I’m going to be really busy, he says.
He looks at you, but you look away. You are sitting on his condo balcony. Though, you don’t know why because you hate condos and you hate balconies. But he was cute when you first met him and he charmed you into his life.
What are you trying to say? You ask.
I just really don’t like letting people down, he says.
What does that mean? You think to yourself.
Are you saying you’re not sure it’s worth it to try and balance both? You ask; both scared of and eager for the response. You like to know how it is, straight up. No bullshit say it like it is.
No, he says.
Too quick, you think.
We are all busy, in this life. Busy is a curse and a gift. We can make ourselves as busy or as free as we like and sometimes we are the bad kind of busy, though that kind of busy is often good and we often prioritize what we really want to when we are in this busyness.
He wants to walk you home later, you insist he doesn’t. You say you have a friend to call, and you do, but she doesn’t answer and neither does the next one so you walk home along with your headphones plugged in and you cry a little bit for the loss of a boy you were just beginning to fall for, for the loss of something that could have been.
You begin to wonder if there were signs that you missed, if you were naïve. Can you trust yourself from now on? Can you trust others?
You decide never to date again.
You don’t know where to go from here. You want to text him or call him and ask him how he could have done this to you. You brought me to your cottage, remember? I played cards with your grandparents, drank wine with your dad and stepmom. How can you go from being completely obsessed with someone to wanting nothing to do with them at all?
What changed? You wonder.
On the other hand, you know that you can’t say anything. It is too early on expect more of an explanation. We never said we were exclusive, exactly. Words are our contracts now. People specifically choose what to say and what to leave out for fear they could be condemned later for mis-speaking or changing their minds.
You have never been dumped like this. In fact, you have always been the one to do the dumping. Except for that one man you met in fourth year who was too cute for you and you made out with him once on his balcony apartment in Montreal and he went down on your for what seemed like hours that when he sent you a text the next day saying, I’m just not looking for something serious right now, you couldn’t have cared less but couldn’t have been more surprised.
You don’t understand men. How they work. How some can be some completely infatuated with you and others flip a switch just like that. How they can be with you physically and intimately or even emotionally—bring you over to meet their family—and then move on like you were just another hussy they picked up from the bar.
Women can be like this too. You know this. You have been like this and you have friends who have been like this—and worse. Don’t you remember that boy from your Psychology program who took you out on three dates and kissed you under the night sky—too polite to ask to come home—and you avoided his texts for days because you “just didn’t feel the spark,” only to have him confront you on campus asking what was up? Or how about the boy you told you were too busy to date? Who you thought was magic until one day you realized you’d been seeing him through those rose-coloured glasses.
We are cruel, in this life. There is no right way to do something there is only doing something. And yet it doesn’t make this pain, this walking alone in sadness, this confusion in your mind hurt any less.
But maybe the pain is okay. Maybe the pain is needed—as they say—to heal.
It’s still light out but the sun is setting on the horizon. It rained, earlier, and the ground is still wet with its remnants like a dog leaving his tracks in the snow.
Summer has come and gone and the cold winter air crawls in through the cracks in the windows of your old Toronto apartment. You like this cold because it means you can curl up in a blanket with a mug of tea to warm yourself. There was a time when the cold made you feel lonely—when you longed for another person’s body to bring you back to warmth but not now, no. Now you want aloneness.
You want to understand where the last two years of your life have gone and how you have ended up here, again, another lost love another breakup in the books, another man who has come in a rush and left just as quick.