I penned this almost 2 years ago. Though I’ve moved on from these specific feelings, the sentiment remains.
You ruined that bar where we met for the first time. You goaded me into joining you there, even though it was 10pm on a weekday. We had a couple beers, we laughed; it was fun and easy and lighthearted. My first impression was that you were too short, but you were clever and smart, so I decided not to write you off. (Why didn’t I write you off?) You walked me back to my car, but didn’t kiss me. I texted and made fun of you for that when we both got home.
You ruined that martini bar where we met the next time. You joined the group of us, after we’d been there a while. I was drinking (of course) a martini…one of the many I’d had that night. When I excused myself to the bathroom, you followed. You met me in the hallway after I exited and pushed me against the wall and kissed me, hard. You more than made up for that missing kiss the time before.
You ruined that hole-in-the-wall bar, after you texted out of the blue, so many weeks later, asking me to meet you there. You were drunk; I knew that going in. We first sat out on the patio where I nursed my beer. It was July, deep in the midst of a hot Texas summer. That dumb song “Party Rock” came on and I mentioned I thought it was so catchy. We went inside and played shuffleboard. I lost, because I’m awful at recreational games. You walked me to my car and kissed me. But that was it, for a while.
You ruined that taco place…after months. The one inside the gas station. We ate our cheap tacos and elotes in your car. It was nearly winter then. I drank a warm beer you grabbed from the backseat. You called me out for texting a dude, who happened to be one of my good friends, that’s it. I didn’t know you were texting someone else the whole time we were together, someone who I wouldn’t consider just a friend.
You ruined that couch – my couch. I finally built up the courage to ask what we were doing…you and me. You exhaled a tortured exhale when I asked, like you were thinking: “Oh shit. She finally wants to know.” And then you kept saying: “I can’t. I’m sorry. I can’t. I can’t,” over and over. We sat there for a long time in that miserable stillness. But I didn’t cry. Somehow I didn’t.
Even though I told myself it needed to be done, that I needed to say “no more,” I didn’t learn. This limbo went on and on. So…
You managed to ruin another taco place, too, one in that kinda iffy part of town, where we ordered $2 tacos and sat on the curb shoulder to shoulder and laughed and ate. That night was so good and effortless and at the time I kept thinking: “Yes. Yes, this is how it should be, always. Please?”
You ruined that dive bar – my favorite bar – where we drank beer after beer outside one Sunday afternoon. It was the only time you could fit me into your “busy” weekend schedule. I wore a dress that was more than a little bit too short and you told me how great I looked. You made fun of my knockoff Ray Bans. We sat across from each other and at one point you grabbed my hand and then leaned across the table and kissed me. I usually hate PDA, but then, on that long afternoon, I didn’t give one shit.
You ruined that restaurant I’ve never even been to. We made plans to get dinner there, but you canceled at the last minute. I knew I shouldn’t have let myself get excited about it, but I did. When I got your stupid, nonchalant text saying you couldn’t make it that night, my stomach dropped. I knew I brought the disappointment on myself, though. I should’ve known better.
You ruined the pool where we took a late night swim that one time, one of the last times, much too late on a school night. You didn’t have a bathing suit, so you wore your black boxer briefs, which the chlorine stained burgundy. It was on the roof of my building downtown; we treaded water and dipped and dove amongst the brightly lit Dallas skyline. You asked if I was waiting for you. I scoffed and said “Hell no. I don’t wait for anyone.” But I know you knew better. I don’t typically call things magical, because that’s cheesy and trite, but if pressed, yeah I’ll admit…that night kinda was.
You even managed to ruin a place in this new city I moved to, a town you’ve never even visited…
You ruined that entire night. It had been months. I was sipping a vodka soda, so indifferent, so unattached, when you texted me out of the blue. Feelings. Shit I’d been waiting to hear for a year and a half. That you missed me. That you cared about me.
And, because I never learned – never learned – I held on to those words for way too long.
I stupidly let you ruin places here, too.
…that’s really on me, though. It was my fault. My own damn fault.
It didn’t change.
It never changed.
You’d think I’d learn.
Why did it take me so long to learn?
Thank god I’ve learned.
I’m still learning.