Apartment 53

Apartment 53 was my first apartment in NYC where I lived on my own, and thus, where I really think of my life as a Manhattan woman beginning. I've always been fascinated by NYC apartments. Giant buildings filled with people, each with their own story. Windows everywhere. And I always wonder: what's behind them? What do people see when they look in from the outside? What is the real story of the person who lives behind that glass? This is my blog. A real story from a Manhattan apartment.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Goodbye, Love

A friend of mine recently had her heart broken. She has had her heart broken before, but this time was different because it was shattered in to a million little pieces by a man she trusted implicitly.

To explain this trust, I must back up. My friend met said heart-breaker in grade school when they were both young and awkward. They grew closer in high school and saw each other through braces, pinned jeans, and keg parties. By the time they went to separate colleges, they had shared just one kiss but millions and millions of memories.

My friend loved this boy. She truly loved him. He wasn’t the coolest boy in school, or the most handsome or the smartest. But to her, he was the most special. She never loved him romantically, or desired him sexually. But being around him just made her happy. Life, especially as a teenager, can be a challenge. And their friendship gave her laughter in times she only thought she could cry; companionship when she felt the most alone; and strength in the moments she thought she had none. Their love was simple in its logistics, but complex in its layers. She would do anything for this boy, she would come to realize, and as they turned in to adults, their friendship would see times of absence and times of intensity.

One weekend in late winter, my friend went to visit this man in the Caribbean where he was temporarily stationed for work. And on an evening set against a backdrop of turquoise waters, warm trade winds, and an abundance of cocktails, the bed that they had shared before platonically became the site where, after sixteen years of friendship, they would finally make love.

My friend returned from this passionate weekend both ecstatic and unsure. This man, this figure in her life who, for so long was a dear friend - a best friend - had suddenly become something quite different. And my friend set out on an emotional journey to define what had changed.

And then she realized that she was in love with him.

Mutual friends had always teased them for spending so much time together and not taking things to another level. She never thought he was her type. He always claimed he wasn’t interested. Deep down she wondered if there was a reason that they had waited so long, and she believed that, indeed, there was. And so they kept their new terms quiet - hidden from the people who knew them as only one thing and who would inevitably judge them as the other thing they had become.

Their affair continued for a few months. They lived their love life in the shadows where mutual friends couldn’t see. They shared secrets and fears and bodily fluids and their friendship reached a place where it never had before. It had become a relationship. And with any relationship, it came with its set of complications.

The man who my friend loved and adored shied away from commitment. He was not necessarily afraid, but more disinterested in the concept. But my friend, moved by their deep connection, inspired by their newly discovered physical compatibility, remained undaunted and did what she does best. She gave many chances, hoped against hope, hung in there when she wasn’t being considered or courted, trying all the while to see the best in him, this man she had loved since he was just a boy. The rest of us who knew her could see what she was doing. And with any other man, my friend, now a woman wise in relationships and matters of the heart, would have done the right thing and walked away. But with this man she was different. She was different because after years of friendship she never believed that this man could be one who would let her down.

She was wrong.

In an all-too-brief email sent from a computer in an office in a building in another state, this man told my friend he didn’t want her. After sixteen years of road trips and movies and letters and friendship, followed by months of kisses and pillow talks and tears over sick parents and broken dreams, chats about trips to take and families to visit, all was lost in a three sentence electronic note without apology or explanation. The man my friend loved without exceptions or conditions, who she loved for everything real and true and sincere about love, the man who she wanted to be her family and her forever, to love and honor and care for until she took her last breath, chose a life without her. And my friend, while devastated and stunned, but still wise in matters of the heart, realized that it’s the people you love the most in life who hurt you the deepest. She realized that sometimes blind leaps of faith are really just senseless leaps of hope with terrible odds, equal to buying a lottery ticket or surviving a plane crash. And in matters of the delicate, trusting, pure heart of my friend, she realized that these are not leaps to take.

Remember, my friend, that you are loved. Remember that one day when you receive true reciprocity, someone will see what we all see. And on that day, even this great love will seem small.


Anonymous Leigh said...

What an asshole!!!

That's what I have to say after reading this!!


5:19 PM  
Blogger victoria said...

I am weeping. I know this heartbreak.
But with a friend like you, this woman will find her way back.

9:48 PM  

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