In my freshman year of college, my two best friends and I all got matching necklaces that said “Fuck Love” on them. You can only imagine my mother’s surprise when I started wearing it all the time, declaring that “love” was something I would never come across, unless it was for my mother and father. We bought our necklaces around wintertime, when we were supposed to be buying gifts for our families. We thought they were hilarious at first, but they became part of our “looks” because they made us seem more mysterious...or something. I’m not exactly sure why we wore them everyday, except that it was some inside joke, and that we did not want any men to take us away from each other. There is something so freeing about being young and alone in the city, I’m still trying to figure out why that is.
I wore this necklace on eleven dates. I know the number is somewhere around eleven because I wrote a poem called “Ode to Those I’ve Kissed” where I briefly describe all the boys I kissed from 7th grade until now. It’s still being written. The necklace is described nowhere in the poem, but the memories of how each fling went remain the most important aspect of it. For instance, I talk about my first kiss Drew, and how I felt stupid for “dating” him because I was in 7th grade and he was in 6 th , and how he “broke up” with me by holding hands with another girl. I talk about every other guy that I’ve kissed and how they each made me the kisser that I am today, as most kisses do. This makes me wish that every moment could be as special as the moments that happen right before you are about to kiss someone. When thinking about the subject of kissing, I am reminded of Aaron, whom I briefly dated when I first moved to New York, and how he told me that a person always kisses someone new the way they kissed their previous partner. I started noticing how that fact might be true when I kissed James after him. Is it possible that once we have our first kiss, we then kiss the next person exactly how we kissed the previous? Like some sort of kissing circle that doesn’t end until we finally decide that there is one person we want to kiss for the rest of our lives? I couldn’t tell you if this is actually true, but I noticed this once I started kissing Brandon.
I met Brandon in the summer of 2014, a little while after I stopped being friends with one of the two girls, who left me for a guy from Tinder. She was my best friend in the entire world, and I still can’t fathom the idea of how someone could actually find happiness from a dating website where we are only seeing the ‘Internet Persona’ of them, and not how they actually are or would be if they met in a bar or at a party. I know how rare it is to meet someone these days who doesn’t belong to any dating websites, and is not afraid to ask for someone’s number in person. I met Brandon in real life, which was a shock to most people that something like that still happened. We met through a mutual friend in July after his roommate invited me over to check out their new apartment. Naturally, I brought over cookies because you are never supposed to go see someone empty handed. Brandon and Will lived in a tiny apartment in Alphabet City where everything seemed rather beige.
Since they had just moved in, all they had was a couch, a TV and some 70’s metal posters on the walls. I was my usual self, bubbly and comedic because I was trying my hardest to not think about the previous months, which were spent crying or being alone because of my friendship loss. I did not like Brandon at first. He was quiet and had longer hair than I did, and was a foot and an inch taller than me. Something about height really frightened me at the time because of this Miranda July story where she talks about how dating someone who is taller than you means you are “going the distance” for them. I hadn’t made that effort for anyone over 5’11 before. Brandon was also shy, which was a quality I never found myself able to relate to because I love bringing a room together to laugh. He also did not take a cookie, which made me slightly offended because who could turn down those Italian cookies with the jelly and rainbow sprinkles? He was definitely not someone who made my knees weak.
I made nothing of our meeting until the next day when I received a text from him saying “Hey it’s Brandonn”. He put two N’s in his name, which I thought was cute for some strange reason, as if he would have said it in person with a stutter. I simply thought he was going to ask me where I got the cookies, but it turned into a text conversation that ended only once we saw each other again. The second time I saw Brandon we happened to be matching. Navy blue shirts with light blue jeans. He joined me to take my subleter’s dog out. I had just gotten back from Florida, where I had gotten my wisdom teeth removed and my haircut. My hair was bleach blonde when I met him, and now it was auburn. On our walk, he noticed both of how my jaw was yellow and how my hair was slightly red. I again noticed how tall he was, and how this time how his long hair and great height was charming. Halfway through our walk I noticed an ice cream truck. I made it very aware how much I loved ice cream, and how I had forgotten my wallet. Had it, I would’ve had an ice cream in my hand. He must have really liked me because within minutes of learning this, he ran over to the ice cream truck and got a vanilla swirl with rainbow sprinkles. At that moment my eyes filled with hearts.
For the next eight months we engaged in a relationship that can only be described as tumultuous. We hung out every single day, ate lots of pizza and grew to love each other’s flaws. I liked that he did not have perfect skin, even though he hated it, and he liked that he could basically eat a watermelon off my head. As much time as we spent gushing over each other, we also argued like nobody’s business. We bickered about almost everything; how we didn’t like the same music, how I didn’t like sleeping at his apartment, how he didn’t like orange juice, all the things that people who are too passionate argue about. Eight months together and we never once said “I Love You.” We both felt as though that phrase has been so overused that it didn’t actually mean anything. This was a mutual decision, but it made me question if I’d ever actually feel too emotional that I’d have to express it in words. My cousin, who is my same age, said “I Love You” to her boyfriend after just two months. Brandon and I joked about how silly that was because you can never be too sure if saying it actually means it’s real. Since I had never felt this way before, I was not sure if this was “it.” There were moments when we’d be laying in bed looking into each other’s eyes and I could feel some sort of mutual high, but it had never been expressed. I was not even sure what I would have done if he had said it.
We broke up on a Thursday night about previous issues we had never been able to work out, but the breakup dragged on until Saturday because we weren’t done getting out everything we had to say. We both cried and cried and I ate pizza and McDonalds and cupcakes and lots of bread to try and get over it, but nothing worked. We both put too much effort into this relationship to let it fall apart over something we knew we could both fix. On the Sunday I realized it was over, I summoned up the courage to take the tulips and cactus he gave me and donated them to the garden we both belonged to. After the deed was done, I watched the plants for a while and cried, but it was the catharsis I needed. When I was walking back home, I heard a voice calling my name. At first I thought I was hearing things, but then Brandon approached me and asked what I was doing. Of course I had to run into him. I was in such shock that I started to nervous laugh. I imagined myself on a TV show where the highest amount of cued laughter had just been turned on. We were silent for a while until I told him that I donated the plants he gave because they were too beautiful to look at everyday. He started to cry, and then I started to cry and we were both crying in the middle of 12th street and Avenue B, near a café where everyone was staring. People in New York love to watch two people break up on the street.
When we were crying, we knew we didn’t want it to be over. We spent the next two days talking out our issues, and trying to mend our broken hearts. We both realized how easy it was to sit down and communicate our problems, which was something we had never done correctly in our eight months together. We are not fully back together yet, because understanding is a slow process. Thinking about love now, I am reminded of my favorite Dr. Dog lyric: “You’re a part of my heart, and I’m apart from my heart.”