Friday, April 19, 2024

Breaking up is hard to do

Three years and two-and-a-half months ago, she let me borrow her guitar. It was an acoustic: black, with bronze-wound strings. Since she didn’t play, she didn’t see any reason it should sit idle in its case in her bedroom, so I held onto it, and we would make music together. She sang with the voice of an angel, and I sat beside her, strumming along.

That’s how our relationship was for slightly more than three years until things began to change. I’m not sure when it started to happen, but she became angry, and nothing I did seemed to make a difference. We fought just like any other couple, but, as time went on, it was about the dumbest things. Our last fight was about, whether cats or dogs were superior.

Don’t get me wrong, she’s a nice person. I wouldn’t have been with her for that long if she wasn’t, but unfortunately, being nice can’t be the endgame of a relationship. We used to laugh and share stories so deeply personal, it felt like they were custom-tailored for the two of us. I had never felt closer to anyone I’d ever been with before. But as our swan song neared its final peak, I began to feel like I was dealing with two different people sometimes, and it scared me.

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The fights become so frequent that at times my friends started to take notice and encouraged me to end the relationship. However, I resisted, and I defended her at every turn. I was her boyfriend, right? Sticking up for the one you love is in the job description. I kept trying to talk to her about it, but it never seemed to click.

Even I know when it’s too much.

She lives 10 miles away from my hometown, so on my second day of winter break, I drove over to her house. She sat on the couch. I stood in front of her. She smiled up at me with eager eyes. I had been away at college, after all, and we both missed each other like crazy. But I still knew what I had to do.

I had to break our hearts.

I ushered her to the kitchen with a solemn gaze at the floor. “What’s wrong?” she asked. “Nothing’s wrong,” I said. “Who died?”

“No one died!” I said, laughing. With tears in my eyes, I said that our last fight was the last straw. She started crying, and I kept apologizing, and she said, repeatedly, “It’s OK.”

I didn’t want to get out of bed the day after. I hadn’t hurt like this in quite some time, and I had no idea how to move on. About two days later, she texted me while I was at work, and she invited me to her house to collect my things. When I got there, she told me she took me for granted, and that if she had a time machine, she would go back and do things right.

Unfortunately, we haven’t harnessed time travel yet, and there’s no way to undo hurting someone. I knew that if I took her back, all the scars would still be there, and no matter how much you care for that other person, sometimes you can’t fix what no longer works.

Taking this step was difficult, even gut-wrenching, but standing on the other side, I think it was necessary. I graduate in May, so this is my first and last semester at Plattsburgh State where I’m actually going to be single, and if I don’t take advantage of it, how am I helping myself?

I can do all the things I couldn’t do when I was in that relationship. I can go out, have fun and maybe start a Tinder account— who knows? I need to soak up the college experience while I can, and when you’re in a long-distance, long-term relationship like I was, it can be really difficult.

The day I broke up with her, I laid her guitar, sitting in its case, on the kitchen floor. One day, maybe we can both find someone else who will make our hearts sing again.

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