Written on October 21, 1993
On October 8th, as I packed to go home for the weekend, I was prepared for things to have changed--but I did not realize just how much. I was happy to going home from college after nearly a month. I was anxious to see everyone, especially my boyfriend Patrick. While at school he had sent me care packages with romantic letters, poems, and presents. It was difficult to be apart from him, and now I would finally see him when he got out of work at midnight. I could hardly wait.
Waiting for Patrick that night once I got home to Massachusetts was a difficult task. I decided to watch a movie just to keep myself occupied. In the middle of it, the doorbell rang. My heart skipped a beat--it was him! I knew he would be happy to see me, just like I would be to see him. I walked out into the hallway, where I could see him behind the glass door. He was sitting on a tricycle that belonged to the little girl who lived upstairs. Patrick wasn't really too big for it, he was short and thin and looked like a little kid himself. That is...a little kid with a beard. His child-like ways always made me laugh, as they did now. I watched him, thinking of all the guys who stood outside that same door for me. None of them ever meant quite as much to me as Patrick did, and it was painful sometimes to think about them. I cherished Patrick, and he brought a smile to my face.
I opened the glass door, and knelt down so I could give him a hug. He held me so tight, I could hardly breathe. He was shaking, and I could feel his heart beating very fast. Mine was too. I pulled away from him as I looked into his eyes. They were red and watery, as if he had been crying, or was about to. He got off the tricycle, and held my hand like a child clinging to his mother. I lead him down the stairs and talked about how much I missed him--he did not say anything. I sat on the couch inside the apartment, and he sat next to me. I suddenly stopped talking. He was sitting with his hands folded, and his head down. He looked like a child who knew he was about to be scolded for misconduct. I asked him what was wrong and why he seemed so sad. He looked up at me with tears in his eyes and said quietly--"I can't. You're too happy." I told him that I could not be happy if he was sad, and I smoothed his tears away. He looked like he was going to tell me something awful, again looking guilty. Suddenly, a terrible all-too-familiar feeling came over me, and through me like an electric shock....please God, not again...My heart was beating wildly in my throat, and I felt the tears swell in my eyes. Patrick gently touched my hand, and said quietly, "I'm not happy." No, things were so perfect. "I just need something looser, I'm too young for something so serious. I don't want my life predetermined by the age of nineteen." I was shocked, hurt, and scared all at once. Patrick and I had been dating for a year and a half, and never had a fight that lasted longer than 5 minutes. We shared so many interests, so much happiness, so many wonderful moments. And in 30 seconds it was gone.
I was sitting there with silent tears and emotional shock--I did not expect this. I was not crying hysterically, even though I wanted to crawl into a corner and die. This had happened too many times to count. I have fallen in love and dated men who now call me with their boyfriend problems. I understood the pain love could cause and felt it a million times. But I thought Patrick was different. Our relationship had always seemed like something out of a fairy tale, and I had wanted that so desperately.
From the moment Patrick and I met--we clicked. We had everything in common--music, art, the desire for adventure, our personalities even fused. Now I was feeling my heart shatter into a million pieces. I tried to feel angry...why did he tell me now, after so long? Why did he make me think that everything was just fine? I felt betrayed, but at the same time, I wanted him to just take me in his arms and tell me everything would be okay--just like he did when I used to come home from a rough day at work. Everything was okay as long as I had love. Everything else seemed so unimportant.
Patrick and I cried a lot that night. He explained that he had not always been unhappy--it was just that our relationship was not new anymore. The excitement was gone, and there was no way to get it back. Then he told me I was too much of a dreamer. I wanted someone to spend the rest of my life with, and he did not want that.
