You first meet at a costume party, and notice him mostly because he is the only other person not wearing a costume. He is wearing a floral tank top which you find hilarious, for some reason, and he is standing with a group of people that you sort-of know, so you greet them, mostly to get a closer look. You feel apprehensive about saying anything directly to him yet, so you walk away in pursuit of nothing after what was probably not enough time.
Later you sit alone staring morosely out the window, and he asks if he can join you. After ~10 minutes of genuinely engaging conversation, you discover you attend the same school, which you both agree is ‘insane’ because you have never met.
You wonder how you went this long without noticing him, because you would have, had you seen him before. He mentions that no one at the party has weed, and you grin at him. He grins back. While you roll a joint he asks about you and your life. Really asks, with a curious glimmer in his eye. You quickly become self-conscious about your answers because they sound uninteresting when they leave your mouth, but he still seems interested. He asks follow-up questions. You begin internally recalling and comparing previous conversations with possible romantic interests, but none seem as effortless as this one. On the train home you think about his hair, and how it falls in front of his face when he laughs. In bed you think about his dark eyes staring into you.
When you wake up you check your phone and are amazed to find that he has added you on Facebook already. He has decided to bypass the modern societal norms of abstaining from contact to increase interest, which somehow causes your interest to increase even more. You discover his creative work via the internet. It is “good,” objectively, and not in the way that the work of people you find attractive often is.
That night he messages you, which surprises you again. You talk until 4:00 AM about your love of LCD Soundsystem, stick and poke tattoos, and smoothies, and his love of neon signs, Ayn Rand, and peanut butter on red peppers. You make plans to hang out the following weekend. You meet with mutual friends at a bar and he invites you to a party afterwards. You drink a lot of gin and tonics, and he drinks a lot of beer. You dance together. You meet his co-workers. While sitting alone at a table together he looks at you in a way that makes your stomach implode. He slips his fingers between yours. He asks if he can kiss you. No one has ever asked you before. They usually just do it. Kissing him feels like being ‘in flow’; effortless, engaging, exciting, gratifying.
When you leave the bar he stops in the middle of the street and turns toward you. “I have a really big crush on you,” he says. “I want you to come over.”
That night, and the next 12 nights after, you sleep at his apartment in his arms. A part of you knows that spending too much time with someone usually ends negatively, but with him it felt sustainable, somehow. You like him because he is different. His hands are rough, and he is taller than you. With him you feel less like everything is pointless. You feel like there are possibilities. He likes that you are falling apart. He shows it when his strong arms grip your waist, like perennial vines clinging to a crumbling brick wall. When you have sex his body melts into yours. He touches you with permanence and honesty. He takes his time.
Every day you spend together feels productive. He wants to make things with you. He wants to read your writing, and he wants you to read his. He wants to make music. He wants to create.
He worries you. He is always sick to some degree, and if his medication isn’t near then he will die. You want to learn everything about his illness. You want to care for him. You spend any free time you have reading about his illness. You ask him questions, and he earnestly answers. He seems excited that you care.
Two weeks go by and you realize you are going out of town in a few days. A part of you is excited, but you mostly want to spend your time alone with him. The day you leave he walks you to the bus. “I’ll miss you. Don’t forget about me,” he says. You were positive you wouldn’t.
On your trip you think about him daily—you don’t text each other because it seems healthy to give each other a bit of space. You have fun, write, buy things, eat things. The trip ends. You ride home on the bus with him on your mind.
You text him the day you get home. “Hi, I’m back. How are you?”
A few days later you send him a message on Facebook linking to some music.
You ask your mutual friends if anyone has seen him, but no one has. A part of you is worried, but he posts things on Instagram, so you know he is okay. You feel yourself migrating into a familiar cycle of self-deprecation. You wonder what you did that caused him to stop caring. Luckily, due to experiencing this before, you know that relentless efforts to find out the problem will only hinder, so you choose, for the most part, to try and move on. You spend most of your time alone. You get up early and go to cafes to write. You look straight ahead when you walk by his apartment. You let others inside of you. A model, a writer, a different writer, an architect. But their arms don’t fit around your waist the same way. They cling loosely, grasping at something that isn’t there.
Time passes, and a friend texts you saying that they saw him. “He seems okay, he just moved and has been busy apparently,” they say. “It seems like it has nothing to do with you.” But you know better than that. You know that if someone wants to do something, they will, and if they don’t, they will not. You would give anything to know what made him stop wanting you.
You try to forget staring up at the posters on his wall and feeling at home. You try to forget reading in his bed with him while he rubbed your back. You try to forget watching him play bass and dance around his room. You try to forget the way he looked at you. You try to forget the things he said.
A week later you text him again. “Are you alive?”
The next day he texts you back “I’m sorry, I’ve been alive just reclusive. I meant no slight.”
You feel furious (probably irrationally) that he could be so casual when you have spent the last three weeks thinking about him. You decide to cut him out of your life. You unfollow him on all social networks. You delete his phone number. You stop caring.
More time passes and you go out of town again for a music festival. You go on a ‘bender’ and put as many drugs in your body as possible. You dance until your legs are sore. You sleep all afternoon. During the trip you barely think about him. Being in another city reminds you that the world is pretty big and pretty interesting. It reminds you that one person can never be your only source of happiness.
You forget about him completely, until the last night of your trip while walking home with friends you pass an enormous neon sign that reads “I miss you.”
You stop for a moment, let out a laugh, and keep walking.