(*photo credit to Amy*)
I remember it so vividly: waking up in his bed that morning to the smell of pancakes. We'd danced the night before: hours lost to overpriced wine, our laughter stripping the nightclub of everybody else in it. It was just us, really, and that was all I'd wanted for so long. I was still drunk when I woke up, I think. On the idea of it. Giddy eyed, heart-racing drunk. On that I was finally here, curled up in his bed as the first sun of the day broke through the gap in the curtains and his gentle humming drifted in from the room next door. On that I was his, in that moment, and it was everything.
His name was Ryan, and he was handsome, before I truly got to know him. Dark hair, blue eyes, a smile that was too big for his face, almost: one that would appear effortlessly whenever I told him about my writing projects or got lost, bright eyed and beaming, in a stray thought about my future. Our future. We'd met, earlier that year, and he'd flittered in and out of my life ever since, but somehow, a result of blistering naivety and lack of knowing my own worth, lack of self love, perhaps, that was okay. He'd waltz back in and make it seem, temporarily, like being in my company was a dazzling privilege: that he was a richer man because of it. I liked that. I think he knew I was too good for him before I did.
I don't know what it was, this thing, but five years between that morning and now have taught me that it certainly wasn't what I thought. It wasn't love.
Before I left him that day, heart and stomach full, he said 'life always brings me back to you. If we're meant to be together, it'll happen. Fate will bring us back together again.' He made it seem like an illicit experiment, and somehow I hung to his every word, giddy-eyed and fucking naive, completely oblivious to how he'd embroidered the air between us with the sweetest kind of bullshit. Because that's what it is: this idea that we're more than just specks of dust on a tiny planet in a lost corner of the universe and that this beautiful, imagined concept tends to our destiny. That's what it is.
I waited. I expected. And naturally, I never saw Ryan again.
It took me a while to realise that this was the very best thing that could have happened.
You see, I'd projected this charming fantasy of him over the sad reality of what he was. It isn't romantic to gamble entire beings on this wild idea that the universe is our puppeteer, and that we're not solely responsible for the words we speak and the actions that we take: those that define our futures. It isn't romantic to leave hope in a besotted heart when there isn't any, or to let somebody go without grace. Without actually telling them. Because that's what he did. Took what he wanted, fed me pancakes and sweet, syrupy bullshit, and just left. I was his, in that moment, his, and he couldn't have cared any less.
I implore you, if you're involved with somebody who throws that 'f' word around, to teach yourself that this person doesn't care about you in the way they say they do. How you think they do. Listen to it. To what is actually happening: that another human being is telling you that you are not worth their most basic effort, that they would rather risk never seeing you again than simply drive to your house to see you again; that they can take you or leave you; pick you up and toss you aside, as if you're not all of the wonderful, extraordinary things that you are. Like you won't enrich their life or be the very best thing that ever happened to them. That person will break you and break you and break you.
I was his, in that moment, and it was everything, before I knew what everything meant.