The Archives: May 2009 - March 2011



Guest Blogger: Ashley from Pricks Like Thorn

While sitting in my living room, trying to figure out what to write for Jessy (who was so lovely to let guest bloggers onto her page!), an old rerun ofWill & Grace was playing on my TV. Will was yelling at Grace, trying to explain to her how he can’t deal with the residual problems left by his ex-boyfriend Michael.
It was like a sign.

Let me tell you about a boy named Michael. Much like the movie (500) Days of Summer, this is not a love story. It’s a story about love. A story about an almost-love, a should-be-love, and a love-not-strong. It’s a story about a love that wasn’t meant to be.

I don’t really consider it a failed love, or even a sad love. It’s a love meant to be learned from, a love that exists as a shadow in sunlight: everywhere and nowhere all at once.

It wasn’t immediate sparks, it wasn’t “love at first sight”, it was nothing like the movies. Michael and I were in the same college freshman Humanitiesclass; I remember glancing at him the first day because he mentioned something about being Filipino (as am I), but I have no recollection of him for the following month.

Then on February 15, 2006, we were put into the same group to discuss Walt Whitman’s poem “Leaves of Grass”. By some stroke of fate, he moved his desk next to mine; upon seeing me drawing an entire field in my notebook, he started talking to me.

And so began a month-long spiral of emotions. He was the first to initiate something, but I was a quick second to respond. The next day, he sat next to me in class. We found we were very different people, but we had a lot in common. He appealed to me in ways no one else had, and we were able to discuss a lot of things with each other. Multiple lunches followed, a few study sessions, an intense and helpful albeit not exactly necessary essay crunch evening. Somehow, someone who I had never known existed for the first 19 years of my life became everything to me: Michael had worked his lovely little life into the fabric of mine, and I could no longer tell which threads were his—all I knew was I wanted this blend.

As quickly as he came into my life, he was forced out of it: around mid-March, he told me he has been deployed early to Iraq and would be leaving at the end of Finals week (which falls in the third week of March) to his pre-deployment training. He would be gone for 15 months at the shortest.

To be clear, nothing had really happened between us in the romantic sense. I had feelings for him, and I was positive he had them for me. There was something between us, and no one who saw us together ever denied it. I do not believe in love at first sight, nor do I believe in soulmates; but Michael is the only person in my life who had ever made me question this belief. I choose to call it “instant chemistry,” but I’ll never really know. I know that in the short 5 weeks we knew each other, he became a lot of things to me. And most importantly, in a time where I was quickly losing myself, he was something Real.

A few days before he left, in one of our many online conversations, I discovered he had a girlfriend. In our entire friendship, he had never, ever mentioned her to me. And even after my discovery of her, he still never talked about her to me. I was crushed at the time, but he meant enough to me where I was willing to continue on with only a friendship. Ignoring what this means about him, in our entire story, he never once discussed his girlfriend with me. He never even mentioned her to me; he would very quickly change the subject and alter any route of conversation if it was leading towards her. I knew she was still in the picture, but he never allowed her into his and my picture.

We kept up our friendship through his deployment, and upon his return he immediately sought me out. It was September 2008. At the time I was the Editor of a campus publication, and he found me during the Campus Club Fair, manning my magazine’s booth. I can’t even describe what it feels like to see the man who you thought would own your heart be walking towards you, a big smile on his face and his arms open wide, back from a two year deployment at war. I’m positive my heart stopped, while I am also positive it was never beating faster.

Our friendship tried to continue when he came back. Nothing had changed in the sense that we were still comfortable, and whatever was between us remained — what changed was his time commitment. As our friendship progressed, it became harder for us to find the time to see one another, and it became increasingly difficult for him to avoid mentioning his girlfriend to me. I quickly came to feel as the “other woman,” even though he and I never had a true relationship. It still felt as though he was having an emotional affair with me. We had a few classes together, but eventually we both let our lives fade from each other. My feelings for him had altered, and however slightly so, it mattered: I didn’t trust him. How could I, if he couldn’t tell me he had a girlfriend? Maybe he never knew of my feelings, but the fact he tried to hide her from me told me so much more than I could look past.

Michael and I cannot be friends. Our connection, our chemistry is just too much. He and I can only be together, or be nothing. It’s a very strange relationship, to know that what you have is unlike anything else but still choose to push it aside. That what you have is so much more than friendship, but not enough to let it take priority. It’s surreal, since so many people wish and hope their entire lives to find a connection. The concept in itself is weird: how is it possible there is a person who connects so deeply to you, but is not the person you are meant to be with?

Michael married that same girlfriend eight months ago, and his wedding was beautiful. It was both modern and traditional, with elements of their respective heritages infused. Even in pictures, you can see how much they love each other.

I have no resentment for him. I was confused and hurt when I found out about his girlfriend, and I was entirely suspicious and a little outraged when he continued to hide her from me. I was never asking for more than our friendship, and I was a little insulted that he wouldn’t let his relationship (which, as it turns out, was quite serious) factor into the building of Us. I don’t like what it insinuated about our friendship. But, I still don’t hold it against him. If I was battling so hard about us because it felt like it could never be JUST a friendship, I don’t want to think what his battle was when he had a real relationship to consider as well. And besides, bitterness and grudges are never worth it in the end.

I learned a lot from Michael, both good and bad. He was good for me, because he was a focus during a tough time in my life. I don’t fail to see that he was a reason for me to stay afloat when I was drowning. And it took awhile, but I know that he is no longer a road block to my heart. He has molded, become a part of me—still part of the blend of fabric, but his color isn’t so bright. I find that small memories with Michael still peek into my head and heart every once in awhile, but I’ve learned to take it as a gentle reminder of what I will eventually be able to find. One day, I know another Michael will come along; only this time, a single one. One that can offer me his heart, in equal capacity to what I can offer him.

1 comment:

Andrew Gerald Hales said...

ya, ya gotta just ask all those basics in the beginning. I start with "are you single?" whenever I approach a girl or anything. It's just saves time.