It shouldn’t be this way.

I drove on 650 with my windows down for an hour after the movie was done. It’s a cold summer night after a quick rain. I’m chasing lightnings, but I’m not fast enough.

Where are you? Not here. That’s all I care about.

I don’t ask for much. Actually, I have a pretty low standard of happiness. I’m very easily pleased. But why is it that you, or I, or we are still not meeting that minimum? Are you happy? Because I’m not.

And maybe that’s the problem here. Maybe I do too much and in return I expect a little more. And I get nothing. Where’s the effort? Where’s the gratitude? Maybe I’m being shallow or materialistic or a drama queen or needy. I don’t know what other word there is except for unhappy.

I had a crappy day and you were nowhere to be found. No, you weren’t busy. You were watching Jurassic Park with friends, all day. I am begging for attention, driving by to pick up my jacket, bringing you Slurpees because I feel like that’s the only way I deserve your attention – when I’m giving you something or doing something for you. It shouldn’t be that way.

And I understand that you’re tired and couldn’t drive me home. I wish you had said something earlier. I wish you had told me so I could have driven myself, or taken your car. I had to get a ride from someone else and everything was ok. Except that I felt abandoned.

It gets incredibly lonely being your girlfriend sometimes. I think you forget that you have a girlfriend whenever you’re in that house. And I love hanging out with them. They are really fun to be with. But you only remember me when you’re lonely in your Baltimore apartment, when you have an empty clump of time to fill. Then you ask me to show up.

I don’t really know what to expect, and I don’t know what change I want to happen. But I don’t want to read your messages that include “I love you,” and think to myself, “Do you, though?” Because I think you just like having a girlfriend when it’s convenient.

I don’t miss you. And that’s a troubling thought. I used to look at you and talk to you and miss you so much even though we just saw each other. Or be so busy but still see each other but not have alone time, and I’d look at you and I’d hold your hand, and I would miss you so much. If you had looked in my eyes, you’d see me longing and begging for you.

Now, I look at you, and I feel nothing. I feel resentment, I guess. Maybe some frustration. But there is no affection. I rather not even look at your eyes. I used to hold on to your hand and lace my fingers with yours, and it felt like your fingers melted with mine. Now your fingers feel forced, and a burden. My hands are not interested.

I’m not jealous, although I get jealous often. But I know when to shut up and turn that off when it’s ridiculous. I’m not jealous. I’m lonely, and I feel used, and I feel like a place holder. And quite frankly, I’m running out of things to do for you and give you to get your affection. I don’t really know what else to do.

So I’m telling you this. Because we’re in trouble here.

What I Know

I don’t know much about politics,  or American history, or history in general. But I know that when your face changes from a chuckle and a smile to complete terror when we’re driving, you’re about to slam on your breaks and I should brace myself. I don’t know half of the American presidents, or even a third of them (let’s be real), but I know the veins that run through your arms so well that I’m confident they’re more familiar to me than my own. I can’t tell you where Israel is on a map, or really even Nebraska, but I know your smile feels like summer – warm, easy, comforting. And when that smile evolves into a laughter, it sounds carefree, full of abandon.

I don’t know beers like you do. I have no idea what IPA stands for, or what it is exactly. But I do know the color of the sky, that specific pink and orange, that night we sat on the porch of our new house as we ate pizza and said hi to everyone walking their dogs. I remember that perfect shade of blue on my birthday when we went to the lake near your parents’ house. I may not always remember which type of beer you like, but I always remember the orange glow of the streetlamp at night outside my room as it peeks through my curtains, during those nights I would lie so close to you I couldn’t tell your heartbeat apart from mine.

I will l never master Chemistry, Biology, Medicine, or Nursing. But I know that your presence helps me breathe. I will never forget the way your hair feels between my fingers, the way your tongue dances with mine, the way you gently but firmly grab the back of my neck. I will never let myself forget that.

There are so many things I don’t know. And there are so many things I don’t know I don’t know.  But I know how happy it made me when you whispered in between REM cycles,  “You mean a lot to me.” I remember the fear that followed, the nervous, tongue-tied chuckle I gave you in return. I wanted to say it back but I couldn’t, not without crying and I didn’t want to worry you.

Science is about finding answers. Medicine is trying to put those answers into practice. I don’t have all the answers to all medical questions, but I have a lot of answers about you. I don’t even think I know one-hundredth of what happens in the human body, but I know what happens in yours and what happens in mine. I know all too well what happens when my fingertips too lightly brush against your arm. I know the rhythm of your breathing when you’re sleeping, like a lulling hum for me when I can’t sleep.

I also know that I have a very limited time with you. And that somewhere in Virginia, someone will be lucky to get to see you drink coffee in the morning and watch you leave work to go home at the end of the day. Someone will watch you write brilliant things with those hands that I know so well. I know that someone will talk to you every day and not know the colors of your eyes. I don’t either. I know thay they’re blue, or maybe green, sometimes gray… I could never really figure that out. And that’s something I’m willing to continue to figure out.

I know that waking up every morning will feel even more foreign in my new room because you won’t be there. What I don’t know is how much I’m going to miss you. I can’t even pretend to imagine how much I’m going to miss you lying next to me, doing nothing, doing everything. What I don’t know is how much I’m going to hurt – to physically hurt – to feel the burning in my skin, the aching in my bones from the simple desire of just wanting to hold you.

I can’t count the number of months or years I spent wanting to be and actually being alone. But it’s also impossible to count the days I have spent being happy with you. There is something satisfying about asking you about you, about your day, about your family, like quenching a thirst to know things about you. And these days of adventures and finding answers may be cut short, but the way you made me feel is unquantifiable. The happiness I have felt these past few months cannot be contained in days, not confined in 24 hours, in a sunrise and a sunset. It’s counted in the little moments when I felt like the room can catch fire and I wouldn’t notice. In those moments when the hours felt like minutes, and the end of the day seems merely seconds away. It’s reflected in the way I feel about you, and how I slowly and then all of a sudden wanted you in my life every day. After you leave, I know it’s going to be hard. I know it’s going to hurt. But it’s going to hurt because it matters. Because it’s important.  Because you are important.

I don’t know a lot of things, but I know these. I hope you know them, too.