You, Me & Bitter Coffee: A Love Story

A good typical love story has a happy ending, a good typical love story is made, not written at three in the morning mere hours before the start of a busy work day. This story is not that. Like the coffee it contains, it is mostly bitter and without enough milk or sugar to suit my tastes.
It begins at an ending. High school graduation we sat next to each other, not by choice. Our last names happened to align. Maybe some day, if things are different between us, I will include them here and be proud of the story I’ve written about howI fell in love with you. As things currently stand I don’t expect that to be the case. The ceremony begins, I don’t remember it. I remember the photo I took of us, the selfie you instructed me on because I had never tried to take a good one. That photo remains only in my memory. Every dark and subtle detail of the two of us in cap and gown exists only in my mind. Deleted in one of my ever more frequent attempts to rid myself of the feelings deep within me that only you bring to the surface. The highlight of my evening was in two parts. The thrill of tearing open my gown on stage to reveal the skin tight batman shirt I had on underneath was not one of them. The look of excitement, wonder, and joy I got to see from you when I returned to the seat beside you certainly was. I am absolutely certain that is the same look I gave you upon your winning of the highest academic achievement award. However shallow of me it may be, it was then that I first took you seriously. Not because of the award, but because of your reaction to it. You almost seemed embarrassed, and that was a feeling I knew well. With that reaction it clicked to me that we could be good for each other. The record will show I was certainly correct in some sense on that point – though not exactly in the way I had wished. We went to safe grad. Somehow, I had managed to get your number during graduation and we texted on and off throughout the night, it was pleasant. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t seem to find you that night. At the time I thought I had blown a great opportunity, and I may have done so.
Summer went along and we kept in touch, something I rarely did even with established friends, but you were special already, so that is of little note. It was during this time I know I started to fall for you. I was on a very boring, mostly empty city bus. I sat facing backwards beside the window, I had my nose in a book. Looking up I happened to catch the world in a rare perfect moment. The sun glistened off the harbour far below, not a single cloud to obstruct it, only a few to provide it with a frame to sit in. The air suddenly was lighter and smelled of sweet grasses, not diesel. I had only one thought in that moment. And so I texted it to you. I meant to put the words here but I don’t dare remember because I know pain is all they will bring. Not serious nor terrible pain. Just the pain a child feels when letting go of a helium balloon – just that pain, except in my heart. That particular scene on that particular day remains my favourite of all the moments I have ever lived, and my only desire in that moment was to share it with you. I’ve since shared wonderful and incredible times with you, but they have all been tainted by texts sent later in the summer, and the messages they carried to me.
At first you didn’t feel like it was a good time to date, and so I waited. Then there wasn’t anyone you wanted to date and so I was the closest friend I could be. And then you got a girlfriend, and I was heartbroken. Thankfully you provided the distraction I needed from the news along with the news. My mind still reeled for days, actually that’s a lie. I still don’t have a good grasp of it many months later. I’m getting ahead of myself, skipping the relationship I had with you that you never signed up for.
We started at university together, finding comfort in one another’s company in a strange new world. You needed a friend, and I simply needed you. Our walk through the gardens was the most cliché and romantic date I could think of. It would have only been better if it were actually a date. We debated what types of flowers grew where, which ones were prettiest, and the entire time I simply hoped to have our fingers intertwined instead of simply brushing together. I gave up on the second try, or at least I planned to. The discovery of the small and simple waterfall changed that. We were both equally excited about it, you because of the waterfall, the natural beauty of it. I was of course excited because you were excited, and saw that bring out your own natural beauty. I fear now that any time I go there I will only be able to think of you, and without a great change I wouldn’t dare bring anyone else there. It ended the way most of our time together has – and will continue to end – with my insisting to walk you home making sure you are safe. You bring out the best in me – my confidence, comfort, and strength. It takes more than I can manage to imagine what I will do without you in my life, you’ve been a great advisor and an even better friend, and I honestly wish that was all I wanted you to be.
Midterms would bring coffee back into our story. You were a huge fan of it, it did everything I wanted to do for you – it kept you warm, helped you succeed, it was there late at night and early in the morning, it even helped pay the bills. That may be a bit of a stretch, but then everything was for me when you were involved. I gave you 110% and I think enough time has passed that I can admit my grades suffered because of how I felt, my friendships as well, even my partying was reduced, though that is likely for the better. I spent more time studying with you for your courses than I did my own, I pushed myself harder for you than I ever did for myself. In return I got homemade sodas and coffee, neither I really liked, but I loved them both because I associated them with you, and when I had them I was with you.
I’ve seen exactly one scene from the Notebook, it’s the one with them laying down in the middle of the road watching the stoplights. Our town didn’t have stoplights, but it did have something even more romantic: snowstorms. I personally believe that our walk on that stormy night down the middle of the road beat the hell out of any scene in any movie in terms of chemistry, it also beat the hell out of my mark in chemistry.
It was beautiful, it was exactly everything I hoped I would be able to offer to you as a partner in your life. That didn’t line up with what you needed and I’m not going to cry now thinking of you and your girlfriend being together. I have also just realized I can never send you this. You are too good a person, you’d feel guilty and I can’t ever put those feelings on you.
That’s a rough outline of what I want to say, though there is more of course. The time we got shitfaced on rum and eggnog and you sat quietly and suffered with your secrets while we all spilled ours, the time you told me you were ace. The day I feel the worst about, the lunar eclipse. Job hunting, lunch at the cafe, open mic night at T.A.N., our adventures to Three Pools and all over the Valley. Our story isn’t one continuous love story. It’s the story of a simple, foolish boy falling in love with the most beautiful girl in a totally different way every single time they meet.

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