In the midst of one of our notoriously short-termed breakups, my college boyfriend told me that no one would ever love me as much as he did.
At the time, I probably laughed cruelly and did something immature, like throw his Foucault in the toilet bowl or say something about his hairline or hack his Xanga [truthfully, I probably cried and then made out with him. It was a confusing time.] — for it was 2003 and we all had Xangas and already, at 23, he was losing his hair. He and I were always breaking up with each other for reasons that no longer seem very important, and there was nothing special about this particular breakup. By the next morning I’m sure we had already reconciled and constructed an elaborate plan to make pancakes and then go read in the park and then go see the new exhibit at the art museum and then come home for lunch and play Iron Chef: Anthony and Ingrid Edition and then write great American novels (we were Big Planners).
But here it is a decade later, and unlike so many of the other words that have been said to me over the years, cruel or kind, I haven’t forgotten these. These words have only grown in importance as they’ve aged, taking root in that cold, insecure place between my stomach and my heart [the doc says this can be cured with certain classes of drugs but I can’t afford the co-pay] and flaring up whenever I’m newly single or overly drunk.
What if no one ever does love me as much as he did? Certainly no one else has to this point. This was the same boyfriend who left notes in the spokes of my bicycle so I’d find them between classes, who once plastered the door of my apartment with post-it notes, each one with a small pen drawing and a reason why he, you know, loved me more than anyone else ever would. Eight years in, we could still lay in bed and talk until the alarm went off and the sun rose, call in sick to our minimum wage jobs and talk some more. (oh, college years. come back.)
I’m not romanticizing the past here. If we got back together today we probably still wouldn’t work out for various, disappointing reasons. The point I’m trying to make isn’t that I made a mistake in walking away (because in the end, I was the one who made the final break; I moved West and he moved East and we talked on the phone occasionally until one day we didn’t.). The point is that, of all the men I’ve dated in my life so far, the Mikes and Marks and Lukes and Davids, only one of them will have loved me the most. Looking back on life from my death bed (assuming I have the energy to make charts — maybe I’m dying from a very slow-acting poison), I could make a chart with each of these men placed on it, and I will be able to point to one and say, “There — it was him. No one ever loved me as much as he did.”
And wouldn’t it be sad if the chart peaked in 2003?
Back when I broke up with Anthony for the last time, I was sure that I was leaving him behind for something better — that the summit was still in my future. But goddamn if I’m not starting to wonder, dear readers.
[Okay, okay, it’s late and I’m being melodramatic. I warned you that these forced posts would be….forced.]