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.

I just miss you.

Remember when I said you were my escape? How you take away the pain and stress and and burden of my work, of my family, of life? When I’m with you, life doesn’t exist beyond the comfort of your arms around me, beyond the ferocity of your hazel eyes. There is no restlessness. There is no hurt.

So what happens when I don’t get that break from reality? When for weeks all that I get to feel is mental stress, physical exhaustion, and the heartbreaking cases of very, very sick kids fighting for their lives? I get jaded. I get scared. I start to lose hope. I go to a dark place that I am sometimes not proud to admit even exists.

But you are the light in that darkness. Sometimes a few words from you is enough to keep me going, like a candle that lights up a house in a middle of a storm. And being with you feels like that bizarre 70 degree weather in November – warm and bright. You are a breath of fresh air, just what I need when my entire world is a raging sea and I’m struggling to tread water.

Not seeing you is ordinary. It’s inevitable. And the hours turn to days, and the days turn to weeks, and my need for you grows stronger. You have turned from someone that helps me get through a day into something that I cannot live without. You were caffeine, something I thought I needed to get through the day; something that helps me survive. But now you’re my drug, and I have to take a hit to get that high. Nothing is ever enough. And when it’s been too long, I shake, I tremble. I can’t think, I can’t function. It didn’t use to be like this. And this withdrawal – this intense need of a dose of you –  is scary, especially when I feel like I need it more than you do. Like you craving a specific flavor of ice cream. And me, I’m the junkie who sells her kidney to be able to afford my next hit.

I’m sorry if I’m being difficult or confusing. I was never good at explaining myself. So when you kept asking me what was wrong, I wanted to say all of this. I really, really did. But all I could think of was, “Nothing. I just miss you,” and I couldn’t even spit that out. Because all this comes from that, me missing you – when my bones ache to feel you again, and my hands search for that softness I can only find when your hair is between my fingers. All this comes from me craving your warmth, your fingers tracing lines on my skin. It comes from the look on your eyes when you look at me when you say things like, “You’re special to me.”  It comes from the sound of your breathing when you sleep, the one I vaguely remember. And how you slowly open your eyes and your lips mumble a slurred greeting.

I don’t need you to do anything, and I’m sorry if I scared you or had you worried, or if you felt guilty for some reason. Tears just come when they want to come, I guess. It’s nothing. I just miss you.

This is my life. With you.

I now count my days according to when I will see you next. I go through hours looking forward to when I can talk to you again. And seconds, seconds feel longer when I’m waiting for you to wake up in the morning, wondering what your dreaming of behind your hazel eyes.

I know I just saw you, but it’s hard not to miss you when you’ve left marks in my room, when my bed reminds me of what we did, of how my sheets got tangled.

Making love never just meant you and me in a bed together. You made love to me while holding my hands, while looking into my eyes. And  breathed it in. I breathed it all in.

I love you.

The thing about pain, is that it demands to be felt.

12 hours ago, I didn’t think you could ever hurt me, not on purpose at least. Well, to be fair, I guess this isn’t on purpose.

You were hesitant to pick things back up as we usually do before falling asleep, and I asked why. You said you didn’t feel right doing things with me when you had… ‘unanswered questions’. You were afraid that what we’re doing may incline certain expectations that you will not be able to meet. You were worried that because we view physical stuff to mean different things, it would mislead me. So I asked what all this meant for you. And too quickly you responded, “Nothing.”

I don’t recall the last time I was slapped in the face, but I vaguely remembering it feeling this way. 

A pain that’s sudden, forceful, lingering. The kind that knocks the breath out of you. I slowly retracted my hand from across your chest. I was silent. Or at least I think I was silent. I can’t remember what you said or what I said next. All I could think of was the tingling in my fingers, the sudden weight in the pit of my stomach. You swiftly but sincerely apologized for ruining the moment. (Although at that moment I was afraid it was more than the moment that was ruined.) And after a few minutes, you fell asleep.

