Words by Kaity Wong.
“I’ve never been in a relationship,” I say, loud enough so my friend can hear, but quiet enough so strangers won’t whip their heads around and wonder what could make me so unlovable. Every time this confession leaves my lips, it’s met with confused brows and sympathetic eyes. I go on to explain that I had come close, once. “We dated for four months and hooked up for another one and a half years.” It’s a flimsy equation I announce, as if I’m a student competing in a math bee and want to quantify my worth. Except, there is no gilded trophy engraved with my name, which he pronounced with the wrong inflection.
We met while working at the same advertising agency; a fertile ground for 20-something creatives. I was 22, and had been a summer intern four months prior. He was 30, and what felt like 30 years more experienced than I was.
We never went on dates. We spent nights apart, tangled in sheets ’til dawn, at morning brunches in a half-drunken stupor followed by copious amounts of coffee sprinkled with paranoia. What if one of our coworkers spotted us together? I introduced him to my closest friend at the time, and blushed an Asian glow when she said he looked at me a certain way. And I believed it, because no one had looked at me with such tender eyes before.
It was when I was straddling him while we were speeding up the West Side Highway that he asked, “What are you looking for?” I had no answer. I was looking to feel. I was looking to feel lust, infatuation, and desire. His touch sent prickling chills up my left side, but maybe it was simply the bitter winter seeping through the windows. There was no flicker, only frost. “Well, I’m not looking for anything serious,” he said. “I’m concentrating on my career and I’m a bad boyfriend.” I sensed he had rehearsed these lines to other women before, but I nodded and continued to kiss him.
It wasn’t about love, or so I thought. It was about loving an experience, or so I thought. I could taste my regret on his lips, but feeling something was better than feeling nothing–even if, months later, my heart would be shattered and abandoned on the corner of 7th Street and Avenue A.
I’m 25 now and we live 2,797 miles apart. I haven’t seen his face in 14 months. I haven’t heard his voice in 11 months. I haven’t read his words in three months. My memories of him are a bit blurry, distorted, and gently fading. I don’t think about what I could’ve done differently anymore. I couldn’t read his mind, let alone change it. He wasn’t my person, and I wasn’t his. That winter we kept each other warm, but here in L.A., sunlight floods over every surface.