I’ve been told ‘I Miss You’ too many times

A few nights ago, as I was crawling into bed (alone, again), a certain he from my past lit up my phone. Anytime I write about a him you know it’s heavy. ‘He’ isn’t always the same person, but ‘he’ is always a person I could have loved.

“I’ve never felt so much so quickly for someone in my life. It was bliss.” This is the text message he sends me, 8 months after telling me whatever we were wouldn’t be any longer. And it honestly takes my breath away, leaves me with a feather in my stomach that I’ve come to know as the feeling of falling in love. I do this often: fall in love with the might have beens, especially when they’re coming from someone else. “I miss you” is a phrase that cripples me.

This particular he was a record-breaker. I went to an amazingly small university where it was almost impossible not to know everyone in the dining hall, let alone everyone in your graduating class. But there managed to be a man I hadn’t and wouldn’t meet until four days before the both of us graduated. And in one single night, this stranger became a ‘he.’ I’ve never been whisked away the night of meeting someone; never felt a desire so strong that I had to quench it immediately. But he was that desire, tied up in pretty ribbons of goofiness and tenderness. We met at 11PM, dunked one another into the campus fountain at 2AM, and slept together at 3AM. It happened quickly. The next morning he woke me up by putting his finger up my nose. We made oatmeal and I burnt his. He scrolled through my Instagram, asking who each of my friends were, inquiring into my soul photo by photo. Somehow, a man I’d met 12 hours ago felt like someone I’d been in love with for years.

Time doesn’t care. It will offer you perfection that can exist only for four days. Time is cruel. It will mock you, reminding you that you had four years but waited until the last four days. Timing, as they say, is definitely a bitch. But what I don’t understand is why no one is ever brave enough to surpass time. Why, for example, when I drove to see him two weeks after graduation, wasn’t that enough to accelerate the potential us onward? Why was he too scared?

The ‘hes’ of my life are always too scared. They always opt out due to timing. My friend summed it up nicely: “Why won’t they take that leap? I feel like so many guys have told you how you should be treated and how you deserve the best, but no one ever seems courageous enough to actually try and give that to you. And then they regret it. And say I miss you.”

I’ve heard ‘I miss you’ from every “he” in my life. The words are always too late, but for a moment, they shake me. Those three words fly through my body and mimic that feather-like feeling. But that’s the thing: it is just a mimic. This feeling is not love. This feeling is potentiality, righteousness, and confidence. Tragedy sometimes feels better than anything. And lost love or love cut too short before it could even be love is tragic. Hearing ‘I miss you’ from the words of a man you thought you’d love is tragic. But tragedy is not love. Remember that.

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