It was the awkward stage of the high-school years, the roaring 2000’s. I stayed up until the early morning lost in video games and woke up only hours later to do the same. At school I ate lunch outside of my locker in the art wing for fear of having to talk to anyone while intentionally burying my face in books to gracefully and delicately chicken out of conversations. I wore baggy sweaters, noisy track pants and grew my hair long to better hide my face from the vestiges of eye contact. To the casual passer-by I could blend in as nothing more than a socially inept stoner in a town of socially inept stoners. I knew the tops of my own feet better than I knew people's faces and names. Time was never a problem back then - it was only something that trudged painfully along by its arms in the dirt, like my paraplegic Uncle if he were subject to a prank held in very poor taste.
All my pituitary gland related tendencies resulted in my friend count dropping unspeakably low, yet through a freak circumstance I made a choice connection. By way of an old friend I made a new friend that helped me break out of my warm, droopy-clothed shell and blossom like the average, lanky butterfly I was destined to be.
She was a friend of a friend who lived one town over, the kind of town that was panned throughout the region as being a perpetual hive of incest and more old religious folk than you could shake a Bible at. It was a nice tourist destination and a comfy place to visit on the weekends, unlike my own town that was built up around a mental institution and skate park; a winning combination if you ever wanted to do a 360 Pop Shove-It over a poor old woman who bathes herself with wetnaps stolen from public restrooms.
Victoria stood only a few inches shorter than me which I discovered was an ideal height for hugging. She wore comfortable and drab clothes while obsessing over all the dorkiest things in the world that I never heard of before. She was compassionate, understanding, and (if the amount of time I began to spend with her was an indicator) made up of some kind of adhesive. She was a curly haired country girl who was tired of her simple life and longed for someone to sweep in and pull her off her feet into this wide and complex world. It's no wonder to me that my infatuation with this new, mysterious figure in my life started to change me for the better.
I feel like it was only yesterday that I was spending the whole day looking forward to just going home and hopping onto the computer to see her face on our IM calls. Hours blew past as we talked our stupid and awkward talks, the conversations that you never wanted to end no matter how little you said to one another. We made stupid jokes that didn't have punchlines and laughed at things that often weren't funny by most normal stretches of the imagination. My time gradually began being spent talking my life over with her in place of my other recreational activities, and I enjoyed every second of it.
With all this grew my firm belief that there’s a predetermined number of inside jokes you can have with a human being before a ‘crush’ becomes inevitable. Dancing awkwardly around the subject several times over yielded nothing, so I forced myself to ask that direct question that was more important to me than anything else at the time:
“Will you come see Paranormal Activity with me so I have an excuse to put my arm around you and feel cool? (^_^;) ”
The answer I received was, much to my surprise, a resounding yes.
Things piled up and the next thing I knew I was sharing my whole life with Victoria, and what a feeling! Knowing there was someone out there in the wide world of billions of other people who actually felt something for me, someone who couldn't wait for me to wake up in the morning just to talk to me, someone that looked forward to long cold nights just for the chance to snuggle up in bed next to me. Someone who simply thought that the 'me' actually mattered.
For the longest time, we did everything together. We went for long walks to the middle of nowhere for no other reason than we felt like getting lost. We developed a routine of buying junk food and staying in on Saturday nights watching whatever movies we felt like. We went to see movies she never really cared for and I did the same for her. I enjoyed every second we spent together and wouldn’t have traded it for the world. Time flew by years at a time and I was happy with how everything was for the first time in my long, long life. For all I cared, the world could have collapsed in on itself; As long as I had her, even that would hardly have concerned me.
Yet when the world decided to do just that four and a half years later, she was the one who had pulled it all down. The legions of toy soldiers that I used to invade my LEGO towns as a kid would be impressed with how the dinky cars I threw at them in place of artillery had paled in comparison to what I was about to face.
As someone whose family was as protective as the mother from Carrie, it was anyone's guess that she was an emotional bomb just waiting to go off. When her legality kicked in she went out evening after evening, becoming the only Vampire I can ever claimed to have met. She was a thrall to her new friends who introduced her to this strange, nocturnal life of night clubbing, party-going, and all her new 'recreational' habits. In place of blood there was only booze, and her attempts to drag me with her were, as any hero in a Dracula novel, matched only by my force of will against this coercion. This newly discovered evil that was slowly distancing my Love away from me went against everything I saw within myself and eventually I was stupid enough to try and offer who I was in place of my happiness.
