It was 8 years ago when I found myself staring at a phone number I both did and did not want to call. I was still living with my parents then. I was lying in bed, in a small bedroom half-cloaked in darkness, the only light coming from a small fluorescent bulb hanging above my nightstand. I remember my heart pounding, and the voice in my head saying I shouldn't do this, this could only end in disaster.
I should have listened. But I didn't. I didn't know if what I felt was love; but back then, I thought that it was. It was a craving, an obsession over something I knew I couldn't have. But I hoped that, over my otherwise flawless arguments, I was wrong; that this, whatever it was, could work.
I found myself dialing that number. It was a unique experience; I felt like I didn't own my body. I was both waiting for him to pick up the phone, and watching myself wait expectantly. I could feel my heart pounding still.
"Hi, it's me."
"Yea. What's up?"
"I really don't know how to begin."
"I can't stay long. I'm kind of with...someone right now."
"I'm sorry. I just need to tell you this."
Silence. I held my breath for what seemed like an eternity until he said "ok."
Everything came out in a rush. "I know you're in a relationship right now, but every time you are with me you keep telling me it's not working, and I feel like we have something, you know? And, and I was hoping that, that once you get a clear head, a clear idea of what you really want out of your life, you'd realize that he's not right for you. That I am, that more than anything, I want you to be happy. I can make you happy."
He did not respond. I continued, "I guess what I wanted to say is that, at the end of the day, I hope you realize that I am the better choice, that I am the better man. I hope that you could see that you should pick me. Not him. He doesn't see you the way I do."
"He doesn't love you the way I do," I also wanted to say, but I stopped myself before I embarrassed myself further. I knew his answer even before he said it, even before I finished talking, even before I dialed his number.
"I can't deal with this right now." He was trying to keep his voice light and upbeat. I realized he was putting on a show for whomever he was with at the time. "I'm just busy right now. Let's talk later ok? Ok? Thanks for calling. I appreciate it."
There were no fireworks, no epiphany. Nothing on the other end. The complete absence of any reaction from him humiliated me. How pointless that whole conversation was; how useless.
Then it struck me how silently a heart can break. And how the silence of one heart breaking into a thousand tiny pieces can be so deafening.
I realized what I forgot. He was my first love, but I wasn't his. Perhaps love wasn't even there after all.
I placed my phone on the side of my bed, closed my eyes, and tried to sleep. I hoped that everything would be better in the morning.
Photo taken here.