I’m Kind of a Fucking Mess

It’s about a girl, of course. Maybe it’s about girls in general. Everyone always says that a girl doesn’t solve everything, that a relationship will never be a Band-Aid for all of life’s ills. They stress that you have to be right first, be in a position where you’re okay with yourself, okay with being alone, before you’re ready for anything else. There’s truth to that, I suppose. But I’ve never thought it was quite that simple; I always saw it as more a chicken-and-egg thing. Because when you are alone, you start wondering, thinking about whether the you that you’re okay with is actually fundamentally flawed. And after that, the notion that you’re okay with being alone becomes an illusion: it just kind of collapses upon itself.

I haven’t made things particularly easy for myself, admittedly. I wasn’t okay with myself – I mean legitimately okay – until I was 23, 24. It was only then that I even began to conceive of the thought of dating somebody, of being with somebody. I still didn’t do much about it until I was 28, when I started actively searching, dating, whatever. Then I moved to Japan at 30. So realistically, I’ve been doing this and failing for only about four or five years. And I’m still “only” 32 – the same age my sister was when she met my now brother-in-law (their wedding taking place last month). I’m able to remind myself of all this, on good days at least.

But again, I don’t make things particularly easy for myself. In the vast majority of cases, I wasn’t interested, or she wasn’t interested, or the timing wasn’t there (more on that later). But I would say in the last couple of years I’ve had the opportunity to be in relationships if I so chose – twice, probably. Not exactly an abundance of chance, but chance nonetheless. But they weren’t real possibilities, at least from my perspective. There were communication issues in one instance, passion in the other. See, I have to be all-in, I have to fall, and hard, because when I do fall, it is all the way. Maybe it’s because I know what I’m capable of feeling that I’m incapable of accepting less.

It’s about a girl, of course. I suppose we were best described as being on the verge of a relationship. I have no delusions about it: it was two months, after all, as many dates as the fingers on my hands, and nothing beyond the most innocent of affections – mostly because I didn’t want to rush; it felt a little bit like a fucking storybook. She ended up in the “timing wasn’t there” category: she wasn’t in a great place in her life, and basically broke it off before we were at the point of no return. I think we both recognized that. But she’s the killer, if only for the moment.

In my defense, I did get over her. I got over her in November, when I wrote a short farewell email the day after. In January, when I deleted all the messages and emails – 20+ pages – we had exchanged during the short courtship (I had hoped the holiday would allow her to get herself right). I got over her in April, when I finally deleted her contact information (after I texted her a final, simple “hi” and received no response). And throughout this past year, really, as I’ve put myself out there again, going out with a few other girls, if to no avail.

But coincidence is kind of cruel. I was reminded of her the day after she broke it off, when a link appeared in my newsfeed about the making of plastic food in Japan: a favorite craft of hers. In December, when I stumbled upon an article about my research topic that was written by her uncle, a thinktanker. In April, when my iPhone showed a long-deleted photo album after a sync gone weirdly awry. In June, when a museum exhibit ended that we meant to visit but never did, and in September, when an annual event returned – the site of our imperfect yet totally perfect first date.

The killer was in June, when I dreamt about her out of the blue, about being with her and being truly happy with her. I woke up to reality, to knowing the dream would never come to fruition, and it sent me straight back to the moment that she broke off something that never was. And the killer was yesterday, 11 months later. She showed up on the dating site we first met, for the first time since November. A part of me was genuinely happy for her, actually: it meant she was ready to date again, and in a better place in her life. But then, without clicking on her profile, I glanced at her updated city.

I knew she was moving to Boston this August for a masters program: it was one of the things we connected over, my coming from there, her going to there; and one of the things I admired her for, her ambition. But her updated city was Brighton. It’s the very suburb in Boston I lived in two years ago, and one I never mentioned to her. Like I said, coincidence is cruel. In movies about alternate realities, about lives that could have and should have been, everyone ends up with whom they’re supposed to. Except this is life. I’ve done everything I can to move on. And yet, here we are. Fucking Brighton, Massachusetts.

But maybe it has nothing to do with the girl – with what I think could have been, or even the fact that it’s the realest thing I’ve ever known, sad as that is. Maybe it’s about girls in general. Because I’m terrified that I won’t find someone better, won’t have an opportunity to experience something that is actually real and tangible. I don’t know if Japan is an obstacle or just an excuse, if I would just go through the same shit anywhere else because it’s about me rather than the context. Maybe I’m just not good enough to make her fall as hard as I seem to, regardless of whether the timing is right or not.

Either way, all I know is that right now, I’m kind of a fucking mess.

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