I remember late nights drinking in an effort to fit in, trying to conform myself to her new potions for fear of letting her slip from my grasp. The smell of booze is still something I'm forcing myself to tolerate again and the sting of vodka in the lungs due to it taking a hard left down one's esophagus is something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.
Try as I did to fit in with her troupe of supernatural partygoers, the night life wasn't in my nature. Late nights out formulated themselves into blurry, cold misadventures wherein I thought of little more than laying together with my Love on the couch and doing nothing, the way things used to be.
This culture shock made me feel more like a soldier with shell shock than a teenage boy. I longed to be back home with warm company, loving faces and relaxing evenings by a fire and not in the rainy battlefield I stood guard over. Time slowed down to an infinite crawl as all my worries over upcoming college classes and money faded into the scenery that I watched burn helplessly from afar, collapsing under the weight of it all.
I realized that this may be the end of things as they used to be; I wasn't able to keep up with these changes. I felt helpless. The war-torn and muddy landscape shifted too quickly for my tired, trench footed feet. I felt alone, hunkering down in my muddy boots and knowing that sooner or later the enemy would be at the gates. It was time to shoot myself in the foot to send me home before anything could get worse.
I told her my feelings, which were taken as I had expected - with a short argument over the phone as a full household listened in on the other side of the door. When the firefight was over, I went to sleep for the evening, hoping that somehow, someone, somewhere would sign me a peace treaty.
Instead of my treaty, or even self-inflicted bullet wounds to the bunion, I received something worse. A phone call in the early hours of the morning.
“I think just cheated on you three times,” was most of what I remember hearing through bouts of tears. I didn't care about the details. I felt like a housewife hearing her conscripted son had charged head-first into a machine-gun nest, all that matters now was that something important had died. I cried for a few minutes helplessly before only managing a blubbery response.
Of course, it's never as dramatic as that. There were long discussions that followed for days afterwards, lengthy conversations as we tried in vain to talk over our own Treaty of Versailles. But the Vampire I had coffee with was just that: a Vampire. Victoria had been lured away and only this new woman remained, and we gradually realized that we were now too different to reconcile our differences. I'll never forget the locales where we had our final discussions on the matter, usually public areas for the fresh air, and once a Starbucks because we felt like paying too much for coffee.
Forgetting is a slow and arduous process. I'm only now just forgetting the name of her roommates and what we did on our first date. I hope that soon enough I'll be forgetting our last moments together, perhaps the look of her face in the sunset and if I'm so lucky, her name.
Nowadays time just seems to whir on by forever. On days that I keep myself busy the world spins so fast I hardly notice the rise and fall of the sun. But on days I've nothing to do things feel irreversibly lonely as I re-enact my watching of the school clock years beforehand, but this time with nothing to look forward to.
Sometimes I worry that my face is not one that someone can fall in love with, or maybe that my mind isn't one someone can relate to in any way. I fear that if I don't attract another love soon then I'm doomed be a crazy cat man forced to find it artificially through Plenty of Fish, which I would join thinking it's a service that delivers cat food and opt out after learning the truth. What's more is I'm afraid that I never really knew love at all, that it might have been only a helpless infatuation that carried me through the toughest years of our lives.
Strangely enough, I don't miss the things I've often heard attributed to lost love. I don't sleep around on the weekends because I think it'll fill some hole in my heart, I don't need someone who I flaunt to my friends, I don't even need someone who loves everything that I enjoy. All I want is someone who needs me to please them.
I miss being tired and actually slacking at work on the weekends because of a late night phone call when she thought she saw a ghost. I miss being coerced into eating out at places I don't like to eat at because she likes to eat there. I miss being dragged clothes shopping and having the ‘gusto’ to walk into La Senza instead of being that lame boyfriend who waits outside. I miss staying quiet for minutes upon minutes as she rants to me what she loves about her favourite T.V. shows. I miss spending way too much money on expensive dinners and drive-in movies and snack food when I wouldn't dare spend a cent on myself. I miss all the formalities and rituals that love brings.
Most of all, I miss the bright and amazed look on their face when you do something spectacular out of the blue, just for them.