Looking back it seems like I'd always known her. She lived round the corner from me and our parents vaguely knew each other through a mutual friend they both occasionally hung out with. We ended up going to the same school and shared the same classes and the same jokes and somehow grew up together. Sure, I knew there were other girls who seemed more attractive to the other boys and there were definitely other females with more money and more prospects but somehow she always seemed to be right for me and I didn't care about much apart from that. Nothing ever happened between us though until a few years ago when we first started seeing each other. It was one of those summers that you only actually understand when you're a bit older and have that bit more perspective. Only then can you see that, while we both reveled in the moment, neither of us properly believed that it would end with something truly special. And, although we both shared a brief glimpse into the possibilities back one September Sunday we never truly thought that there was a “we” and that “we” could make it.
But that was three years ago. We kept in touch since and, as we ended up working for the same dull multinational, saw each other around all the time. While there was always passion in the back of our minds it somehow lay unexploited and dormant throughout the dismal next few months. Perhaps we just never “managed” things properly and certainly it wasn't a surprise that while she was living it up in the local bars I was alone with only my sudoku puzzles and the occasional bowl of goulash for company. Then, this year, when the first hints of summer were approaching on the breeze she returned from a long holiday. The desire began flowing through me again and neither of us could hold ourselves back from getting involved.
That doesn't mean things started off smoothly between us because they didn't. We laughed continually the first time we met up again and thought the whole date thing was easy until at the end of the night over a plate of meatballs in the local Italian I blew it with a stupid remark and she walked off straightaway. I felt devastated and although I saw her at work the next few days things didn't show much hope of improvement. We hadn't even made it out of the first week of our relationship and it looked like we'd failed. Friends told me it wouldn't work out and even though I desperately clung to the advice of a colleague who seemed deluded in his assertions that it would be fine in a short while I didn't truly believe him. Ultimately he was right though.
The next few months we spent a lot of time away on work together. There was that night in Colorado which never seemed to end when we both started to think that something remarkable could happen. There was the time we swept through Houston together and the trip to Los Angeles where the burning building near where we stayed seemed the perfect metaphor for our mutual heat. Best of all though were the nights at home where we both settled into a routine and it seemed like when we were with each other we couldn't possibly lose. We never stood still but kept on movin' on up, kept on runnin' as if we couldn't waste a second we had with each other. We moved from secretly thinking about the glorious possibilities to openly talking about them.
As I write this I can begin to realise that the negative portents were always there. We started getting tired a few weeks ago and perhaps the laughter and jokes were our way of avoiding the questions that always lurked in the dark recesses. Perhaps we were never really managing things properly all along and perhaps the little changes we made were desperate subconscious attempts to paper over the cracks. We didn't know that yet though. We set a date and planned for late October as if that was all that mattered and, to my last day, I'll always know that we both fervently believed we'd get there.
It all ended this week. We argued constantly and while there were a couple of nights where there seemed to be promise we never quite got things sorted. Too often the day would start out badly and, however hard we tried, we could never make the necessary moves to make sure things were on the right track. Where we should have been in harmony we could never quite get the pitch right. Even though it wasn't true I felt she didn't care and had given up. Although I knew she was only laughing and joking because she wanted to stay positive and felt if we “stayed loose” we could win through sometimes I got frustrated and angry and wanted her to show the same anguish I was feeling. Its certainly not candy hearts and shy glances on Valentine's Day, but that's the reality of love for you.
She's left town now and says a few months break will do both of us good and she might well be right. I'm not going to lie and say that I understand what went wrong and that I feel absolutely fine at the moment because I don't. It's wrong to say it was fate that things didn't work out because that's not true. You don't have to believe in happily-ever-after or the American Dream to see that ultimately its the collection of our own small, meagre, individual choices that coalesce to determine our success. However much you might wish it didn't exist, there's a certain bitterness that comes when things like this happen – you feel its all a waste of time, that you've been a fool for believing and that you wish it had all never happened. I'm not an idiot though and I've been through enough in my short life to know that things will eventually look different in time. In a while I'll be looking back with a faint smile on my face and a while after that I'll feel completely comfortable talking about how fucking brilliant we were together.
She phoned unexpectedly earlier today and left a short message on my answerphone saying that she'll be back in town next April. I know myself well enough by now to understand that I've a huge capacity for self-delusion but I couldn't help but feel there was something in her voice that suggested there was some type of tentative hope for us. The frustration at how things recently ended still burns my insides like acid and I absolutely know there's no guarantee of things working out between us when she returns. Despite that, fool as I am, I can't help but start counting off the days until I see her again...