I’ve been struggling to write this next part because although it was over two years ago, it feels like I’m entering the final chapter, the one that leads to the ‘last’ heartbreak, the one that leads me to this very moment, sitting on my friend’s couch in Portland, watching Gilmore Girls.
Our return to Asia!
It was his idea to go — he wanted to visit Peter and wanted me to come with him. I could meet him in Taiwan, then we could book the same flight back to LA so that I could enjoy a few days in my old city before flying back to NY. Despite the disapproval that I could literally feel radiating from my friend’s messages, I booked it as a respite from the loneliness of New York & my job. I also knew it would make him and Peter happy.
He was going to go visit one of his best high school friends at college in Hawaii first, and then hop on over to Taipei, where I would meet him in the airport. Our friend, Peter, would take the train into the city the next day so we could explore Taipei as a trio for the first weekend.
We took a cab to the Airbnb and settled in.
He was sorry, he made a mistake, he was wrong.
He could love me. Maybe he did love me.
He wanted me to play a central role in his life.
He wanted to get back together, only if I was willing.
The exact timeline from here on out is muddled.
I cannot accurately retell the words that I used to reply.
But I distinctly remember how I felt in that moment. Sad, relieved, nervous. Then happy.
Also, a little guilty.
The intent of this trip was to see Peter, and I didn’t want to jeopardize that (not to say that he didn’t have those same intentions). So we decided to not say anything during the duration of the trip. At the same time, I think it would be an insult to Peter to assume he didn’t know something was up during our time there.
We gallivanted around Taipei and Taitung, eating too many scallion pancakes, biking around, and even going to a children’s soccer tournament. We all celebrated Christmas together, facetiming Peter’s family, wearing our silly Christmas sweaters. I hope I can speak for all three of us when I say that it was no less than wonderful.
Since Peter had work for most of the weekdays, it was just me and him.
For much of that time we just sat around Peter’s house and talked.
I learned a lot during those conversations. The conversation that particularly stands out is the one about his romantic history, about the girls he’d been with. How he felt with them, how they started, what happened during, and how they ended.
His desire to act on his and only his selfishness, without caring about the repercussions it would have on his partners, is what usually resulted in a horrible break up.
He may have omitted things here, but he had absolutely no negative words to say about any of them. He accepted that these were 100% his fault, and that they were right to hate him.
Bad sign, right?
I won’t say that I was blinded in the moment and didn’t see it. I can’t feign ignorance; I truly thought it would be different with me. That I was different from these other girls. That I was special in some way. They couldn’t make it work with him, but I would.
^Looking back this is very unusual for me, as I have a hard time thinking that I am special. I don’t believe that I am exceptional in any way (probably something to unpack here for another time). But for some reason, I felt very special in this relationship.
The danger in tethering the notion of your special-ness with the success of your relationship is that when the relationship ends, you don’t feel like you’re special anymore. Among a bunch of piles of poop, you were a piece of chocolate that actually *just happened* to be shaped like poop. But someone has taken a bite, and has informed you, in disgust, that you are actually just poop.
I also thought that since he was cognizant of the hurt that he caused on these people, if he was coming to me with this romantic proposition, that he had made efforts to make sure this would be different.
Once we got back to LA, it felt we had just entered a honeymoon phase all over again. He had planned for us to be tourists in our own city. We went to the LA Zoo for Zoo Lights, to LACMA to see Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors, to L.A. Live for ice skating, to the Walt Disney concert hall to see Pink Martini perform alongside the L.A. Phil to ring in the new year.
Flying back to New York on New Years Day, I was worried but also assured that long distance would work out. We wrote letters, texted whenever possible, and occasionally facetimed/called through the night until one of us woke up to hang up.
You may be wondering, what about Facebook pokes?
Well, back on August 13th, 2018, I got a slew of messages from him saying:
‘Annie I am panicking’
‘You can’t sleep yet’
‘YOU ARE TECHIE’
‘ANNIE IM GONNA CRY’
It turns out Facebook mysteriously threw away our pokes.
Don’t you worry, I filled out a very dramatic report (which I have graciously posted below for you to reference):
“Good morning. I had 6,366 pokes in an ongoing 14-month long poking streak with [him] and without rhyme, without reason, it got reset last night at approximately 7:48PM PST. This is no joke, no satirical report, but a genuine call for the reversal of an unjust action, an error that should, that must, be reversible.
I have been a loyal Facebook user since March 2009 and have never had any complaints nor requests.
In the scope of all this wondrous app has to offer, the poking feature may be cast aside (demoted from its original place on the home page to one that is secretly nestled within a nondescript ellipses button); however, for the two of us, it has been the marker of our relationship since its birth. You could almost say that our friendship started with a poke.
So to the person reading this, this is your time to shine. It is our utmost hope that you will restore our pokes in a testament to our friendship and frequent loyal usage of Facebook. I also realize that this is not a trifling request, as these pokes have been far from trifling in my life. Reader, I do not doubt that you couldn’t do the math for yourself, but this averages about 15 pokes a day, quite the feat for two full-time students turned two full-time close friends living on opposite coasts. Reader, I also assume that you do not think we were careless enough to exit out of the poke (by pressing the little evil ‘x’ button featured next to every poke), quite possibly resetting our pokes to 0 ourselves. Reader, I trust that I can put this issue in your lovely hands and right this wrong, or else my tears have been for naught. Thank you for your time”
Safe to say, I never got a reply.
Anyway, long distance was exceptionally hard for me, being in New York alone, but he was still on campus with all of his friends, finishing off his final semester of college. By the time I got off work, he was still in class, and when he got out of club meetings/extracurricular activities, I was usually asleep. However, he visited me and I visited him, and we managed. Our friend group also went to Peru for their spring break, and for a long weekend I flew out to St. Louis to spend it with his dad and two brothers. For people who lived across the country from one another, we sure saw each other a lot.
During this time, he was looking for a job.
Remembering the soul-sucking experience of trying to find a post-grad job, I avoided asking him about it. But what I mostly wanted to know is if he was trying, hoping, planning, on ending up in New York. His dream job seemed to be in the Bay, and although he didn’t make it past the final round, I will always wonder what would’ve happened if he had gotten it.
I don’t think I could’ve kept doing long distance. Although I don’t think I am a long distance person in general, a part of me has also realized that I didn’t feel secure enough to be in a long distance relationship with him. Because I felt he needed my physical presence to remind him what I had to offer as a partner.
Regardless of job and location, I also do realize that he was only going to do what he wanted to do, regardless of my wants/needs. Luckily for me, he wanted to be in New York, with me.
And to my relief, he secured a job in New York.