I don’t know the moment I realized it was true. I think it was a gradual understanding rather than a click of a switch: I was not a girl he wanted to dance with or plan the future with. I was not a girl he wanted to make happy with surprises or flowers or sweets or wine. Instead, I was a girl he dined with to bide away the lonely hours. I was a girl he kept tucked away in the shadows, in the places where I could not harm or even touch the things that were actually important to him.
Our first time was in a bustling city, where I could hear alcohol singing and shouting just outside our window. We were friends, splitting the hotel room, trying to save money. Later, I would blame that first encounter on the tequila I had consumed that evening. He would blame it on my painfully obvious loneliness.
A year into our relationship we were out with a group of his friends and I was cold. I asked to borrow his sweatshirt. He smiled, looked uncomfortable and, as politely as he could, said no.
“I’m sorry,” he said later.
“It’s okay. I’m okay,” I said, even though I wasn’t.
Years have passed since the end. As a reader, I sometimes look back on his particular chapter in the text of my life, trying to analyze it, searching for the themes that maybe I was supposed to pick up somewhere along the line that may have been blurry through all the hurt.
I sometimes wonder if there is something I could have done differently. I look for things to blame: I was young, he was fickle, our drunken beginning, our fragile friendship. But maybe there is nothing I could have done. Maybe those years were simply not the season for our successful relationship.
It is a shame that time has never been a friend of mine. I always run out of it or am impatient with it when it is excessive. In my adult life, it has dawned on me that perhaps I should have been more careful to befriend her--so much of love is simply right timing.