I was too nice to break his heart directly. I avoided him like any rational girl would do. Which was difficult, considering he worked with me. I thanked him as sincerely as I could for the giant ugly teddy bear and begged off for the night, claiming fatigue. I wasn't stretching the truth very much--I felt like death. The next day, I hung around in the manager's office helping a co-worker process a shipment. We talked about Colorado, and food, and music. I went home, and my body gave in. For the next week, I stayed in bed, calling the store every day and sleeping on the living room floor, only getting up to force myself into the gym. I vaguely remember an emergency room, an IV, blood. After two weeks, I knew I was never going back to work there. It was a relief. No more Clark. No more freezing. No more thinking.
Sometime in March, I started to go back to school. I got a job at a gym. I had a life again. I was still sick, but not hospital-sick.
Some day in April, I went to Wild Oats. I wanted a cake but I bought a tea. I decided to go to the Barnes and Noble down the street. As I pulled out of the Wild Oats lot, I noticed a scrap of paper under my windshield wiper. Thinking it was nothing, I kept driving. After parking at the bookstore, I pulled the paper off and looked at it. It was a note, expressing concern. There was a name and phone number on the bottom. "OP," I thought. "Who is OP?"
Two days later, I called the number and realized just exactly who OP was. OP was the cute co-worker who talked to me all day in the manager's office on my last day at the music store. He remembered everything I had said, and grew concerned after my sudden departure. Since he lived in the next state (my city is on a state line) I wondered what he was doing in a random affluent suburb over an hour away from his home. He really didn't offer an explanation. To this day I wonder how exactly he recognized my car. But it doesn't matter.
OP and I had the kind of first date that you want to last forever. He actually opened up, which is rare for a guy, in my experience. I had too much coffee, and when I stared longingly at the ice cream he held my hand and said "Look at me instead." He understood. He walked me to the door and kissed me goodnight, and as he drove off, I watched until his taillights disappeared into the traffic on Manchester.
The next night, I was carrying some shopping bags up the stairs, daydreaming as usual. "Wouldn't it be nice if there were flowers and a note on my doormat?" I had absolutely no reason to think that there would be; I have a tendency to fantasize randomly. As I got up to my floor, I saw a weird shadow. "NO WAY," I thought. "NO. FUCKING. WAY."
I got to my door, dropped the shopping bags, and looked down. There, on the mat, was a bouquet of Gerbera daisies, and beneath them, an envelope. In the envelope was a card that was just this side of sappy. I called OP right away, and when he came over, I knew we would be together.
At some point, I asked him to move in. He did. We spent nights watching "Pulp Fiction" or driving around or just talking. He told me he loved me. I really did love him. He played "Never Tear us Apart" by INXS for me. He would bring me sugar free popsicles at the gym. He would make my diet hot chocolate exactly the way I liked it. He held my hand in public, he laughed at my jokes, he organized my closet. We made plans to move away together. We shared cars, cigarettes, a bed.
I had no idea that my jealousy would completely tear us apart.
He had an ex. Doesn't everyone? I could tell that he thought that someday, they would be back together. I had never met her, but I hated her. We fought about her more times than I can remember.
And then I did something stupid. I went on a date with another guy. "Writing to Reach You" was a member at the gym. He gets his own story, but he must be mentioned here.
I wrote about him in my diary. OP found it, read it, and left. I didn't understand why he was so sad; I still believed that I was just a replacement for his ex until she came back.
I think that of everyone, he is the one I hurt the most. And the one I regret the most. Jealousy is toxic. It tries to disguise itself as something else, but it is always the black death of something good that you actually have. Don't confuse it with envy, the emotion that surfaces when you covet something that someone else has. Jealousy can only be felt for something that is already yours, and therefore makes a mess of everything by removing the one thing that caused it in the first place.
The end was sad. I think I tried to patch things up, but he wasn't receptive. I will never really know how he felt, or where he is now, or why I acted the way I did. I can only try to remember all the things that made me happy, and hope he does the same.