“Is it the painter in you that loves sunsets?” She was intrigued by the thoughtfulness in the first message he sent her. She smiled and responded and they ended up texting for a few hours. The conversations were interesting and she started looking forward to them. After chatting for about a week, they decided to meet. It was late spring and the weather was finally beginning to warm up, so they met in the plaza for their first date.
She was early for their first date and worked on her laptop, while watching other people soak up the sun. They briefly hugged when he came and started talking about the usual introductory stuff about each other. As conversation flowed effortlessly, they talked about science and careers, dating and relationships, life and family and growing up with siblings, books and writing, and minutes turned into hours.
Towards the end of the evening, she knew that she had to bring it up. “I need to be upfront that I am looking for a job and will be moving from here soon. So if you are looking for a serious relationship, I don’t want to waste your time.”
“I appreciate your being honest about this. I am not looking for anything and just like to go with the flow. I am enjoying your company and would love to see you again. I would say tomorrow, but I know you have plans. Let’s meet again, as soon as possible.”
She was meeting friends for dinner that night and they reluctantly parted ways making plans to meet within the next couple of days.
One Month Later
She had interviewed for a couple of positions since they had met and was surprised at how supportive he had been and how close they had grown in their brief time together. They had been on several dates, had interesting conversations, enjoyed each other’s company, and were very comfortable around each other. A couple of days earlier, she had received her first job offer and was excited about it and they went out to celebrate. As they were walking to the car after a movie and dinner, she mentioned that it had been a month since they had met. She wasn’t sure if she should wish him a happy anniversary, she wasn’t sure what this meant to him. “I must really like you, I don’t think that I’ve dated someone this long without…”, he paused and smiled. “Well, I am special, you know,” she winked and smiled back at him. She thought about the last month and how surprised he had been when she had told him that she had not had sex with anyone yet, and yet how comfortable she felt talking to him about sex. They had been intimate several times yet she never felt pressured or rushed. After reading about consent and sex positivity in the last few years, she was happy to have met someone who was understanding and respectful. They made love for the first time that night. He was thoughtful, gentle, and caring. He was everything that she had hoped for, and more.
Two Months Later
She was thinking about the date all week but didn’t bring it up because she didn’t want to appear needy or too attached. She thought about the last two months, about their trip to the caverns over the long weekend and the fabulous time they had. She remembered telling him that she loved him, how she blurted it out right before they arrived home because she had been thinking about it all weekend. She thought about the day she slept over at his place for the first time, how they solved a maths problem while he made dinner, how he packed lunch and made smoothies for breakfast. She loved that they challenged most gender stereotypes in their relationship. He always asked her for directions because she knew the city more than he did. He was emotionally and physically expressive and they had great chemistry and she found herself surprised at how attracted she was to him and how much she enjoyed sex. “By the way, I just realized that it has been two months since we met,” she casually mentioned when they facetimed that evening. “You realized it now, I had been thinking about it earlier today,” he responded. She was secretly happy that he remembered. She remembered all week and was trying to be nonchalant, she confessed a few minutes later.
Three Months Later
She had accepted a job offer and couldn’t stop thinking about how it was time for her to leave. She had already started organizing and packing and was wondering what would happen to their relationship. They had talked a few weeks earlier and he had said that he wasn’t ready for a long-term relationship at this point. She had been upset about it but eventually made her peace with it. She had not been this happy in a long time and what was the point in ruining the present for what the future may or may not hold. She thought of all the things that made her happy since she had met him. The first time he had said he missed her was when they made love on the couch after he came back from a short weekend trip. She remembered their short weekend trip to the state park, the picnic lunch he had made for them, the walks by the river, sharing poetry, clicking pictures, the sunsets, and how someone walking on the street saw them and said they looked happy. She loved how they talked about science and work, gender inequality and other societal issues, hopes and dreams for their lives, and how much he valued her thoughts and opinions, her little wishes, how he pulled her leg and teased her. She was grateful that they could be totally honest with each other and were able to talk about anything under the sun, including past relationships and their fears in life. She felt lucky to have met him and couldn’t believe how quickly time was going by by and how happy they were. As they made love at midnight, she told him it had been three months since they had met. “Oh I didn’t realize it’s the 15th today. Are you sure we didn’t meet on the 16th?” he teased. “Happy three months,” he kissed her. She smiled and wished him the same. As he made time to drop her at work the next morning even when he was running late, she silently hoped that this would work out.
Four Months Later
It had been a little over two weeks since she had left and he had said he didn’t want to be in a long distance relationship a few days before she left. Instead of goodbyes, the farewell was filled with au revoirs and promises to meet again. She had been traveling for two weeks and was enjoying the long distance train journeys and living the adventure that she had been dreaming about for years. They still talked regularly and she missed him and had not let go of the hope that something might work out. When they talked on the 15th, she wished him a happy four months and he wished her back. When she brought up her visiting him over the following weekend, she realized that he didn’t have time to see her and didn’t want her to make the trip. Although she knew his reasons were genuine and she understood his situation, she was frustrated. She knew that she was hoping against hope for something to work out and was fighting the reality that it wasn’t going to happen. She was scared that she might not see him again. She reminded herself that even if this was the end, this was a mature and respectful relationship that made her happy, and it set a good standard for what she would expect from future relationships. Except that she didn’t want any other relationship, she wanted to be with him.
Five Months Later
A month later, they were having a similar conversation. She wanted to go and see him over the weekend and they fought about it on the 14th. This was the biggest fight they had ever had, it was probably their first fight. Maybe the only fight they would ever have. He didn’t think it was a good time to meet because things would get complicated, he didn’t want to deal with emotions and didn’t want himself to be the focal point of her travel plans. She tried to convince him that she didn’t have an agenda and wasn’t trying to salvage a relationship. She wanted one last weekend with him – a weekend of happiness and laughter and intimacy. They were both right and they were both wrong. On the next day, she wondered if he remembered, if he would call or text her. She didn’t like prolonged fights, so she texted him mentioning that she was not coming. An offering of peace. He didn’t respond. She wondered if he was busy or choosing not to respond. Although they talked the following day and things returned to normal, she wondered if he remembered. As she reminisced their three and a half or four months together, she knew that there was no fifth month anniversary. There had been a brief glimmer of hope in the past month. She had interviewed for a position to move back to the same city where he was, it was an excellent opportunity for her career and would have given their relationship a fresh breath of life. However, despite her fervent prayers and hopes and dreams, she wasn’t hired for the position. Meanwhile, they weren’t talking as regularly anymore and she was coming to the realization that it was over. They could probably be friends. She had been trying to process it over a few weeks and had already shed many tears when she missed him. Although she was trying to be happy that it happened, she couldn’t help being sad that it was over. When she saw the poem he had shared on facebook a few days earlier, she wondered if he didn’t love her even a tiny little bit. Was the poem a sign? It was interesting how the same poem could be a reflection of both their lives despite their contrasting approaches to love and life.
different and the same
with each it is different and the same
with each the absence of love is different
with each the absence of love is the same
– Samuel Beckett