Patrick and I always said that no matter what happened, we would always be friends--we were too much alike and cared about each other too much not to be. This did not go over well with my mother. When she came home that night, Patrick and I had told her that we had broken up. She was very upset and started crying. She was hurt too, Patrick was considered part of our family. She got angry when Patrick and I told her that we would still be friends. She said firmly--"You can never be friends with someone you love." She was right...how could I possibly make this immediate conversion? Then my mother yelled, "You can't tell me this isn't going to ruin your life!". I told her I could not think I was going to die every time I got hurt. This had brought to mind painful experiences I had tried to forget for a long time. Love always seemed to ruin my life and I cared so deeply about everyone who came into it-- trusting everyone who did not necessarily deserve it. Patrick was the only person who had ever treated me with any shred of decency. My mother was right, I would not get over this anytime soon.
It was difficult, but I somehow managed to awaken the next morning. I awoke with puffy eyes and a migraine. The phone rang--it was Patrick. He asked me how I was feeling, my voice was hoarse and I could hardly talk. He asked me if he could still see me. I accepted, and then got ready for our first day of being "just friends". I wore my hair down, the way he liked it--and wore the nicest outfit I could find. When he arrived, I somehow managed to appear alive. The first thing he noticed was my hair, and he smiled. He was trying to look alive too, his eyes were puffy and he complained of a headache. He handed me a poem entitled "One Chyld's Soul"--about an angel who saved a child from suicide and he fell in love with her. I had almost forgotten what he was like when we first met, because he had changed so much since then. He used to be severely depressed and introverted. I had read his poems before I had even met him and they had all been about suicide. He and my sister were friends, and she had kept a book of his poetry. I remember the first time she had shown me his picture, it tug at my heart and I could not stop looking at it. I had eventually taken his picture from her wallet, and kept it close to me, looking at it from time to time. I had felt for him. I wanted to save him from depression and loneliness, because I knew there was another side of him waiting for a chance to show. I wanted to help him because I knew too well how he felt. I remember the day we met, and how his hands were cut and bruised from punching walls. I took his hands and kissed all his fingers, as if that would stop the pain. I remember smoothing his hair away from his face, so that I could see his beautiful eyes which were two different colors, dark green and dark brown. He smiled because he could not believe that someone cared about him. Gradually he changed to a person who finally discovered reasons to live...I had helped a bird to fly. But I just could not change along with him. I would still be e shy and introverted. I would still be scared of taking risks. He didn't deserve that. I was only his first girlfriend. He should have others. He was too young for love, and I felt too old.
After Patrick took me out to lunch, we went shopping. We did our usual scouring of the record stores--and we held hands all day. While driving to the next record store to conquer, I started to cry, I started to remember. I silently scolded myself for it, because I had been well-behaved all day. I was thinking of all our special moments, all the places we went together, all the movies we saw, the times we danced on moonlit docks while the radio in his car blasted love songs, waiting in line for concert tickets in a snow blizzard and all he cared about was keeping me warm. It did not feel right, this was not how it was supposed to be. Patrick quickly glanced over and saw the tears in my eyes. He pulled the car over to the other side of the road. He removed all the shopping bags from between us. Then he pulled me over to him, and I rested my head on his shoulder. All the way to the record store, tears were flowing from my eyes. When we got to our destination, he parked the car and held me his arms. He told me I had taken everything like a soldier--that's exactly what I was. I had taken too much heartache from love, and for once I wanted it to be over. I wanted to have true love more than I wanted anything in the whole world...I wanted someone to love me for who I was...I wanted forever...I wanted too much.
As he held me, I whispered, "I love you" to him for the last time. I kissed him with all the love I felt I had left to give. The kiss felt new and passionate, just like the first time we kissed. We were ending our love in the same place it began--in the parking lot of Rockit Records.
Today Patrick and I are best friends, and he's like the brother I never had. To me it is truly amazing how love has a way of transforming itself sometimes, when the people you are not meant to be romantically involved with remain a healthy part of your life. Patrick never ceases to amaze me with his constant growth and passion for life, and I often admire his zest for life. He is currently journeying around the world, sending e-mail at almost every stop. He has had quite an adventure, and I know his life will just keep getting better.
Continue on the journey