What I dreaded the most has now happened more times than I care to count. Caught up in my life, in the myriad distractions I adopted to forget you, I have crossed paths with you in the halls of our university. We are always going in opposite directions and we always meet under the clock tower. I purposely choose to go around the school seal, with chains encircling it to prevent anyone walking over the gold emblem, oppoiste from the side you choose. I do not want to meet your eyes. I refuse to acknowledge you.
The first time this happened you raised your hand as if to greet me and began to smile. It was morning and my path to the university made me face east, so I was wearing my dark sunglasses to block out the burning Caribbean sun. I saw you from a hundred feet away and quickly calculated the possibility of our crossing paths, hoping we would and that you would stop and apologize and ask for us to get back together. An impossible dream, but one I still held onto that day. You made to wave…my face froze and dropped all expression. I made no move to smile, no move to wave and you quickly dropped your hand and hurried away. I so desperately wanted to greet you, to hear your voice, to kiss you, that I knew that if I gave you half a chance and you approached then the carefully constructed veneer of happiness would be crushed. Just the sight of you was a knife to my heart, twisting and twisting and cutting off my breath. As soon as you were out of sight, I dodged into the nearest bathroom and locked myself into a stall. I cried, the kind of gut-wrenching out of breath sobs most people think only happen in movies, until youe heart is broken and the life you constructed for yourself falls apart. Then those sobs become a regular part of the day; one good cry before breakfast and another before bed. I called my best friend, we talked and then I went to work. What else could I do? You had nearly destroyed my life once…
The second time I ran into you I didn’t see you until we were right on top of each other. Barely a few feet away. This close I couldn’t help but noticed you wore the clothes we had picked out together, the glasses I chose for you, and carried the bag I had gifted you. You, like me, were covered in clued of our four years together. I wondered if you ever noticed, if you ever thought about all the things I did for you but you never appreciated. Your shirt was wrinkled, so no one was ironing for you like I used to. The thought was petty, but it made me feel good. I buried the sight of you in the back of my head; you did not try to greet me this time. I kept it together until that night, when I fell apart in bed. What was so wrong with me that you couldn’t stay?
The third time I saw you, you were having coffee with another girl. The pettiness in me reared it’s head; she was known was the “slut of labor relations”. A simple scan of her social media made it clear that she lacked class and intelligence. What did you see in her? I know you liked her. Once you went out of your way to give her your jacket on a rainy day. Back when we were together you would like every slutty picture she posted. You spent hours texting her even when I was right next to you. You would sneak out to drink with her. Of course I tore her apart over text message with my best friends. Blair Waldorf comes to mind “Once men have tasted caviar, it baffles me how they settle for catfish.” And she was catfish compared to me. My resume was outstanding; top of my class, worked two office jobs one of them running a company we started together. I was accepted into multiple graduate programs when this girl had failed twice, which was why she still hadn’t completed her BA. A catfish. For once, I allowed myself to feel angry. The patient and understanding Jen who believed you when you said that sexting meant nothing was dead.
The fourth and fifth times I saw you was routine. I barely felt anything. It had now been six months since you left, as if I were nothing, as if four years dedicated to your happiness were worthless. You picked up your things and went to a study group with a bunch of girls you had been flirting with behind my back. I was left broken and alone. But I felt nothing of that this time. For once, I felt that you were pathetic. I remembered that I had given up a prestigious PhD program for you, that I had fallen behind on my homework countless times because I ran errands for you, that I neevr saw my friends or family because we always had to do what you wanted to do. I remember how you never had a kind word, how you never cleaned but complained when the kitchen was dirty. I remember you keeping tabs on all my soending, but never paying the bills at the apartment we shared. I remember always being smarter and you hating it.
I have seen you a few times since then and each time I feel less and less. The last time I saw you it was like you were nothing. Or perhaps you were something. You were now a distant memories of lies piled on top of lies. Of insults and strategic comments meant to put me down. I went on a cruise with my family. It had been so long since I had been with them for more than an hour. Of course, I remembered why (totally annoying and frustrating people) but I also remembered who I was before you. So many dreams given up because you couldn’t keep up. Whenever we competed, which was inevitable since we studied the same things and shared the same dreams, I came out on top. I realized you detested this, but at the time all I saw was your hurt and disappointment. I could never bring myself to tell you that I won that prestigious summer internship at Notre Dame nor that my poems were published. My accomplishments were never celebrated, but our lives revolved around yours.
Some days I feel myself again; ambitious and determined. Other days I remember your arms around me and your smell. No, it wasn’t all bad, but it was all about you. Why did I have to slow down? Why could we not chase my dreams first and then yours? Why did we always have to compete? Why did you constantly tell me to be quiet and not share my opinions? I’ll never know but I do see what all those little things added up to; an inability to be around someone who was in any way better than you. You always chose to be friends with people who agreed with you and I have never been an agreeable person. I challenge and contest. Now you’re gone. You have another girl, probably one meant only to be seen and never heard. I have me, though. And I have always been more then capable of accomplishing my dreams without you. I almost forgot that, caught up in a world of you. But you left me, broke me into pieces so small that I’m still not all together, yet I am stronger and I know I can get through anything. Nothing in this world could hurt as much as your utter betrayal, so thank you. “So much the worse for me, that I am strong.”