I’ve done this a dozen of times for the past 3 years: go to school, line up – check in one hand, pen in another – burn thousands of hard-earned cash on education I was made to believe will be my saving grace in the quote-unquote real world.
But today is different. Today, making sure I get to attend classes for my last year in university is not top priority.
Today, I have to see you. I need to see you.
I’m wearing my best clothes – new, in fact, with the smell of apparel that was washed once and only once. Checkered long sleeves – “Why did I wear this it’s summer for goodness sake” – and pants that fit to a tee. You’d laugh if you’ve seen the sweat in my forehead. You’d pull out a handkerchief – you know I don’t bring one around – and wipe it off, and a familiar smell would linger in the air – that smell of you I’ve grown accustomed to.
“Are you coming?” I ask in a text message. It took me longer than expected to come up with that 3-word question, but I had many other versions before that:
“I miss you. Am I seeing you today?”
“How are you? Do you want to eat lunch after enrollment?”
“What classes are you taking? Can we take the same classes again?”
I know I shouldn’t ask these questions anymore, so I didn’t. We’re no longer together, or whatever that set-up’s called. An item? Exclusively dating? A fling?
I don’t know what it’s called, but what you and I had, it made sense. It felt right. It meant the world to me.
But it didn’t last long.
“Sorry, I’m not going there today,” you reply. It’s a common response to a common question, but every word felt heavy, laden with too much history, too many meanings.
I’m sorry, I won’t go out of my way anymore to see you. I’m sorry, we’re just friends now. I’m sorry, I don’t have time.
I’m sorry, I don’t have time for you. I won’t make time for you.
The checkered long sleeves still sits in my closet, a survivor of my household’s yearly purge of clothes that are old, tattered, and beyond redemption.
I wore it the other day, to check if all those days of running at midnight paid off. Left arm in, right arm next, my reflection in the full-length mirror showing a face hopeful that numbers on the weighing scale have become more forgiving this time.
I’ve buttoned it up, and it looks okay. I can go out wearing this, I told myself. It would be a bit harder to breathe, sure, and eating too much is not an option.
But something didn’t make sense. Something didn’t feel right.
So I took it off, and didn’t bother folding it anymore. This goes with next year’s purge, I made a mental note, as I dumped it back in my closet and out of my sight.
I could use another checkered long sleeves – another mental note. I’ve outgrown this.
I’ve outgrown you.