Surely you know there’s a knife in my chest every time you talk about how beautiful another girl is. Surely you hear the unsaid “I love you” at the end of all our phone calls.
For seven years I’ve loved you and for at least six you’ve known. The age difference, you said, because at fifteen and nineteen, four years feels like a lot. Twenty-one and twenty-five, though?
Now you say it’s the distance.
Seattle to Los Angeles? Do you realize how minimal that is? My sister and her husband sustained a relationship from the US to the UK until he could come here. Seattle to LA is nothing.
But somehow nothing becomes everything when you say it, like it’s a finality and I obey, because it’s in my nature to do that with people I love, especially those I love so much I’m terrified to lose them.
That’s a rather short list, darling, but for seven years you’ve topped it, and so I’ve carefully gauged every shift in your life, praying to my god-of-the-week that one day nothing could just be nothing.
Surely you realize how many times I’ve cried over you. I shouldn’t have to tell you how I cried each time you got a girlfriend; the day you basically said I wasn’t beautiful, in not so many words; the time I realized that since you went to college you’d never called me sober.
I haven’t waited for you patiently. I’ve had more boyfriends in seven years than you’ve had girlfriends. I even thought I’d marry a few of them. I had crushes of various degrees. But that’s all they ever were…crushes.
Surely you know that.
My mother always liked you. Maybe she wasn’t fond of how close we were at fourteen and eighteen, but she always said what a nice boy you were. And your mother always liked me. Do you remember, she called me your guardian angel?
And you know, they say mothers know these things.
What with all the times I’ve saved you, morally, spiritually, emotionally, physically, one would think you’d know it too. Surely you know; you just don’t want to see. Just like the fact that you never would have admitted that your first call when you got yourself into trouble with alcohol was a freshman girl who’d never even been to a party. I was your excuse, your way out, your helping hand, and I was glad to be. But I never wanted to be just, just that.
Surely you’ve noticed that whenever you tell me all about some girl you tack on the words, “She actually reminds me a lot of you.”
Surely you know what this means.
This means that you don’t want me, but some better, prettier, funnier, more exciting version of me who never teases you or makes you feel small but is still out-going and intelligent and confident.
I’ll tell you a secret: you’re looking for a girl that doesn’t exist. Because I will never be your type, and those girls will never be me.
No, I’m not as fit as I could be, that’s true. I’ll never have a doll-like face like so many celebrities we both admire. I’ll never have good skin. I gave up on that dream years ago.
But you know what? You’re not perfect either. You know it as well as I do, and you tell me so every time I tell you how perfect you are.
Surely you know that when I say perfect, I mean perfect for me. We’re both human, after all, with all our frustrating idiosyncrasies.
The difference is, I’ve accepted this, embraced it, even, and I’m not sure you ever will.
That’s the thought that terrifies me, because if you can’t accept that I am what I am, that I’m pretty as I am, then you can never love me back.
I don’t know if you know how it feels to be alone in love, but it’s a beautiful and terrible thing. After all, there’s nothing more beautiful in this world than being in love. But there is nothing more terrible than knowing that you still see me as that fourteen-year-old girl who wrote you a letter every day she was on family vacation, so desperately in love with you that the whole world knew.
They still know. They still make comments, like they used to, about how good we’d be together. My mother still says how much she likes you, hinting. And I still wait for the right chance to actually slip those three words in and have you not judge them wrongly.
But surely you know.