Engaged Too Young

I'm meeting up with a friend and she texts me, letting me know that she's bringing one of her friends along. I get annoyed. I hate meeting new people. I might actually just hate people. Although upon meeting you it turns out I don't hate everyone. You're cool, smart, gorgeous, and we both play Ultimate Frisbee (CHECK YOUTUBE I SWEAR TO GOD IT'S A SPORT). We all hang out around the city and eventually our mutual friend leaves. It's just you and me tossing some disc in a park on a hot summer day. Figuring out you didn't know how to throw overhand, we take a break. Sitting in the grass, we start to kiss. You have a boyfriend but I don't care that much. I'm on a good streak going back to college. I'm a dick of a 19-year-old.

Winter break hits and everyone's back in town. We meet up again with some friends. We're flirting, messing around with each other. Friends are keeping an eye on us as the tension increases. We end it there for now. My stomach is tight.

In June, friends have assembled a team to compete at a beach Ultimate (Frisbee) tournament. We meet up at our campsite a couple of minutes away from the beach. We strike up conversation and begin flirting: our usual ritual. We spoon in our tent but I'm not confident enough to go any further, I'm trying to be a better person than I was the first time we met.

Illustration by Emily Rice

Illustration by Emily Rice

The next day we're in the playoffs. We all pick up the intensity. We're playing hard and end up winning out our bracket. We've won the tournament. I played so hard that my body’s covered in sand. We go for a walk to the ocean. You clean the sand off of my face and we hold each other. Butterflies in the gut. Fuck.

Over time we hang out together more and get close—very close. Wait, fuck, we're dating. I think? I've never had a girlfriend. Do I have to give you something? Is there a protocol? I'm not used to this. I shouldn't have started dating so late. I feel like if I had been more aggressive in high school, I'd be ready for this relationship stuff, or I would just get turned down a lot. I would probably get turned down a lot. Fuck it, let's do it.

Before we even make it a week, you confess that you already have a boyfriend. A different boyfriend. Any normal person would recognize this as a warning sign, but with my dearth of feelings, lack of experience, and it being so early in the relationship, once again I really don't care. I’m a dick of a 20-year-old.

You dump him.

It's just us now.

You're leaving to college soon, we'll just try and make the best of this and see where it goes.

A month later and I’m starting to feel things. Is this love? Feelings? What the fuck is this? It's a weird sensation. It's familiar, like butterflies but not butterflies. I know the feeling, it feels like locusts. Locusts from that movie The Mummy. This must be what love is or I might need Brendan Fraser. WHERE THE HELL IS BRENDAN FRASER. I can't decide what kind of feeling this is so i'm just going to go with my gut. You're five hours upstate so I guess we're doing the long distance thing. The locusts rest.

I try to communicate through Skype with you as much as possible while also trying to visit you at school as much as I can. It turns out trips from New York City to Upstate New York are surprisingly expensive. Or maybe not surprising, I actually don't get out much. Though through phone and minimal contact, our locusts, I mean love, somehow keep getting stronger. (I'm cringing reading that back to myself.)

You're making friends at college. you tell me about your new friend *Joey. He looks out for you when I'm not there. You spend time together, you meet his friends, you hang out at his house, he takes you on picnics. I'm getting paranoid. Cue the argument. The locusts are attacking. At the end of our argument, we make up and you mention it. Promise rings. The locusts continue their assault. Where the fuck is Brendan Fraser?

Promise rings. I google it after you bring it up (note the inexperience). My heart immediately starts to pound. Commitment? Marriage? Snarky in-laws? This might be too fast. It's only been a few months and usually people who rush into something like this crash and burn, or they end up on The Maury Show. The dying voice that is my conscience is telling me to stop because this is going to end badly. But no, I ignore my conscience. I want to be the exception. We'll be the exception. I'll make it work. We don't have to argue anymore. I'll just keep my mouth shut. We'll wait a few months and see if we still want this. I call you later. You don't answer. You are with Joey. I don't hear from you all day. The locusts' wings flutter.

A month passes and we're doing our thing, still meeting on Skype with minimal visits. Talking about whatever future we think we can have.

"You want to just get engaged?"

As it turns out I'm very impatient, and also not good with words. My immaturity and inexperience are rearing their ugly heads. You love the idea, you’re crying in happiness. Locusts disperse.

I'm working a shitty retail job to get me through school, not to buy rings. Rings are expensive. I empty my account. My conscience bows its head in shame. What am I doing. I call you. You are with Joey.

My phone rings and I get a call from our mutual friend. We have a talk. She tells me you and Joey are now "You and Joey.” As it turns out you've been "You and Joey” for some time now. I call you. You don't answer. You are with your new boyfriend. I write out a long message, ending what we are. I don't get an answer from you until the morning. I pawn the rings (I lost the receipt.)

You are somehow angry at me. You scream about me only going out with you because of how easy you are. I didn't even know you were easy. The conversation ended up being you looking for reasons to hate me, to give you a reason to do what you did. As if the last 6 months were nothing. There is a knot in my stomach. There is a rage. I scream out of confusion, anger, regret, and heartache; I keep screaming. I've never screamed this loud, my throat hurts and it's 6 a.m. We end the conversation hanging up on each other. I stand in my room not knowing what to do. I want to go get breakfast but I realize my throat is hurting too much to enjoy food. You ruined whatever we had but you also ruined any chances of enjoying breakfast. Fuck.

Illustration by Emily Rice

Illustration by Emily Rice

A few months pass and just as quickly as we jumped into that relationship, I've successfully jumped right back out. I'm happier now that my world no longer revolves around us. I'm able to function as I used to: a young, vibrant, dick of a 20-year-old who's concern is semi-respectable sports, a functional social life, and shameful make-out streaks.

Yet somehow you find a way to make a cameo appearance. You need the stuff that you left in my house and want to return what I left in your dorm when I visited you. You're back in the city and we agree to meet up and trade. I start getting nervous. Locusts.

I walk around three miles to the Upper West Side. I want time to think about whatIi'm going to say to you. But I realize I have nothing to say. I don't feel anything towards you now.

I realize I fell in love with the idea of you, because who you are has actually turned out to be my world-breaker.

When we finally meet, I go in for a hug, but you put the bag of my clothes in between us. I hand you the bag of your things. I begin to walk away. A weight has been lifted off my shoulders, I never have to deal with you again. Now that I've tried my hand at relationships, I'm officially back into the single life. But as I walk away, you say it. You say it with such venom that you manage to wipe away all the progress i've made in getting over you.

"It's been fun."

You walk away.

The containment has failed. The locusts converge, ready to strike.

Brendan Fraser you've failed me.

FEATURE PHOTO BY GABBY ORCUTT VIA UNSPLASH