My Life Before Her (Essay)
Words by Evan Malachosky.
We met twenty days earlier, October 11. I was dressed for the opening of a gallery exhibit, wearing something that although I wasn’t comfortable in was what I thought one wears to such type of event. I was unabashedly awkward. A grey sport-coat, black jeans, black chucks, and a black t-shirt. I was exactly who she wasn’t looking for. At the time it felt like the most insurmountable setback, but, with a swift Twitter direct message, I managed to secure her phone number, and I felt as though my chances had risen from 0% to maybe…1%.
We stayed connected through a wealth of text messages. We discussed politics, fate, our mutual friends (who happened to introduce us), creativity, and a variety of topics far deeper than what I had imagined would be covered in an introductory conversation. There was something in the way she put her words together. The way she answered nearly every question I asked her or the way she ignored the ones she didn’t care for. She did so effortlessly, with an unashamed ease.
We talked and talked and talked, until the dwindling hours of the night, but I didn’t have the nerve, courage, or the confidence to ask her on a date yet. So, in a confused, rapid-fire string of texts on October 30, I arranged to go out with her, accompanied by friends of course, on Halloween. My roommate and I went for the laughs. I, dressed as Peyton Manning, him as Papa John, roamed the party jokingly debating whether we should give away 1 or 2 million free pizzas. She was from Colorado so I assumed the nod would score some points. Without further description, it didn’t. I looked less like Peyton Manning and more like a pudgy, immature guy in a Bronco’s jersey, cut off blue sweats, and white converse–taped around the ankles–mostly because that’s who I really was. It hurts–I can’t lie. I was probably somewhere around 230 lbs. with a haircut that looked like a mix between Zack Morris and Macklemore.
We must’ve looked like quite the pair that night. A 1920’s Flapper Girl and Peyton Manning kissing in the basement of college Halloween party, but less than an hour later we were seated in the lobby room of a hospital, awaiting the release of her roommate who had fallen down the stairs at the party.
“She’ll be here overnight,” the desk attendant informed us. The words felt like the end. She wouldn’t want me to stay with her, and the only reason I’m here right now is because I knew where the hospital was, and she needed someone to walk her there. But, as we walked out the sliding front doors, she asked, “Can we just sleep at your place and come back in the morning?” I had suggested it earlier, out of sheer hope and longing, but she included me in her thoughts–at least for the next eight hours.
We arrived at the plainness of my dormitory bedroom, but with her there, there was something so lively and electric about it. She climbed into bed before me, allowing space to stall or ask where I would be sleeping. I felt nervous wrapping my arm around her as I climbed into bed. She declined dressing in my sweatpants and t-shirt and pressed up against my chest. We slept like that until our 6 AM alarm, and hopes of seeing her roommate discharged, woke us.
We walked to the hospital again. And while in the same clothes, something was different. For the first time, I felt like I had another place in this world, someone else to shield, someone else to love, someone else to share my life with. And as the day passed on, each hour passing without her roommate’s discharge, her and I found solidarity in each other’s presence. Not saying nor doing much but thumb wrestling and napping together on a recliner definitely better suited for one.
The words we did speak were short or questions–simple gestures of both curiosity and genuine kindness. I’d ask if she wanted coffee or she’d ask something about my life prior to her. She’d ask if she could lay her head on my chest while she slept, or if I was afraid of thumb-wrestling her because I knew I would lose.
There’s always been something honest about her. I remember the first time I told her I loved her–it was through a letter. She didn’t say it back when she first read it, just looked at it sternly and grinned, but the next morning, she turned to me and said, “I love you,” with a smile that confirmed her sincerity. We didn’t say many other words for the next couple days, instead we took turns telling each other “I love you.”
Now, after being together for nearly two years, I find comfort in telling her everything–undoubtedly because she’s the only one for me. She agrees. She tells me she’s loved me since the day we met, and honestly admits, “I tried so hard not to like you.”