I tossed and turned beside you, not only because I was restless, but also because I did not want a part of me touching you. Not even an inch. I had an unsettling feeling of urgency. All I wanted to do was to get out of there, to be so far away from you. I had no idea what time it was, but it was obviously dark. I left your house after gathering my things. I think you were awake. I was wondering if I woke you up with my shuffling in the dark. But worse, I didn’t even care if you were watching me pack up my stuff.

After a near magical weekend of talking to each other, being lost in each other, it had to end with this. 

I don’t think I have ever been that honest with anyone I’ve ever dated. It took me a while to be as good as you when it comes to communicating. Or I guess as willing as you are to communicate. I meant every word I said last night. They were hard to spit out, and it was a constant struggle every time I said something, but I knew you appreciated it. I knew that you had a right to know what I was thinking, how I was feeling. So I shared them, all of them. And maybe that’s what pushed you away? Or made you realize how much I wanted to make this work? Because for the first time ever, or at least in a really long time, we were not on the same page.

I don’t just do these things with anyone. I do them with you, for you, to you, because I care about you and because you matter to me. It didn’t seem like that was reciprocated. “Nothing,” you said. This all meant nothing to you. It definitely meant something more than ‘nothing’ to me. And you saying it meant nothing made me feel cheap and used. And I didn’t want to touch you or even look at you. 

How did all this change in less than 12 hours? 

The world, indeed, is not a wish-granting factory.

Someone once told me that the best way to be with you is to be honest with you. So here it goes.

In a nutshell, I don’t want you to go. Of course I don’t want you to go.

You first asked what we are now, since we haven’t defined our relationship since February. I dodged the question because I still didn’t know. Or at least in that moment I didn’t know. I have been holding myself back from progressing, from moving this forward, because I knew you were going to leave, one way or another. And now you’re asking us to reevaluate our situation to see if this is worth our time and effort. I feel like we went on a full circle here. I didn’t want anything real because I knew this was going to end sooner rather than later. Now that it’s ending I wish this was something real. I’m pretty sure if you look up the word ‘infuriating’ in the dictionary, it’s going to show you this situation. Also look up: irony.

Then you asked me if we could keep this going when you leave. It broke my heart to say “I don’t know…” which we both know meant “No.” And at that moment, I hated myself. I hated that I was contributing to your pain. After a few more minutes, you asked again, “When I take this job, are we really over?” You asked that through your tears. You sobbing is one of the most heartbreaking things I have ever seen in my life. I buried myself in your pillow, looking away from you. I couldn’t stand to see your face as your heart continued to break. “Look at me,” you pleaded. “Let me see your face” I hesitantly lifted my face off the pillow without ever meeting your eyes. I didn’t feel like I deserved to look at you.

A few minutes later, I explained myself through whisper. “You understand, right? You understand why I’m hesitant about us?” I reminded you of PCN, of how much it sucked to not see you for 3 weeks. That was 2 months ago, when we were still kind of sort of dating (as opposed to now? I’m not really sure what our updated status is). If I couldn’t handle not seeing you for 3 weeks when I didn’t feel this strongly for you, what’s the next 5 months going to be like for me? Hell? I didn’t say that, though. All I said was, “Those 3 weeks sucked. I don’t think I can do that for 5 months.” Which was the truth; just not that whole truth, I guess. We both acknowledged the fact that our relationship’s strength lies in us being physically together, in holding hands, in laying in bed doing nothing, in falling asleep next to each other. Our best moments involve your arms around me, my fingers tangled in your hair, being so close to you I could feel my heartbeat against your chest and bounce back to me. 5 months of minimal physical time together will be detrimental to us – we knew that.

You started thanking me. “Thank you for everything. For being god to me. I learned so much from you.” You thanked me for things I don’t even remember doing, for things that I didn’t know meant a lot to you. “Thank you for driving to Wal-mart at 5 in the morning when I felt like I was dying… You did everything you could to make me feel better. No one has taken care of me like you have…. I’m never going to find that.” And I tried to be positive. “Yes. Yes you will. You’re going to find someone who’s going to take care of you and who will want to do the same things you want to do.” I don’t know why, but I felt like I was pushing you away. I continued, “I think we’re just trying to save the world in very different ways.”

