When we considered doing long distance, I was reluctant. I didn’t want us to waste each other’s time in pursuit of an empty “maybe.” I changed my mind on the Fourth of July, sitting on our blanket, funnel cake beside us, the light of the fireworks glowing inside her chocolate eyes. I concluded I would rather we crash and burn than prematurely terminate something that brought us joy just because we were scared. I told her this. She grew silent, looking into my eyes, slightly smiling. I asked what she was thinking. She just smiled wider, shook her head and kissed me. (This would happen a lot — the gentle smile, shaking head. And every time, I would ask what she was thinking, to no avail).
This was two years ago. In April of this year, between the chaos of studying for finals and preparing for the promise of summer, the sprint we had extended into a marathon ended. Ernest Hemingway once said: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Well, I suppose this is me, sitting at my “typewriter,” bleeding.
Pro: Joking about my pain is the most fun I’ve had in a long time. I am naturally self-deprecating, and being dumped provides a plethora of ammunition for me to direct at myself.
Pro: Breakup songs are bangers. I can now say this without a hint of irony.
Con: There are parts of my life I now avoid because they are stained with her. I can’t listen to ABBA or “Hamilton” with quite the same enthusiasm as before. I cannot see my favorite view of the bay or go to Olive Garden or Barnes & Noble without remembering her. I shared parts of myself with her, and though they were once freely given, I now want those parts back.
Pro: I don’t have to go about learning Spanish to talk to her family like I had been planning, which is a relief; I have my own cultural identity crisis to figure out.
Con: I miss her family. They were kind to me. Maybe they loved me more than she did.
Pro: I can splurge on myself with reckless abandon — I just blew a hundred bucks on clothes I don’t need. I don’t have to factor in the “girlfriend cut” from my budget for flowers, anniversary gifts, postage and envelopes, or her Starbucks addiction.
Pro: I’m free. It’s clichéd, but it’s true (which is what makes it clichéd). The relationship had devolved into an anchor rather than a sail. It’s true that she dumped me, but only because I didn’t want to be the one who gave up on us.
Con: I went from having one reliable person I could pour myself into to remembering how soberingly lonely I am in this world. For two whole years, I forgot about my existential dread and fear of being alone, but it has returned as passionately as before, unfazed by its hiatus.
Pro: I am convinced that the reason we love the people we love is because they make us feel a little less lonely. I am confident I did that for her — even if it was only for a short while — because I know she did that for me.
Pro: I will date new people — not soon, but eventually. I will experience the world by tasting it in other people’s mouths, hearing it in the music of their voices, feeling their fingers trace the grooves of my mind. I will fall in love again, as ugly and exciting as that is. Maybe I’ll finally date a Filipina like my mom has always secretly wanted.
Con: There are still things I want to tell her. Some of them sweet. Some of them vile. But no amount of time together could be enough to tell her everything I want her to know. Closure is a lie — I know that. I know I will never have a perfect goodbye, but I am not yet ready to settle for a good one.
Con: I just want her to be happy — another true cliché. It’s a con because I no longer have a say in whether or not she is. It’s no longer my job to love her unconditionally, and I do not know where to put all that love.
Pro: I know that we did our best. I used to think that loving someone hard enough would render distance negligible, but I loved her with everything I had, and well, the distance could not be neglected after all. We didn’t crash and burn like I had thought we might — we fizzled. We didn’t dramatically combust like the fireworks from that night; we disintegrated slowly like the debris that fell to the earth.
Con: I can no longer access her mind in that intimate way she once let me. I will never know when she gave up on us or when she stopped loving me. I will never know what went on in her head all those times she looked me in the eyes, gently smiling, shaking her head, leaning in to bring her lips to mine.
Pro: It’s summer; everything changes. I can take this time to work on myself, to devote the time I would have spent on FaceTime dates and phone calls to culturing myself, reading the books I promised myself I’d read, watching the movies on my watchlist and exploring the Bay. Summer carries with it the promise of “maybes” — different from the one we committed to two years ago, but maybes nonetheless. Maybe I can finally have my K-pop phase. Maybe I’ll get back into anime. Maybe I’ll write that novel. Maybe.
Contact Edrick Sabalburo at [email protected].