Here’s what went down. Five months of glory and wonder, late night flights to gas stations, cold comforters and “The OC” episodes. You invited me to lunch, and I accepted. We hadn't seen each other in nearly a week and I was restless with excitement. Tutta Bella was where we had our first lunch and our last. I tried to hug you when I came in, but you stayed seated and we shook hands -- I should have seen the signs, as they all are there now: that confused handshake, your antsy silence. I babbled about how loud Laura laughs during funny movies, how that guy I met used to sell crack (oh by the way, he wants to meet you!), worthless small talk. You’re always so quiet so I never felt threatened by it. But I was angered, after ten minutes of strained speech, and I waited for you to say something interesting.
You definitely did.
When you first said my name, I didn't catch how gravely you really had said it. I knew something important was about to happen, but I could not guess what. It happened too quickly for me to hedge any bets. I was there in that quaint little pizzeria, there were waiters and waitresses traipsing around with huge plates of glistening salad and mushroom-adorned masterpieces, and you dropped the bomb.
"This is really hard for me to say, but I think we should break up."
How easily the words fell from your mouth. How callow my response.
"Really?" I said. "Really," like no, it was a fucking joke. Just kidding! You almost had me there! You said something about how we were both leaving soon, and how you never wanted to hurt me, or something. I have a horrible habit of blocking out everything important being said to me at all the wrong times. My eyes started to water at the incredibility of it all. Just when the thought started to land and the tears started to fall, I bowed my head so maybe my hair would hide my face which always seems to happen when it's not supposed to, but for some reason that time it wasn't enough. I stood up quickly and mumbled something about going to the restroom, and when I went to ask the host where it was, he was on the phone, waving at me to silence my whimpers.
So I spent a little time in the restroom crying and repeatedly saying, "God!" I got a few looks from the frightened people that were in there washing their hands. When I got back, you were paying the bill. I half-heartedly waved my ten dollar bill at you, but you refused, as if to say, “No thanks, baby, this one's on me.” How sweet of you. You said, "I wish there was more for me to say." And then you asked if I had my yearbook, so you could write in it, as if we'd never see one another again. We talked about how Scott was going to pick you up to take you to Claire’s house, and how you were going on your stupid road trip or whatever. You said Scott was running late and that you would probably be waiting 20 minutes for him. I took that as an, "I don't want to wait here with you while you cry." So I said I was going to leave and you stood up, finally, for your hug. Like I hadn't earned it before.
I didn't want to cry into your chest but I did. I didn't want to hug you back but I couldn't not.
And then you said "goodbye," not "see ya later," or "peace" or even just "bye." You said "goodbye," like a little bitch that was trying to make an insignificant moment seem significant and no one I know ever says bye with the good- unless they mean it.
When I left our table for the door I was, without a doubt, running. I almost made a tall blonde waiter drop his Quattro Formaggi. The walk back to the bus stop was awkward, to say the least. My face was contorted in sobs as I sprinted away. When I made it to that bench I couldn't decide whether to lie down on it or on the ground. A construction worker on his way back from lunch asked me, "You ok, sweetie?" I dragged my cigarette and nodded so he’d leave.
In retrospect it was quite ironic. I came for the perfect reunion lunch (how I had missed you) and left with one fewer boyfriend and a face full of tears. It was kind of like in “Legally Blonde” except both my ex-boyfriend and I are not as attractive as our movie counterparts. And I definitely wasn’t expecting a proposal at 17, but you know.
Tonight I found out that on his road trip, they played Spin the Bottle and he apparently kissed every girl there. It’s also quite possible that he hooked up with Jennifer C-------, whom he will be going to college with, whom he will share cigarettes with, whom he might fall in love with, whose hair he will play with, whose shoulders he will kiss, whose heart he will break.
The news knocked the wind out of me horribly. Some tears fell into the keyboard and now the I key is kind of hard to work. But as my friends remind me, breakups everywhere are horrible, I am not the only one hurt, and I’ll get over it eventually, blah blah blah.
I think the only way I can come to terms with it is within myself. Nothing anyone can tell me will help, but I know that I’ve got a long life ahead of me, and it will be filled with many other boys I will take bubble baths with, other boys with whom I will have sex in the woods, other boys who will tell me my back is beautiful. And though I will never have another first boyfriend, the memories are still there, and I can choose to remember them with bitterness or with contentment.
This is the first step in moving on, the first step in forgiving. There is nothing I could have done differently, and there is nothing I should have done differently. This experience, while draining me emotionally for a several empty days and sleepless nights, will have changed me for the better. I am healing where I’ve been hurt, and in the end I will be more resilient and less vulnerable. I am haunted now, by his words, but in the future what I’ll remember are not the bitter memories of the end, but the sweet ones of my first love.