My training has taught me to act composed and think logical in moments of crisis. So when we were having this conversation, I was being reasonable and almost clinical in my thinking.  New relationship + 4 hour distance = no good. It wasn’t until 24 hours later when I was home in Baltimore when the tears came. A friend texted me, “Is it sinking in now?” Yes, yes it was. It was sinking in, in a fetal position, crying so hard it was hard to breathe, 8/10 pain kind of way. Yes, it was sinking in that I’m going to wake up in the morning, knowing I will not see you in the near future. It was sinking in that I won’t be able to touch you for a long time once you leave. Yes, it was sinking in that we are ending this even before we actually start. And I didn’t know what to do. I knew that I didn’t want you to leave, but of course it wasn’t my place to ask you to stay. But at the very least, I wanted to keep this going. I wanted us to keep fighting for this. And then my friend texted, “I think deep down you already fell for him. You just don’t want to admit that to yourself yet.” And in that moment, I knew. I knew that I really liked you, that I cared about you more than anyone I’ve ever been with. I’m always the last one to figure out things like this, aren’t I?

You texted me goodnight, and as a Hail Mary pass, I replied, “Did you mean it? When you said you wanted to try to make this work?” I was ready to tell you that I want this to work. That I’m willing to try. I started to type up a message saying that everything in my experience and common sense, really, is telling me that we shouldn’t. But I want to, because I can’t imagine not having this – not having you, in one form or another – anymore. But it was your turn to break me. “Who knows, maybe you’ll meet a new dashing resident and I’ll meet a political event organizer who’s a total babe.” Like daggers. We agreed to meet and spend more time together to talk about this. But it seemed like you already had an answer.

I know it’s only 4 hours, that it won’t be impossible to make it work, but do we really have it in us to fight for this? Do we have a strong enough foundation to make it through this? What would be the smarter thing to do – to risk the budding relationship and power through, or try to be friends and wait 5 months from now and start over?

More importantly, what do you want to do?

I Don’t Know What This Is

It’s in the way you talk to me, all the time, texting and calling when you say you will. It’s in the way you drive almost an hour to come see me, just to sleep next to me. Not with me. Just innocently lie next to me for a few hours. It’s in the way you try so hard to reciprocate the concern I genuinely show, from catching me literally as I fall, to making sure I eat, to protecting me from sleaze bags in bars. It’s in the way you sing to me one of the most romantic songs I have listened to when I was growing up, in another language that you are very diligently trying to learn. It’s in the way you glance up at me in disbelief when you open your birthday present and realized that it’s not just what you wanted, but exactly what you needed. It’s in the way you tell me that you had a near magical day, and that I was a big part of that.

You do things and say things I have always dreamed someone would. I catch us doing things that are sickeningly romantic, for which me from 6 months ago would have mocked us. I catch us saying flirty and sweet things to each other, making me act like a school girl every time you sing things like, “My dreams fly me, to a place near Baltimore.” But I also catch myself smiling a lot more, laughing a lot more. I look at myself and I am happy.

I don’t know what this is. It’s been 3 months of actual dating, 6 months of talking, and I still don’t know what this is. I still don’t know what we are and what I want us to be. I don’t know what I want you to be. I have never been this uncertain about someone for this long, and that confuses me. Is this normal? Is this how it’s supposed to be? To cautiously walk into something, watching every step, taking very calculated risks, over-thinking every act? But at the same time just trusting that what happens happens, that there is no use forcing things and defining and redifining us. It’s a mixture of being unsure, but trusting that this feels right, at least for now.

That’s what we are. A balance of things, and always in sync. We’re always on the same page, and it surprises me every time.

I don’t know what to make of us, but I do know that when this ends, and it will end, a big part of me will be at  a loss.